Ricketts Glen is one of PA’s most popular, and beautiful, state parks. The famed Falls Trail takes hikers under old growth forests and along many waterfalls. However, this large park has many secrets besides the popular Falls Trail. I decided to explore Maple Spring Run to see what hid in its deep, isolated gorge.
I parked off of PA 118 and walked up the Falls Trail, passing several other hikers. This trail was not crowded, yet. After the third bridge, I went off the Falls Trail and began to bushwhack up Maple Spring Run. I soon encountered a maintenance trail to allow workers to access the Falls Trail for repairs. I continued up Maple Spring Run and was impressed by the towering trees and pristine stream that tumbled over mossy boulders. The stinging nettle made the hiking tedious, so I stayed close to the creek. A side stream joined from the left and I continued right. The gorge became steeper and I soon encountered the first falls, partially concealed by a fallen log. It was about 20 feet tall.
I scrambled above to see a series of beautiful cascades that led to huge boulders, ledges and a 15 foot falls. This gorge was once home to some truly huge hemlock trees. Sadly, most are now dead. Regardless, the isolation and scenery made Maple Spring Run feel primeval.
I climbed above this second falls and pushed upstream over the difficult terrain. I soon reached the finest falls on Maple Spring Run- Porcupine Falls. A truly beautiful sight with a column of water dropping straight off a cliff. There were additional 8 foot drops above and below. In total, this falls is about 40 feet tall; the two uppermost drops make the falls about 25 feet tall.
Nearby were cliffs and ledges with rock overhangs. I scrambled to the top to see some partial views from the cliffs into the misty gorge below.
I continued up the creek to see more cascades under hemlocks. I came to a final falls, about 20 feet tall in a glen. Another climb brought me to the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, where I turned right. It seemed so easy to hike on a level, established trail as I sailed through beautiful forests of pine, hemlock, and laurel. I could hear the waterfalls of Kitchen Creek roaring far below.
Another trail soon returned me to the Falls Trail in Ganoga Glen. After hiking alone in the rugged wilderness of Maple Spring Run, I had culture shock from being surrounded by so many people. The Falls Trail was impressive with the high water flow and tremendous, powerful falls. Each was impressive, particularly Ganoga Falls, but I tried to avoid the crowds. I began to miss the isolation of Maple Spring Run.
I retraced my steps and returned to my car. I know there are more secrets in this famous park.
When hiking Maple Spring Run, keep in mind it is rugged and stinging nettle is prevalent in summer. This is a small stream that can disappear when it is dry out. This is far more difficult than the Falls Trail and only experienced hikers should attempt it.
For the map below, the route along Maple Spring Run is off trail and not blazed.