Monday, October 25, 2010

Ricketts Glen State Park

The secret location for our day of family fun is located 30 miles north of Bloomsburg, PA.  Ricketts Glen State Park, a national natural landmark for old-growth trees (some trees are estimated to be 500-900 years old).  The park is located on 13,000 acres and was originally settled by the Susquehannock Indians.  We enjoyed a four-mile hike where we were able to view 22 waterfalls, ranging in height from several feet to 94 feet. 

I have been to Ricketts Glen before - once when I was young, again when I was a teenager, and then with Rob when we were in college.  I think the most beautiful time was during the winter, some of the water was frozen and it was stunning.  The park does allow "ice hiking", where crampons are required.  Um, no thanks.  

I have come to the realization that Rob and I are in our "golden years" of child-rearing.  Our kids are school-age, but young enough to still want to spend time with us.  We are past the diaper and stroller stage - and have not hit the hormone-filled teen years.  I plan to take every advantage and make as many memories as possible! 

Our day started with the revelation of our destination.  I prepared a few simple clues - which were to culminate with a grid-line on an atlas where they would discover the state park.  I was not able to locate our atlas and it is impossible to find a free atlas page on the internet.  So, I just had to give the kids the "fact sheet" that I had borrowed from wiki. 

I hand-picked some general information I thought the kids would find interesting

here are the clues - very basic: charcoal, leaves, waterfall pic

We were supposed to leave at 7:00am.  I know my family well enough to realize this was a pipe-dream.  Kate, on the other hand, is very literal and was awake and ready at 6:15am.  Her patience was rewarded when I chose to reveal to her our plan for the day - before Josh and Emma.  None of the kids were excited to be driving for a hike.  I was not concerned, because I had a few secret weapons up my sleeve.

And the first was - donuts.

My kids, like me - are pretty easy to bribe. 

Our drive time was about two and a half hours, so I rented "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" to watch in the car.  It was really funny and it was great to hear the belly-laughs of our kids. 

We arrived at Ricketts Glen around noon and were a little surprised to realize that the forecast was a little off.  Instead of sunny and 65 degrees, we were greeted with drizzle and 50 degrees.  Fortunately, I had grabbed a few extra layers for everyone and we just piled on the clothing. 

The hike that we had planned for, the Falls Trail, is a 3.2 mile loop - about 7 miles if you need to double-back.  I would estimate that our hike was about 4 and a half miles - we decided to take a short-cut instead of doubling back.  The kids loved it.  The park was crowded, probably because this was peak leaf-viewing season.  The hike was challenging.  Basically, the trail follows the waterfalls up and down a 2000 foot mountain.  As we were climbing back up the elevation, it did get a little tiring, but the scenery was such that it was more than bearable.  Actually, I would have loved to hike uphill much more, that was the first time I was warm. 

Here are some of our pictures from the hike. 

adding their names to the wall

the top of Ganoga- looking down 94 feet

in front of the Ganoga waterfall, 94 ft

The hike was great - the scenery was breathtaking.  I would, however, not have wanted to attempt this hike with children any younger than Emma's age.  There is basically no protection.  There are no hand rails, the hike is comprised largely of rock ledges and when they are wet - one slip and it could be disastrous.  We saw a few people who appeared a little less than sure-footed and I was thankful for our capabilities.  We saw one person fall and thankfully it was a lateral fall and nothing that caused injury. 

yes, that's the trail, to the left of the rock formation

We finished our hike (after waiting out a 15 minute shower underneath a hemlock) around 3:30 and we were starving.  We planned to grill our food at one of picnic pavilions that offered charcoal grills.  I had planned ahead as best as possible and brought smoked sausage (for sandwiches) and veggie packets with potatoes, onions, peppers and carrots - that I had pre-steamed.  Basically we just needed to re-heat our dinner.  Thankfully, the grill we'd chosen was still warm from lunch, because the charcoal we'd brought from our garage was about ten years old.  Rob is extremely resourceful and before long we were scarfing down our dinners. 
nothing fancy, but it sure tasted great!

We left the park around 5:00 and the sun was finally shining.  The surrounding countryside and mountains were beautiful, especially in the setting sun. 

Lake Rose, on our exit from the park

the Appalachian mountains

a pumpkin patch outside of Benton, PA
We had a fantastic day.  Really, really fantastic.  If you'd like to check out all of the pics, here is the link.


  1. Kirsten , It looks like you all had fabulous day. You look so blessedly happy. Isnt it amazing what a little time out can do for your soul and your family!

    So glad you had the opportunity to create some lovely family memories. Thanks for sharing your day with us.

  2. What a great family day. Wish we could have been along. Love waterfalls and hiking. Glad you made some wonderful memories. (I finally am able to post a comment)

    Aunt Ilene

  3. Looks like such a fun day, Kirs!! Glad it went as planned and that your fam trusted you to plan an adventure :) I look forward to visiting there someday, it looks gorgeous!!