Ricketts Glenn – A magical land of scenic waterfalls nestled into a beautiful forest that is reminiscent of something straight out of a fairy tale. Although I grew up in Pennsylvania, I unfortunately hadn’t heard about Ricketts Glenn until I moved out to Utah. But as soon as I heard about a place with 21 named waterfalls tucked into the Appalachian forest on a single trail, I knew that a trip there needed to happen in the foreseeable future. Because I live in Utah, traveling across the country to visit home does not always make it easy to squeeze in adventures in between seeing my friends & family, especially when that adventure is 5 hours from my hometown.
On my visit home I budgeted an extra week of time into the trip just to spend some time exploring Appalachia to see what sort of natural marvels the East had to offer, and I was not disappointed. I ended up visiting Ricketts Glenn in NE PA, The New River Gorge area in West Viriginia, and also Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. I’m only going to be covering Ricketts Glenn for now, but I have to say that I was completely blown away with the natural beauty out East once I sought after it.
21 waterfalls – Yes, you heard that right! Although Ricketts Glenn sports 26 miles of hiking trails, the “Falls Trail” is the bread and butter of the park. The Falls Trail has 21 named waterfalls along the trail, and many other smaller unnamed waterfalls throughout as well, and the easiest way to access the falls trail is from the Lake Rose Trailhead parking lot.
When doing research for the Falls Trail, you will see a lot of warnings about how dangerous the trail is, how important it is to take safety precautions and also to have proper footwear. While the Falls Trail is no walk through the park, I don’t think it’s exceptionally difficult and I would not consider this trail to be overly dangerous unless you had some inclement weather conditions or were not taking care to be safe. I’m not saying this is a trail you could take your grandma on (sorry grandma), but it’s not what people make it out to be online. Wear some shoes/boots with good traction, bring a rain jacket and some food/water for the day, but don’t let the online descriptions deter your visit.
The trip began with my flight coming into Pittsburgh at 9 that first night, and with a 5 hour drive ahead of us we were definitely going to be losing some sleep. Such is the life of a photographer though; I’ve come to accept that. One of my lifelong best friends, Justin Smith, picked me up from the airport that night and we were on our way! As soon as we got checked into our AirBNB (which was awesome. I’ll put a link at the bottom of this blog) we got a little rest, then we set out in the morning to chase water and the good light!
Day 1 was spent focusing on the first 10 waterfalls before the trail forked after Erie falls, and the second day was spent focusing on the 11 waterfalls on the rest of the trail. Since I only had 2 days, it was crucial to make the most out of each spot, but not get too consumed in a single area. Finite time always seems to be a tough obstacle with those far away photography destinations, but proper planning and knowing what spots you want to hit will always help. Preparation is key!
Below are some of my favorite photos from the trip – I hope you enjoy! Oh, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled along the way for the unnamed smaller/unique waterfalls because they can be quite captivating! In fact, one of my favorite spots that I have a photo of below wasn’t even named or along the main trail, but there was a nice side trail that led up to the peaceful little spot. I named it the Grotto, but by no means is that anything official.
Thanks for reading and I hope you got some good information and/or inspiration to pay a visit to this wonderful place. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the Glenn and hopefully I can help answer them. If you’re looking for a place to crash in the area, we had a great stay with Jackie and Chris at their AirBNB – https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11872938.