Friday, September 6, 2013

Great Fall Getaways: PA State Parks

With school starting up again next week, my husband, daughter and I decided to have one last family adventure this past week by renting a cabin in one of Pennsylvania's most beautiful state parks, Ricketts Glen.  Renown for its spectacular lake, Lake Jean, and amazing hiking trails featuring a series of majestic waterfalls, Ricketts Glen is a nature lover's dream.  We were very fortunate to be there just as the first hints of autumn color were beginning to appear on the trees, and to experience beautiful weather conditions during our stay that allowed for some fantastic night-sky viewing!

If you've never camped in a cabin, you're really missing out!  We usually camp in the more traditional sense, (tent, lanterns, coolers, etc.); but spending a few days living in a cabin appointed with simple furnishings (including bunk beds that thrilled my daughter!), basic appliances (stove, refrigerator), heat (temperatures dropped to the high 40s at night), and water (I can't begin to explain how luxurious it was to have a bathroom on site!), was exciting, relaxing, and comfortable! 

images courtesy of the Winsch family
We took advantage of the beautiful beach the day we arrived, though it was a bit cool for swimming, and spent most of the next day hiking the 4-mile trail that highlights the park's 22 breath-taking waterfalls.  It was a rather strenuous hike, and I don't recommend it for families with very young children, but most school-aged children would really enjoy it, though caution is necessary given the nature of the trail (slippery in spots, steep descents and ascents, rustic terrain).  Our favorites were the stacked falls, Shawnee and Huron (combined over 70 feet in height!), and the park's highest falls, Ganoga, at a height of 94 feet!  The park boasted a number of other scenic trails, but with only two full days to explore, we didn't get the chance to experience them all!

Boulder Field at Hickory Run
So if you're looking for an amazing autumn getaway, check out state parks in your area - they are full of opportunities to spend family time together enjoying the great outdoors and experiencing nature's most spectacular wonders!  And if you're lucky enough to live in the northeast U.S., I highly recommend looking into Ricketts Glen State Park and the surrounding areas (on our trip home we explored another local natural wonder, Boulder Field, at Hickory Run State Park).

Safe and happy travels!

-Destination Mom

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