Waterfall on Kitchen Creek in Ricketts Glen State Park Pennsylvania

Where is Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is located in Columbia, Lezerne, and Sullivan counties in northeastern Pennsylvania. The park contains acres of old growth forest, a list of waterfalls, Kitchen Creek, and Lake Jean. Common activities the park is used for are hiking, swimming, fishing, and in the winter cross country skiing and ice fishing. The park also contains a campground and the Glen’s Natural Area. The closest city to Ricketts Glen US State Park is the borough of Benton. New York City is 149 miles and about a three-hour drive east of the park, Pittsburgh is 242 miles and a four-hour drive west of the park, and Philadelphia is 138 miles and a two hour and thirty-minute drive south of the park.

How Large is Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park covers over 13,000 acres of old growth forest and Pennsylvania woodlands. The park's elaborate trail system provides over 38 miles of trails. This milage is split between 26 miles of hiking trails and a 12.5-mile horseback riding loop. Ricketts Glen State Park also contains 24 named waterfalls and several others that are not recognized on the park’s list. Wildlife in the park is abundant, and especially prevalent in the Glen’s Natural Area. Popular spotted species include woodland mammals such as white-tailed deer, racoons, foxes, squirrels, and porcupines, as well as several species of birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Ricketts Glen State Park has received designation as an important bird area and important mammal area by the Pennsylvania Audubon Society.

Ricketts Glen State Park Weather

The weather at Ricketts Glen State Park changes throughout the seasons. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 50- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 10- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Ricketts Glen State Park receives around 90 days of rain per year. These 92 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 50 inches. In winter, Ricketts Glen State Park does frequently experience snow and freezing rain. Yearly snowfall totals in the park average around 45 inches.

Adam's Falls in Ricketts Glen State Park Pennsylvania

When did Ricketts Glen Become a State Park

Ricketts Glen first became a state park in 1942. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased the land from R. Bruce Ricketts. Before the state became involved, Ricketts owned and operated the land for several business ventures. His main goal was to clear cut the land and sell the lumber to various logging companies. He also built a hotel in 1873 on the property. Other cultural ties to the Ricketts Glen State Park area include several Native American tribes who once called the area home. A matriarchal society who constructed stockade societies, the Susquehannock’s were the most prevalent in the area.

Things to do in Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park offers visitors a truly unique getaway complete with various outdoor recreational options. The most popular adventures and experiences found in the park are listed below by our State Park Visitors Guide.

Join a Nature Program

Attending and participating in one of the nature programs hosted and managed by environmental education specialists who work at Ricketts Glen State Park is the best way to gain an understanding of the area’s ecology and geography. These programs vary in topic, but normally discuss features of the park’s various wildlife, geography, and overall ecology. The schedule for these programs also varies throughout the year and can be obtained by calling the park’s office.

Hike the Falls Trail

The most popular attraction in Ricketts Glen State Park, the Falls Trail leads visitors across 21 of the park’s named waterfalls. The Falls Trail can be accessed from the Lake Rose parking area, parking areas on PA 118, and Beach Parking Lot number 2. The Falls Trail meanders for 7.2 miles through the park’s old growth forest. Shorter versions of the trail can be hiked by connecting from the Highland Trail to the Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen sides of the trail.

Hike the Grand View Trail

During the summer, when the mountain laurels are in full bloom it's easy to see why the Grand View Trail received its name. However, the trail is also lovely throughout the year. The trail climbs to Red Rock Mountain and an elevation of 2,249 feet. Visitors, during fire season, can also obtain extended views from the trail by climbing a fire tower near Red Rock Mountain.

Fish on Lake Jean

Lake Jean covers an area of 245 acres and supports a warm freshwater fishery. Angler’s visiting Ricketts Glen State Park will want to bring all of their fishing equipment, tackle, and bait along with them to the park. The lake supports several species of panfish, trout, and largemouth bass. A valid Pennsylvania fishing license is required to fish in Ricketts Glen State Park, and all Pennsylvania fishing regulations apply.

