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Safety is huge priority for Ricketts Glen State Park rangers

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Kids sit around a waterfall at Ricketts Glen State Park.

With beautiful temperatures and sunny skies throughout the summer, it’s likely that many in the area will go out hiking trails, visiting state parks and enjoying the scenery. And while the views are always excellent and scenic, there does come a risk on the trails.

Just ask Mickey Maneval, the DCNR Ranger at Ricketts Glen State Park, which sits on 13,193 aces in Columbia, Luzerne and Sullivan counties.

“The trail is a more difficult trail. It’s a 1,000-foot elevation difference from the bottom to the top of the trail. With that said, there’s a lot of variation in the steps,” Maneval told The Sun-Gazette during a video shoot at the park. “Some got quite a height to them, some are kind of shallow. That makes it more difficult. Plus, there’s a lot of rockets, lot of roots, sometimes it can be pretty muddy depending on the weather. … We do have some water that runs across the trail in certain places, especially when it rains a lot.”

Ricketts Glen State Park is a single-track trail, which means it’s not very wide. Due to this, it can be a bit more narrow than other trails people may hike.

“The reason being is because of the tight areas its got to come up through some of those falls,” Maneval said. “You want to make sure you’re keeping track and staying tight to the upper side of the trail. Be mindful that you could trip or slip.”

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Mickey Maneval, DCNR Ranger at Ricketts Glen State Park, points to a map of the trails.

It’s far from uncommon for Maneval and the rangers to have to make rescues in the park. According to Maneval, they do approximately 24-30 rescues per year. There’s a ranger on duty from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m., sometimes midnight, according to Maneval, plus a manager who lives within the park and is on call constantly.

“We have to go in and assess what it is and how bad they’re hurt (and) whether we need a rope team to come in and help get them out,” Maneval said. “How much man power do we need to help carry them out depending if we’re coming uphill or continue downhill (is a factor).”

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an upsurge in visitors to the park in 2020 as Maneval estimates Ricketts Glen State Park saw more than half a million visitors.

The views can be quite beautiful throughout the park, but Maneval mentioned that visitors should observe all the rules in the park, both for their own safety and to help preserve the park.

“The main thing is to stay on the trail. They’ll leave the trail and enter the water. You can go to the water’s edge to take photos, but we recommend not going into the water at all. Those rocks can get slippery and you can fall and hurt themselves,” Maneval said. “This is a Glen National Area, so we want to follow the rules as far as the natural area. You don’t enter the water, you don’t wade, you don’t climb the rockets, you don’t climb the falls. No fires, no fishing, no camping.”

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Ricketts Glen State Park DCNR Ranger Mickey Maneval drives along a trail at the state park.

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