Having grown up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I’ve been hiking in Ricketts Glen State Park since well before my college years. Not long after I took up photography, it became one of my favorite places to make photos as well. Next to bright vibrant colors, water is probably my second favorite photography subject. During most parts of the year Ricketts Glen State Park provides, as good ol’ Maverick would say, “a target-rich environment” for all things falling H2O.
If you’ve never been to Ricketts Glen you really owe it to yourself to schedule a day to hike around the falls trail. It’s not just that there’s 22 waterfalls within such close proximity, it’s the beauty and power of each one of the falls. After my first eye-opening trip to see the frozen falls this past winter, I can now say I’ve seen the Glen in each of the 4 seasons we fully experience here in the Northeast. There’s just something about the roar of the water continually pounding the rocks and the little nooks and crannies with beautiful runs in between each set of falls that keeps me coming back year after year.
That’s not to say that some days aren’t better than others to be at the Glen from a photography standpoint. Ideally, you’re looking for a moist, overcast day with maybe just the hint of rain in the air. When it’s raining, everything in the park glistens, from the round-off rocks smoothed from eons of water flow to the heavy green canopy surrounding you on all sides.
Unfortunately, the weekend I was able to get up this spring the aforementioned canopy wasn’t quite as green as I had hoped. I had forgotten that Northeast PA is about 2 weeks behind in terms of leaf budding than where I live 2 hours South. So that would be strike one. Strike two manifested itself as a beautiful, cool, cloudless day. For everyone else NOT taking pictures of waterfalls, it was idyllic weather.
My hiking partner for the day was Rob, a fellow photo enthusiast from Lancaster County. Rob and I got up about and hour and a half before the crack of dawn so we could drive up to Red Rock and get into the park and headed toward the first set of falls before sunrise. Given that we had consumed an unhealthy amount of some of the best Mexican food in coal country the night before, I will consider this journey one of my greatest lifetime achievements.
You generally want to get into the park fairly early on days where there’s going to be direct sunlight. Once the sun gets over the mountain ridge and above the tree canopy your ability to get long exposures on the falls without getting blinding white spots pretty much disappears.
We were able to shoot a fair amount of falls before the point in the trail called “Waters Meet” where, not surprisingly, two forks of falls trails converge. After that point, the sun was bright enough and had risen high enough in the sky to render our “photo” hike into just a “regular” hike. There were still some neat wildflowers along the path (Lots of Red Trillium) that provided some nice macro opportunities, and it’s always nice to sit and reflect at Adams Falls near the parking areas at the end of your journey.
We were down in the count, but a day spent hiking, talking, and grabbing what photos we could here and there is better than a day spent mulching my flower beds (much to my neighbor’s chagrin). There were no strikeouts on this trip.