Take a Beach Day

Yes, Ricketts Glen State Park offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation activities. However, it is also nice every once in a while, to take a relaxing beach day to rest tired hiking legs and spend time with the family. The beach at Lake Jean is the best place to do this within Ricketts Glen State Park. The area is open from mid-May through September.

Wildlife Viewing

Designated as an important mammal and avian area, Ricketts Glen State Park hosts a variety of woodland wildlife. Visitors interested in spotting various species found in the park should explore the Glen’s Natural Area. Mammalian species found in the park include white-tailed deer, porcupines, black bears, gray squirrels, red squirrels, and foxes. Avian species found in the park include warblers, vireos, chickadees, several birds of prey, and various seasonal visitors and residents.

Winter Activities in the Park

During the winter, when snowfall falls upon Ricketts Glen State Park, visitors can enjoy several additional outdoor activities. The most popular of these activities are cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Visitors can also try their hand at ice fishing on Lake Jean. However, visitors should observe the lake’s conditions before attempting to walk on the ice.

Camping in Ricketts Glen State Park

The campground at Ricketts Glen State Park includes various cabins and campsites situated within the park’s woods. Each of the park’s ten cabins are furnished with electric heat, several bedrooms, a living room, full kitchen, and bathroom. Reservations for the park’s campsites or cabins can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal.

Wooden Hiking Bridge in Ricketts Glen State Park Pennsylvania

When to Visit Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park can be visited throughout the year. Deciding what time is best for you to plan a visit will probably depend on which activities you hope to experience during your stay. Hikers and beach goers will want to visit the park in the summer when temperatures are at their highest. Wildlife enthusiasts will want to visit in the spring when wildlife is the most active. The fall is a great time to observe the changing colors of Ricketts Glen State Park, and winter is the best time to visit for visitors hoping to cross country ski, snow show, or ice fish within the park.

Must Have Items to Bring to Ricketts Glen State Park

Every trip outdoors requires packing and planning, and a trip to Ricketts Glen State Park is no exception. Below is a list of essential items List of Parks suggests visitors may want to consider bringing along with them to the park. 

Water & High Energy Snacks

Water and high energy snacks are essential for anyone spending extended time outdoors. Campers, hikers, and other strenuous outdoor recreators should bring additional supplies of water and snacks. Beef jerky, trail mix, dried fruit, and protein bars are great snack options that can be enjoyed on the trail, water, or beach.

Layers of Clothing

Due to its size and various geographic features, temperatures can vary within Ricketts Glen State Park at any given time. Wearing a series of layers to the park is the best way for visitors to prepare for all of the temperatures and weather they may experience at the park.

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Precipitation occurs regularly in Ricketts Glen State Park throughout the year. Visitors to the park should look to bring a lightweight rain jacket along with them to the park to combat sudden rainstorms.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

The various trails that make up the Ricketts Glen State Park trail system traverse various terrain and geographical features. To be best prepared for all of the park’s trails visitors should arrive at Ricketts Glen State Park wearing a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

Camping Equipment

The easiest way to remember all of your essential camping equipment when packing for Ricketts Glen State Park is to create a camping equipment checklist. This checklist can be utilized during packing and once again before leaving your house. 

Waterfall in Ricketts Glen State Park Pennsylvania

Where to Stay in Ricketts Glen State Park

Visitors looking to camp within Ricketts Glen State Park should obtain a reservation for one of the park’s cabins or campsites. These reservations can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to stay in a hotel in the area can first checkout options in Benton. Visitors requiring additional options can make the 45 miles trek to Scranton where there are a number of hotels and other lodging facilities. 

Food Near Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park maintains a concession area during the summer months where visitors can grab ice cream, snacks, and cold beverages. The closest food outside of the park is located in Benton. However, visitors craving additional options will want to make the hour drive to Scranton or another larger city surrounding the park.

Stream Cascading Through Ricketts Glen State Park Pennsylvania

Airports Near Ricketts Glen State Park

The closest airport to Ricketts Glen State Park is located in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia International Airport is 146 miles and a two hour and thirty-minute drive away from the park. Other nearby international airports include options in Pittsburgh and New York City. The Pittsburgh International Airport is 261 miles west of the park and the John F. Kennedy International Airport is located 170 miles southeast of the park.

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