When Jay, a friend of mine, suggested that we take a trip to Ricketts Glen State Park to photograph the many waterfalls there I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I had no idea what I was in for since the only information I knew about the park was what I could find online. I knew it had some beautiful waterfalls and there would be some extensive hiking but I was in for a surprise.
We met up nice and early to start the 3 hour drive up into northern central Pennsylvania. As time went on and we got closer to the park we started to realize how perfect the weather was looking for us. We knew that we wouldn’t want full sun for photographing the waterfalls but total overcast could be dark and dull and we were thrilled to see a bright and mostly cloudy sky forming as we drove. It was the perfect combination of sun and clouds that we hoped wouldn’t change as the day went on.
As we arrived at the park I could already begin to tell how beautiful this area was. It was more mountainous than I was expecting and everything was bright green, as it should be in mid June. We parked the car, got all the gear together and immediately headed off into the trails.
Upon entering the first trail I was instantly overwhelmed with gorgeous scenery. The tall canopy of pines kept it nice and cool while the rays of sun streaking through were lighting up the vibrant green ferns and moss covered boulders, it was a photographer’s dream and I hadn’t laid eyes upon the first waterfall yet! Our pace quickened as we began to hear the first waterfall in the distance and my excitement increased with every step.
The “Falls Trail” that we decided to hike was a loop that winds its way along 22 named waterfalls plus countless other smaller falls. We had started at the top of the trail so our initial leg was downhill, allowing us to move even quicker. As we arrived at the first named waterfall I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought to myself “I could photograph just this spot for half the day.” Thankfully we didn’t because it only got better as we continued down the trail.
The first couple of falls that we stopped at were not very tall but each had beautiful surroundings and many layers to them, a nice easy start. Not much further down the trail we came to the large waterfall in the photo above. It can be rather difficult to see the scale of each waterfall but in this one there was a full size tree laying towards the bottom which helps to put into perspective the sheer size of some of these waterfalls.
Jay and I had each brought a tripod (a must for this type of photography) and a pack with a few additional lenses. I started out being very careful and would walk to each spot I was going to take a photo from and then mount my camera to the tripod and begin shooting. I quickly realized it was just easier to keep the camera on the tripod and cary the whole rig from spot to spot. I was stopping and shooting way to often to pack it up each time. It was tough at first to not stay in one place too long, but I tried to remember there were many more falls to come.
A few hours into the trip we stopped and had lunch. It’s tough to beat sitting out in the middle of the wilderness with a beautiful waterfall soundtrack for lunch. After a quick bite and a little time to relax we were right back at it photographing waterfall after waterfall. The photo above was one of my favorite views of the day. The series of waterfalls created so many layers which I used to attempt to create an interesting composition. It was a welcome challenge all day long to try to come up with interesting angles and all of the amazing rocks and fallen trees really helped. Just when I thought I’d seen one of the most beautiful spots so far that day we would walk around to the next fall and I would be amazed yet again.
We never completed the entire trail but did cover most of the loop. Jay had told me of the specific falls pictured below which was the waterfall with the most volume at the park. It was such a pristine area with the water cascading into a somewhat deep, incredibly clear pool of water and then running downstream over a field of beautifully worn and colorful rocks. As we stood downstream of the waterfall you could feel the mist cooling your entire body, this park just gets better and better.
After really taking some time to just enjoy the view and a short rest, it was time to head back to the car. We agreed that we would only stop at waterfalls that were really beautiful on our way back since it was starting to get a bit late. This was a great plan in theory but it seemed every time we would hike past a new waterfall we had to stop and photograph it since they never stopped being jaw-droppingly gorgeous. As my legs burned and my exhaustion grew I simultaneously looked forward to getting to the car but knew I would miss this lovely park. I can’t recommend enough to anyone interested to make the journey to this gem of a park nestled in the Pocono area of Pennsylvania. It will not disappoint!