Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rickett's Glen State Park

YOU hear falling water before you see it, and the sound arouses an ancient curiosity – and we hike as though we are drawn to it by some ancient instinctive attraction.  Maybe it’s about the promise of a primeval thrill, or maybe just about what obstacle lies next on the trail. Natural wetlands, and a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls, cascading through rock-strewn clefts are abundant in this ancient forest.

Old growth timber,  including hemlocks that stood on this continent before Columbus, (ring counts on fallen trees reveal some are up to 900 years old) traverses the area. My wife and I hiked this trail with our children throughout their grade school and high school years. Last year my son came with us and brought his fiancĂ©. My middle daughter hiked this trail just last month with a friend. There is something about waterfalls and their continual renewal which reminds me of the passage of time and the circle of life.

Rickett's Glen State Park is registered as a National Natural Landmark and it’s not surprising that the Falls Trail Loop at Ricketts Glen State Park was named best in Pennsylvania, according to an article in the January 2009 issue of Backpacker Magazine. Here’s one way to hike it;
Start from the Falls trailhead off PA 118,  and follow the path as it crisscrosses gurgling Kitchen Creek for 1.3 easy miles through a forest of 500-year-old hemlock, oak, birch, ash, and maple. At 1.8 miles, you’ll reach the confluence of Kitchen Creek’s two branches.

At Waters Meet, the streams of Ganoga Glen and Glen Leigh come crashing together in a kind of grand hydrologic theater of the woods, and hikers pause on footbridges to watch the show.

The trail lollipops up one gorge to the Highland Trail, which connects to another for the return. Forty-one-foot Huron Falls (the fifth falls in Glen Leigh) cascades over multiple steps through the narrow gorge to a rocky amphitheater with a natural bench.

Head up Glen Leigh Gorge to approach Adams’s falls from below.

Trail Information
Nearby City: Wilkes-Barre
Length: 7.2 total miles
Elevation Gain: 1,081 feet 

Trail Type: Loop 

Skill Level: Moderate 

Season: Year round 

Trailhead Elevation: 1,220 feet 

Top Elevation: 2,200 feet 

Local Maps: USGS Red Roc

 If you go;
The full loop trail is over seven miles and the terrain is rocky and slippery. This trail has some very steep and difficult sections. Please be sure that you are properly prepared by being in good physical condition and by wearing sturdy hiking footwear.