World Waterfall Database

Adams Falls

Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States

Status: Cataloged
This waterfall has been surveyed by members of the World Waterfall Database.

Detailed Info

Ricketts Glen State Park is as close to a Waterfall Mecca as it gets within the United States. Within the confines of the park are 24 named waterfalls and dozens of small scenic cascades in between, all but one of which can be seen via a relatively easy hike in one day. All of the waterfalls occur within the Kitchen Creek drainage, split roughly in half between two branches of the stream which originate in different lakes and marshes on the plateau above the glens, and 5 of the falls found downstream of the confluence of the two branches.

Adams Falls is the final waterfall along Kitchen Creek, and in our opinion, perhaps the most scenic and geologically unique waterfall in the entire park. Here Kitchen Creek spills down the short but highly interesting Kitchen Creek Gorge, first plunging into a narrow slot at Kitchen Creek Falls just upstream from Adams Falls, and then after slowly simmering in a large eddy, funneling into the main drop of Adams Falls. The water pours into a fairly narrow pothole which quite literally seems to resemble a funnel of sorts - wider at the top and narrower at the bottom, and then breached near its base on the downstream side, which creates the appearance of the falls squirting out of an extremely narrow crevice in the rock when viewed head on. Before the bottom of the 24 foot main drop however, the creek impacts on a ledge and explodes up and outward (at least during periods of heavier flow) in a unique fan-shape.

Below the main drop, the creek flows through more calm potholes in the bedrock, with fascinating striated cliffs lining either side of the gorge. The second tier follows quickly, dropping only 4 feet but over a very eye-catching ledge which resembles a clamshell. During periods of low flow the stream funnels to the far left side of this ledge and the majority of it becomes dry. The final tier is found immediately below the second, which sees the stream split into parallel channels and flume another 10 feet into a large swirling basin below. It did not appear possible to view all three tiers collectively, though we didn't try to do this during our survey of the site in May 2018.

The Kitchen Creek drainage above Route 118 covers an area of approximately 9 square miles in size, and includes several lakes and areas of marsh which retain ground water well even in dry periods. Though the basin is of moderately large size, the volume of water in the creek can vary substantially as the seasons progress, or as severe weather moves through. In general the streamflow will be at its lowest from late July through the end of September, but ample water will be present year round to make this waterfall presentable.

History and Naming

Adams Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.

Ricketts Glen was named for members of the Ricketts family who settled near Lake Ganoga in the mid-1850s and built a small hunting lodge and tavern on the shore of the lake. The family was not aware of the presence of the waterfalls on Kitchen Creek until 1865 when guests of the hotel wandered down the creek to go fishing. After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, Robert Bruce Ricketts purchased most of the land which now makes up the park, expanded the hotel, built a lumber mill, and developed trails in the area to allow the waterfalls to be visited as attractions.

In 1913 the area was opened to the public, and operated as a private park until it reverted to state control after the Ricketts family sold the land and opened as a state park in 1943. A plan was in place in 1935 to convert Ricketts Glen to a National Park, however funding was sidetracked and thanks to financial hardships of the Great Depression and World War 2, and the National Park never came to fruition.

Twenty-two of the named waterfalls in the park were thought to be given their titles by Robert Bruce Ricketts. More than a dozen of the waterfalls were given Native American names, and several others bear the names of members or friends of the Ricketts family. This waterfall was named for Adam Kale, a watchman on Kitchen Creek employed by the North Mountain Fishing Club.

Location & Directions

Coordinates:   41.29937, -76.27403
Elevation:   1245 feet

The main entrance to Ricketts Glen State Park at Lake Jean is located along PA Route 487 between the towns of Lopez and Red Rock, about 25 west-northwest of Wilkes-Barre, or 37 miles east of Williamsport (as the crow flies). However the falls below Route 118 are most directly accessed from the Evergreen Trailhead, located on the south side of Route 118 just west of the Kitchen Creek bridge, about 1.6 miles east of the junction with PA Route 487 in Red Rock. The larger Route 118 Trailhead parking area is located just to the east of the bridge on the opposite side of the road.

Adams Falls is located just a stone's throw downstream of the Evergreen Trail parking lot. A staircase leads quickly to the top of the falls, and a secondary set of stairs descends to the primary viewpoint of the falls atop a large rock promontory along the rim of the gorge. The lower tier of the falls can be seen by continuing downstream on the Evergreen Trail for a few hundred feet to a footbridge, crossing and then doubling back upstream on an informal path that leads to the basin below the falls.

View this location in Google Earth

Other Nearby Waterfalls

Additional Waterfalls which occur within 5 miles of Adams Falls
No additional waterfalls were found within 5 miles.

By The Numbers

The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. This information may be changed at any given time to ensure accuracy.

Total Height

The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.

Tallest Drop

The Tallest Drop figure represents the height of the largest single drop within a multi-stepped waterfall. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.

