Ricketts Glen harbors Glens Natural Area, a National Natural Landmark. Take the Falls Trail and explore the Glens which boasts a series of wild, free-flowing waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in this ancient hillside. The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls. Old growth timber and diverse wildlife add to the scenic area.
Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most scenic areas in Pennsylvania. This large park is comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia counties.
The Glens Natural Area, a Registered National Natural Landmark since October 12, 1969, is the main scenic attraction in the park. Two branches of Kitchen Creek cut through the deep gorges of Ganoga Glen and Glen Leigh and unite at "Waters Meet" and then flow through Ricketts Glen, among giant pines, hemlocks and oaks. Many of the magnificent trees in this area are over 500 years old and ring counts on fallen trees have revealed ages as high as 900 years. Diameters of almost five feet are common and many trees tower to 100 feet in height. The area is the meeting ground of the southern and northern hardwood types, creating an extensive variety of trees.
In 1993, the Glens Natural Area became a State Park Natural Area and will be protected and maintained in a natural state.
A series of trails, covering a total of five miles, parallel the streams as they course down the Glens. A shorter hike of ½ mile, the Evergreen Trail, offers an excellent view of the final series of falls as it meanders through a majestic stand of giant hemlocks and white pine. For more information on hiking, see the "Hiking" section in this guide.
Trails vary from fairly level to very steep hills. The 26 miles of trails are a prime attraction of the park.
CAUTION: Hikers on the Falls Trail should be in good physical condition, wear sturdy boots, and use caution due to slippery/wet conditions and steep trail sections.
The following guidelines will help ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience while at the park.
Always wear sturdy boots. Wearing sneakers, sandals, "water shoes" and "street shoes" can lead to serious accidents in this park.
Be prepared. Have proper clothing and equipment (i.e. compass, map, matches, water, food, flashlight, etc.) available in case of an emergency. This is especially important when traveling remote trails or when hiking during non-summer seasons.
Give yourself plenty of time for your hike. The weather changes quickly in the park. Plan to be off the trails well before dark.
Let someone know where you are hiking and when you should return.
Remain on the trails. Leaving the trail causes damage to unique natural resources, promotes erosion and can be dangerous.
Don't take short cuts from one trail section to another. Taking short cuts down switchbacks is dangerous and causes trail damage.
Double blazes indicate a change in the trail's direction.
The 600-foot beach is open daily from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day unless otherwise posted. The regular hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A food and refreshment concession and picnic facilities are located nearby.
BOATING on Lake Jean
electric motors only
Lake Jean is 245 acres. Non-powered boats must have one of the following: state park launching permit or state park mooring permit which are available at most state park offices; or current Pennsylvania boat registration. Motorboats must display a current boat registration. Boats registered in other states must display a Pennsylvania state park launch permit or mooring permit in addition to their current registration.
Dry mooring and one boat launch are available. A boat rental concession operates during the summer season and offers rowboats, paddleboats and canoes.
Anglers will find warm-water game fish and panfish in Lake Jean. Mountain Springs Lake, a 40-acre lake owned by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, adjoins the eastern end of the park and offers trout and panfish. All rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission apply to fishing both in the park and at Mountain Springs Lake.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, Robert Bruce Ricketts enlisted as a private in the U. S. Army. Fighting for the Army of the Potomac, Ricketts led Battery F during the Battle of Gettysburg. Ricketts swiftly moved up in the ranks and when the war ended, was discharged a colonel.
Colonel Ricketts at one time owned outright or controlled over 80,000 acres of land in this area. His heirs, through the Central Penn Lumber Company, sold 48,000 acres to the Pennsylvania Game Commission from 1920-24. This left them with over 12,000 acres surrounding the Ganoga Lake, Lake Jean and Glens area. Although the area was approved as a national park site in the 1930s, World War II brought an end to this plan for development and in 1942 the heirs sold 1,261 acres, the Falls and Glens area, to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a state park. Additional purchases from Colonel Rickett's son, William Ricketts, in 1943 and 1949, resulted in a park nucleus of approximately 10,000 acres of former Ricketts holdings. Additional purchases from other individuals have brought the park to its present size. Recreational facilities were first opened in 1944