Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, United States
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.
Ganoga Falls is the fourth waterfall along the Ganoga Glen branch of Kitchen Creek, as well as the tallest waterfall in Ricketts Glen State Park, and probably one of the top five tallest waterfalls in the state of Pennsylvania – determining exactly where it places will require accurate surveying of several other waterfalls. The falls drop 89 feet in two distinct steps, first tumbling down a stairstep ledge for 48 feet, veiling outward as it falls, and then after a very quick pause on a shelf, plunging an additional 41 feet in a broad curtain form over the second half of its descent.
The park literature cites Ganoga Falls as dropping 94 feet, our measurements came in slightly under that figure during our survey in May of 2018, but are close enough to be within the margin of error. This discrepancy in height however may knock it down a place or two in the list of Pennsylvania’s tallest waterfalls, though it should end up no lower than 5th tallest in the state when all is said and done, if not higher (though even at 94 feet, it may be no better than 3rd place).
The drainage area for the Ganoga Glen branch of Kitchen Creek covers about 4 square miles upstream of Mohawk Falls at the top of Ganoga Glen, and includes several lakes and areas of marsh which retain ground water well even in dry periods. Though the basin is of moderate 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 water will be present year round.
History and Naming
Ganoga Falls is the Official name of this waterfall.
Has also been known as:
- Bridal Veil Falls
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. Ganoga is a word from the Seneca dialect meaning roughly "water on the mountain". The falls were at one time, long ago, once also known as Bridal Veil Falls - likely before Ricketts named most of the falls along the branches of Kitchen Creek.
Location & Directions
Coordinates: Unknown Elevation: 1990 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). From the park entrance, cross the Lake Jean dam and then turn right where signs point to the Lake Rose Trailhead, and follow the road to the large parking area at its end. Additional Parking is available at Beach Lot #2 Trailhead, and at the Route 118 Trailhead (starting at Lake Rose is the shortest approach to the waterfalls).
From the Lake Rose Trailhead, follow the Falls Trail to the first junction in about two-tenths of a mile. If you plan on hiking the full loop, this is your return point. We recommend hiking the loop clockwise.
To reach the bottom of Ganoga Falls, bear right at the junction and continue for another tenth of a mile to the next junction just after crossing Kitchen Creek on a footbridge, then turn left and begin down the Ganoga Glen Trail. Continue downstream along Ganoga Glen for another 1/2-mile to where the trail reaches the base of the falls. A view of the upper part of the falls can also be had from a ledge part way down the trail as it descends past the falls at a switchback.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.Close
CatalogedWaterfalls 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.
ConfirmedConfirmed 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.
UnconfirmedUnconfirmed 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.
UnknownWaterfalls 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.
InundatedInundated 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.
SubterraneanThough 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.
DisqualifiedWaterfalls 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.
PostedPosted 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.