Num of Drops

The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall. Stretches of interstitial stream in between two or more distinct drops of a single waterfall are NOT considered to be distinct drops of the waterfall unless the section of stream in question would otherwise qualify as a waterfall were it to be isolated.

Avg Width

The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. Often this number will be approximated because of a lack of approachability to many waterfalls. We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it.

Maximum Width

Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. For smaller waterfalls, this figure will generally not differ much from the Average Width measurement, but for broader waterfalls - especially those that feature a crest that isn't constricted - this figure can at times be consideraby larger. Like the Average Width measurement, this measurement will take into account the difference in width at the top and bottom of the waterfall as much as possible, but will often be made based on the width of the crest of th falls alone.

Pitch

The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. The Pitch figure only takes into account sections of stream which are actively falling. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. As an example, a waterfall which features two truly free-falling leaps separated by several dozen yards of flat stream will have a Pitch of 90 degrees. Similarly, a waterfall with two drops separated by a pool, one with a true free-falling drop, and one with a Horsetail type fall will average the two, so while the Plunging drop has a Pitch of 90 degrees, if the Horsetail drop has a Pitch of 45 degrees, the total Pitch will be roughly 67 degrees.

Run

The Run of a waterfall is a measurement representing the total linear distance on the ground between the top and bottom of a waterfall. This figure is not often easy to establish with a high degree of precision and as such will often be estimated. Waterfalls with a longer Run will usually either be less steep, often cascading type waterfalls, or will feature multiple steps separated by shorter stretches of a more gradual gradient streambed.

Form

The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. There are five primary Categories of falls in this system: Plunge, Horsetail, Steep Cascades, Shallow Cascades, and Rapids. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. For more information on our waterfall form classifications, see the Help page.

Watershed

The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. For example, Washington's Palouse Falls occurs along the Palouse River - which is a tributary to the Snake River, which is itself a tributary to the Columbia River, which ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean, so Palouse Falls would then fall within the Columbia River watershed. Streams which empty directly into the ocean, or into a minor basin which then empties to the ocean will often have this field left blank.

Stream

The name of the watercourse which the waterfall occurs along. If the watercourse is not known to have an officially or colloquially recognized name, this field is left blank.

Avg Volume

The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. We will rely on USGS data as much as possible, and attempt to take into account seasonal fluctuations in stream levels if possible. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best.

Source

If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. The source of the stream may also be either unknown or undetermined.

Flow Consistency

A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Entries which specify a Flow Consistncy of 12 Months should in general have an acceptable flow at any time of year (but may be better during certain periods - see below).

Best Flow

A general estimate of the best period of the year during which time the falls will be considered at optimal conditions, or flowing at their best. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light.

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Key

Cataloged Icon
Cataloged
Waterfalls which are Cataloged we have visited and surveyed in person. Statistical information should be quite accurate (for the most part), and exact measurements will often be available (information is not guaranteed to always be up to date). Detailed information, directions, and photographs will almost always be available.
Confirmed Icon
Confirmed
Confirmed Waterfalls are known to exist, should be relatively accurately mapped and geotagged, and the statistical information available will often be dependable. If height information is presented, it may be estimated but should be accurate. Directions will not likely be available.
Unconfirmed Icon
Unconfirmed
Unconfirmed Waterfalls are often marked on a published map, but we have yet to confirm the exact location and / or whether or not its stature is significant enough to qualify for listing in the database. Statistical information may be estimated and may be inaccurate. No directions.
Unknown Icon
Unknown
Waterfalls marked as Unknown are either suspected to exist based on heresay or a hunch, or we have received unverified information suggesting a waterfall may exist near the location provided but cannot corroborate it in any way. Geodata may not be accurate, the location may not be known at all, and statistical information will be estimated and highly inaccurate.
Inundated Icon
Inundated
Inundated Waterfalls have been submerged beneath lakes or reservoirs, usually a result of impoundment of a river behind a dam, and most often no longer functionally exist (there may be rare exceptions). We maintain records for these features out of historical importance.
Subterranean Icon
Subterranean
Though not common, some waterfalls can be found entirely underground within cave systems. Access to subterranean waterfalls can vary from easy via developed walkways to requiring a high level of extremely technical spelunking skill, including familiarity with ropework and a distinct lack of claustrophobia.
Disqualified Icon
Disqualified
Waterfalls which have been marked as Disqualified do not have the necessary stature or features to qualify as a legitimate waterfall according to our criteria. We will maintain records for entries with this status where the feature is well known and / or may have been historically referred to as a waterfall at some point in time.
Posted Icon
Posted
Posted Waterfalls are known to exist, and we may have a large amount of information associated with them, but are located on private property and are not legally accessible to the general public. Accessing waterfalls with this status should not be attempted without first being explicitly granted permission of the property owner.
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