Phillips Creek Vista- Ricketts Glen
This winter, I lead a hike to the Phillips Creek Vista on the east side of Ricketts Glen State Park. This beautiful view looks over the gorge of Phillips Creek, complete with a small lake, and the foothills and Pocono plateau in the distance. It is one of the finest vistas in the park. Keep in mind that more than a third of this hike is off trail, and you should be an experienced hiker to navigate. Also note the vista is at some cliffs and steep slopes, so care is required. The more challenging part of the hike is finding a way through the thick mountain laurel. Don’t be intimidated, there is a way through.
The hike starts out easy. Park at the Beach Lot #2 parking area near the cabins, and hike the trail to the Falls Trail around the cabin area. Where the Falls Trail goes right, turn left, and hike below the old Lake Leigh Dam. Here, turn right onto the Mountain Springs Trail; there is a waterfall below you on the right. Hike for three quarters of a mile under scenic hemlocks, and turn right onto the Old Bulldozer Road Trail. Pass an open meadow to the right with remnants of an old spring. Hike this trail for just over a half mile, and climb gradually.
You will leave the Old Bulldozer Road Trail to the left/east, off trail, when you reach a mountain laurel thicket. This thicket is large and dominates the forest understory; it is easy to notice. Follow the perimeter of the thicket, passing some hemlocks, and descending gradually. After a half mile, keep your eyes out for the white blazes of the old state park boundary at a wet area. This can be easy to miss. Turn right and follow the white markers. At first the trail is wet, but becomes better established and is an easy way through the impenetrable laurel. The laurel recedes and the forest opens. Leave the boundary markers and proceed off trail to the left, or east, through open forest for about four tenths of a mile. Descend to the edge of the plateau where low brush begins to grow. Keep near the edge, above a gorge, when the laurel returns. Thankfully, there are bear paths that make the hiking a bit easier. Follow the paths east.
As you work your away around the edge of the plateau, you will notice some rock outcrops and a pedestal rock; this is Phillips Creek Vista. There are three outcrops. To go from one to the other, climb into the laurel, because there is a very steep slope between two of the outcrops. The view is located at about 41.322398, -76.238516. Again, be careful. After enjoying the views, which stretch for about 40 miles, return the way you came. This hike is between four and five miles, one way.
Jeff Mitchell is the District Attorney of Wyoming County, and author of ‘Hiking the Endless Mountains,’ ‘Paddling Pennsylvania,’ and ‘Backpacking Pennsylvania.’