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Hiking to Frozen Waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania

Hiking in a Winter Wonderland: Frozen Waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park

There are few places in Pennsylvania that are more awe-inspiring that the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park. In fact, this amazing trail made my Pennsylvania Bucket List, my list of the 7 Natural Wonders of Pennsylvania, and also was my pick for the number one place to visit in Luzerne County.

While this trail is beautiful throughout the year, the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park is sadly closed during the winter (Roughly from early November through late March, but the dates vary based on weather). However, for those with proper ice hiking equipment, it is possible to hike the trail during the winter.

Frozen Ganoga Falls at Ricketts Glen State Park

Ganoga Falls is seen on all hiking trips with Valley to Summit.

I, like many other hikers in Pennsylvania, don’t have the proper equipment or experience to tackle this trail on my own. However, Valley to Summit (VTS), a wilderness adventure company, offers all of the equipment and experienced guides needed to hike this trail during the winter.

Winter at Ricketts Glen State Park

Beautiful scenes abound along the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park.

Now in their third year of running winter hikes at Ricketts Glen, Valley to Summit offers the chance to see this area every weekend from January through March. Hikers can choose from a half-day hike to Ganoga Falls and back or a full-day hike that hikes through both Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen.

I had a chance to go hiking with the Valley to Summit team during one of their early-season hikes as they prepare and train for the upcoming season.

Winter hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania

Winter hiking along the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen.

Our hike started, as most of their hikes do, at the top of the Falls Trail near the Lake Rose Trailhead parking area. From here, it’s about a mile hike to the first waterfall, which is enough distance to get used to the crampons on your feet (which are supplied by Valley to Summit). In addition to the crampons, VTS provides ice axes, ropes, helmets, and harnesses to ensure that all hikes are completed safely.

Winter Hiking at Ricketts Glen State Park

The beauty of Ricketts Glen in the winter has to be seen to be believed.

The direction that you hike once you get onto the trail depends on the trip you are on. Full-day hikes typically hike over to Glen Leigh and hike down that side before going up Ganoga Glen. Half-day trips, on the other hand, hike down Ganoga Glen. For our trip, we hiked down Ganoga Glen.

While hiking here, the waterfalls come quickly one after the other. In fact, if you don’t pay attention, you might even miss some of them or mistake them for continuations of other waterfalls.

Winter on the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park

Waterfalls aren’t always frozen solid and often have some flow around the ice.

The trail through the gorge varies between snow covered, ice covered, and even spots with just dirt. While I was initially daunted by the idea of walking on ice, the hardest part of the hike is simply remembering to pick up your feet while hiking with spikes on the bottom of your shoes. While I had no problem navigating the icy and dangerous sections of the trail, the flat parts tripped me up on occasion when the spikes would hit something on the trail.

Icicles on the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park

Icicles form along the trail and some are upwards of 15-20 feet in height.

Seeing and photographing the frozen waterfalls on the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park is a truly amazing experience. Having previously only see this great area during warmer weather, it’s a unique experience to see it so quiet and peaceful. Even better, if you’re used to crowds on the Falls Trail, you’re likely to encounter next to no one else on the trail due to the conditions.

Frpzen waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen is peaceful and beautiful during the winter.

Without a doubt, if you love hiking and waterfalls, you definitely won’t want to miss the chance to hike at Ricketts Glen during the winter. While it is possible to do the trip without a guide, Valley To Summit makes the trip safer and easier by providing experienced guides and all the hiking gear you need.

You can find out more about their half-day and full-day ice-hiking trips on their website. Readers can get a discount on their trips by entering code “ICEHIKE70” (for a half-day hike for only $70) or “ICEHIKE85” (for a full-day hike for $85). The code is good for the entire 2017-2018 ice-hiking season.

Winter at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania

A close up look at a frozen Ganoga Falls.

Want to see even more Pennsylvania waterfalls? Visit our page full of the best waterfalls in PA!

See map below for other area attractions.

Winter hiking to see the frozen waterfalls at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania

AUTHOR - Jim Cheney

Jim Cheney is the creator of UncoveringPA.com. Based in the state capital of Harrisburg, Jim frequently travels around Pennsylvania and has visited all 67 counties in the state. Jim has also traveled to more than 30 different countries around the world.

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