Back in the spring of 2014 Roger and I looked at the 13 places to Visit in Pennsylvania article we found in Penn Live. One place that caught our eye was The Ganoga Falls in Ricketts Glen State Park. He kept begging for us to go, but I kept rolling my eyes at him and thinking it was too far to drive, and at the time, I wasn’t sure what the hike would be like or if the drive would be worth the hike, but he kept insisting and I agreed to go. I’m pretty sure it was because there was no zumba at Art in Motion that weekend. Looking back, I was pretty negative about the idea of the trip, and how I regret not having gone sooner. These are some of the things I remember about it, it has been one of the best trips we took last year.
Early that morning we packed some water, some Kind Bars and I also packed a yogurt. No, we had no idea what we were doing, how long the trail was, or how long it would take us to hike it. We only knew that the hike was difficult and muddy, but we didn’t look up how long it would take to hike it. Roger didn’t even bring a backpack, only his sweater. The drive took us a little over 2.5 hours, we made a few bathroom and food stops.
When we arrived to the park, used the bathroom, grabbed a map and headed to the falls. We thought this would take a couple of hours and when we would be heading back home to pick up dinner. So we walked slow and easy, snacking and taking pictures, enjoying the beautiful waterfalls. The hiking was somewhat difficult, some of the trails around the falls were very small, the steps were wet, muddy and steep, but the surroundings were breathtakingly beautiful. Most of the hike was going down, with little climbing.
We saw the first 5 falls and were ready to head back, when we realized that the biggest fall, the one we had come to see, Ganoga Falls, was in the opposite directions we had gone, and about 1.5 miles from where we were at. So we sat down and reviewed our plan, we could turn around and go home, and miss the biggest waterfall, the reason for the trip, or to speed up, skip pictures of the next 7 or so falls and make it up to Ganoga in 30 minutes. We picked the second option.
So we started walking, almost running downhill to the middle of the trail, bumped into a lot of people by accident, it seemed the closer we got to Ganoga, the more people we saw. After 15 minutes of speed hiking, we were sweating, out of breath and hot, but we pushed on… only stopping a couple of times, once to review the map, another to get a picture of an awesome waterfall and a couple sips of water.
When we arrived to Ganoga falls, we knew it was all worth it. The fall was a beautiful tall fall, we were at the bottom looking up at it, and the view was amazing. There were a lot of other people at Ganoga, families, groups of friends, professional photographers, all of us admiring the beauty of nature. We stayed at Ganoga, catching our breath, drinking water and enjoying the magnificent view.
After catching our breath, we walked around the fall a little, we were able to walk closer to the fall, so close we could feel the spray of the water. Some people were even trying to climb as high as they could to get closer.
The view was breathtaking, I took tons of pictures, and wanted to capture as much as I could of the entire scene, the noise of the water falling, the quiet of the trees, the rumblings of people around us. I took a short video to try to preserve this memory.
After about 40 minutes of ogling at the Ganoga, we started our hike back, mostly an uphill climb. After Ganoga, there were a few smaller falls and as we were very tired from our rush to get to Ganoga, we took it easy and slow. It was about 2 miles hike back to the car with some difficult climbs.
By the time we got back we were really hungry and really thirsty. We left and got some very well deserved Wendy’s burgers.
Some tips I gave my sisters when they went to hike the falls.
· Bring water, 2 bottles per person.
· Bring snacks, I highly recommend some type of granola, nut, or protein bar.
· Wear layers, and have a long sleeve shirt, even if you go in the summer. Temps are cooler up in the mountain.
· Very important! Wear sneakers, preferable hiking sneakers. The hike is difficult; some paths are narrow and muddy.
· Bring a picnic, or a sandwich. The hike is long, so I would not recommend brining a cooler on the hike, but definitely some food and snacks.
· Eat before going. Again, long and difficult hike.
· Use the bathroom before starting the hike. I know I said to bring water, but know that there are no other bathrooms other than the ones in the parking lots, which are FAR from the hiking trail.
· Take pictures, but enjoy the surroundings. The scenery in the park, like many parks in Pennsylvania is beautiful, I sometimes get caught up on wanting to capture all of it, that I lose track of enjoying the moment.
· And as always, take only pictures, leave only footprints.