Hello everyone! I eluded to a fun weekend in my last post and I’m finally back: Rob and I went camping for 4 nights at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania! It was my birthday and we did this as a little treat to get away and spend some time together.
We arrived on Thursday after an easy drive (it is about 3 and a half hours away). We had stopped at the grocery store to get some food for the weekend. We kept it cold by refilling the cooler with ice each day at a small corner store by the campsite.
This was the first time we got to use our tent we bought last year so I was really excited. It was my first time camping! The campsite was really clean and pretty. There were bathrooms with hot showers a short walk away. We got a site along the perimeter. Normally, there is a lake but they are doing work on the dam so they had to drain it.
Rob is still eating a low carb diet so we had a lot of meat on this trip (hence the necessity for a cooler). The first night, we cooked pork chops over the fire and this was the most amazing meal all weekend.
The campsite was really empty and quiet on Thursday. We only saw a few other camps. We decided to head to bed at dark (around 9:30) to get a jump start on the next day.
We got up bright and early around 6 since we happened to face our tent right into the sun!
We busted out the Coleman grill to make breakfast since a fire takes too long to start and put out again. Rob brought bacon while I tried making instant oatmeal.
You know I remembered the coffee! The pans are my dad’s old camping (and military) stuff that he lent us for the trip. They were really awesome and everything closed up on itself and the handle clipped around it all to keep it closed. The silverware were also his and I clipped them together with a carabineer so keep it organized. Breakfast wasn’t a hit and we didn’t do this again.
After breakfast, we headed over to hike the Falls Trail in the park. We decided to hike from the top of the falls, parking our car at Lake Rose parking lot. The entire trail actually starts at the bottom of the mountain (Red Rock mountain). If you park on Route 118 (not shown), the trail is 7.2 miles long. We weren’t sure what we were in for so we started at the top so we could cut out some of the lower trail.
We decided to go around clockwise and started with the Highland Trail which is basically flat and even across the top of the mountain and is 1.2 miles long. It was a nice way to warm up for the climbing ahead.
The coolest park about this trail was the cute little path cut through the rocks. It was only like 20 feet long but still fun.
Since we were hiking from the top down and then back up the other side, we were seeing our first waterfalls from the top of the cliff.
There are a total of 21 waterfalls on the entire Falls Trail. We wanted to make sure we hit each and every one. I won’t pain you by posting every picture I took!
This is when the hiking got a lot tougher also, since we were climbing down and then up the mountain. The path was very clear but still hard. The incline was the hardest part. We didn’t know it at the time, but we took the less-steep side down and were in for some tough climbing on the way back up!
You can see the “trail” on the right
The views were absolutely amazing but you had to stop to see. There was no looking up while on the move or you might trip or slide. I bought hiking boots specifically for this trip after reading about the park. While you could get away with a grippy pair of sneakers, I feel like it would be risky and slow you down quite a bit. I was able to plow through faster since I was secure in my boots with ankle support. I wore the Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX and was in the love the entire weekend! Now I know why Rob wears boots all of the time. So comfy!
So you are probably thinking “Show me a picture of a waterfall already!” Okay…
About half way down the first side, I got hungry (because breakfast was a flop) and we stopped to have lunch. We found a nice rock facing a waterfall and busted out our well packed foods.
We chose Starkist tuna packets (no can opener needed and easier to pack than a pop-on can!) and I added a Kind bar for more carbs and fat. We drank tons of water throughout the hike which Rob carried in his pack. I had a small bag with camera stuff.
I wore my Garmin for the duration of the hike but decided to stop it while we ate to save battery. There is no cellular service on the mountain so I was glad I had a GPS watch that doesn’t need internet to work! I was most curious to see the elevation map once it was uploaded. Here is the first half of the hike:
It seemed like the first half of the hike flew by. Before we knew it, we were at “Waters Meet” and headed down the trail toward 118 to see the 3 falls on that end. There was one waterfall just asking to be swam in but sadly, it isn’t allowed in the park (probably because of rapids, rocks, etc.)
From here on up, the trail got much tougher, mostly because it was steeper. Though we were climbing the same elevation, it felt much faster.
You can see that there were sections of “steps” made out of rocks, cut out of the mountain, and occasionally wooden installed stairs. Most often, it was cut rocks and they tended to be slippery due to water run off from cliffs above.
There wasn’t much wildlife to be seen in the park that I don’t see at home but there was an abundance of butterflies!
On our way back up, we had to take a lot of rest breaks. It was killing me! The stairs were the worst part. Sometimes, you felt as if you were stepping up onto a tall chair. Eventually, we made our way to the tallest waterfall, Ganoga Falls at 94 feet.
The climb to the top of this fall was pretty much straight up and was kicking my butt. It seemed like every time you reached a flat part, there was just another incline just around the corner.
So many stairs
Finally, we reached the top with a total hike 4.54 miles long and an elevation gain of 903 feet all done in about 3 hours and 43 minutes! Post lunch map:
Like I said, we definitely took the more difficult route up and might have been faster if we had gone the other way. It was glorious walking up to the big falls from the bottom though, which is why we chosen the direction we did.
After the hike, we still had plenty of daylight left and not much to do at the campsite. We decided to go exploring the nearby towns and ended up in Dushore, PA a few miles away. It is a small mountain town. We had lunch at the local gift/clothing/fabric/everything store/diner.
We also got more supplies for the campsite and then headed back, where we took a detour into Lopez, PA because I saw a sign for a Russian Orthodox Cemetery. My parents are Russian Orthodox and I was raised in the same church so I was curious. This little bitty town had a cute little church!
When I got home and told my dad about it, he said “oh yes, there is a huge Russian population up there”. Well, who knew! (Dad did). After that, we just headed back to the park for dinner and another early bed time. This time, it was a necessity due to heavy thunderstorms!
I still have 2 more days to talk about so I’ll be back tomorrow for another post!