In the Woods
The diverse landscape of Columbia and Montour counties includes several outstanding wooded natural areas. Ricketts Glen State Park and Weiser State Forest are the two primary locations where visitors may enjoy spending a tranquil day in the woods.
Ricketts Glen State Park
Ricketts Glen State Park is one of the most scenic areas in all of Pennsylvania. The park is located 30 miles north of Bloomsburg on Route 487. With 22 breathtaking waterfalls and a variety of recreational opportunities, this State Park is a must for your bucket list. The Glens Natural Area is recognized as a National Natural Landmark. Hike the trails and explore the ancient hillsides and mystical Glens. The Falls Trail system consists of 7.2 total miles of difficult hiking trails and takes intrepid adventurers directly past 21 of the park’s stunning waterfalls, including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls. Old growth timber and diverse wildlife add to the beauty. As per the PA DCNR website, the terrain is rocky, can be slippery and descends steeply on both the Ganoga and Glen Leigh sides of the Falls Trail. Hikers should take extra precautions with trail conditions, wear proper footwear, stay on the trail and be in good physical condition before attempting to hike the loop. Ricketts Glen’s trail system closes for the winter months, and is only open to experienced ice climbers who gain proper permissions from the park office.
The park also offers fishing, boating, swimming, family or group camping, cabins, winter sports, bridle trails, environmental education, and hunting. Non-powered and registered electric powered boats are permitted on the 245-acre Lake Jean. Canoes and rowboats may be rented during the summer season. A beach area is available for swimming from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Lake Jean offers anglers warm water game fish and pan fish. Several creeks also harbor trout.
Weiser State Forest
The Weiser State Forest – Roaring Creek Tract encompasses 9,020 acres and is located in southern Columbia County. The tract is a favorite local attraction for both experienced outdoorsmen and families on an outing. An eight mile hiking/biking trail exists, as well as shared use trails (hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing) up to 40 miles in length. The forest also allows for various hunting, fishing, and picnicking. State Forests are working forests where outdoor recreation, as well as natural resources, is managed for long-term sustainability. Weiser State Forest is open year-round.
For an enjoyable afternoon steeped in local history, be sure to check out the historic miner’s trails in the State Forest. In the 1800s, coal mining was the booming industry in the region. Miners would routinely group up in the early hours of the morning, walk over the mountain, and begin a long, grueling day of work in the mines and collieries. The paths that these miners took to get to work eventually disappeared into the dense forest as the mines closed and more sophisticated means of travel came into place. However, in the early 2000s, a local historical group worked to re-establish the old miner trails. Now, the trails serve as important reminders to the dedication our ancestors showed to their craft and their livelihood. Visitors to Weiser State Forest can follow in the footsteps of the miners of old. By the end of the day, you will truly know what it feels like to “walk a mile in their shoes”.
For more information about the outdoor opportunities in our area, stop at the Visitors Bureau Welcome Center in Bloomsburg before venturing out, or check out a few of our other Outdoor Recreation pages! Don’t forget to grab a free copy of our Outdoor Recreation guide as well.
The Montour Preserve offers a wide range of year-round opportunities for free, family-friendly, outdoor activities. With a variety of fields, forests, and streams and features like the sugar shack, fossil pit, boat launch, fishing pier, wildlife observation blinds, visitors’ center/ environmental education center, pavilions, children’s play areas, more than seven miles of trails, and more, all centered around the Preserve’s signature feature – the 165-acre Lake Chillisquaque – the Montour Preserve offers something for everyone. Enjoy ice fishing, cross-country skiing, maple sugaring, birding, nature study, photography, fishing, boating, picnicking, hiking, trail running, fossil collecting, quiet reflection … the possibilities are nearly endless!
Fossil Pit: If you have the full day to spend at the Preserve, the fossil pit is a must visit. Recently named one of the top 30 fossil pits in North America, the Preserve’s fossil pit consists of approximately one acre of exposed Mahantango Formation shale. Formed some 395 million years ago during the Devonian Period when much of Pennsylvania was covered by a warm, shallow sea, these shales are particularly rich in fossils. The most commonly found fossils at the site are Pelecypods (oyster, mussel and clam-type species), Cephalopods, Brachiopods (lamp shells), Byrozoans (moss-like animals), Crinoids, Gastropods (snail-like creatures), Corals and Trilobites. The site is open from dawn to dark year-round. Admission is free and visitors may keep any fossils they find. Fossil pit visitors are encouraged to come prepared with some basic supplies, including: small geologist’s hammer, soft brush, safety goggles, a bag or bucket to carry fossils and supplies and newspaper or other material to wrap fossils for safekeeping.
In the Woods: Hunting
Looking to find that next trophy buck, track down your next wild turkey, or perhaps you’re hunting something else like bear, grouse, squirrel, or pheasant? Area hunting opportunities abound in State Gamelands, Forests, and Parks. Want to review important statewide hunting season dates and details? Visit the PA Game Commission’s hunting page.
And before you hunker down in the forest, visit Maple Ridge Sports Center, our area stop for your hunting needs!
Hunting Outfitter / Sports Shop:
Maple Ridge Sports Center – Orangeville
402 Main Street, Orangeville, PA 17859
With 33 years of experience, we strive to provide the best inventory and price in firearms, ammunition, and accessories. Specializing in firearm sales, firearms transfers, firearm raffles, special orders, and estate and consignment sales.