RICKETTS GLEN STATE PARK — State parks throughout our area will be packed this holiday weekend but at one of them, this unofficial ending to summer is also a farewell, for now, to a popular swimming area and lake at Ricketts Glen.
We told you this week the lake there will be drained next year and while it will be missed, the park insists there will still be reasons to visit.
It may not have been busy on a cool Friday afternoon but the beach at Ricketts Glen State Park is expected to be jammed this Labor Day weekend, likely the last big crowds at this spot along the Luzerne/Sullivan County line for a while.
Next year, there will be no water in Lake Jean.
“We actually come here over the ocean because the kids are able to play out in the lake and not get hit by a wave or anything. They make friends down here and have fun,” said Adam Williams of Oaks.
Williams and his family come to the beach all the time in the summer, but he’s heard the news that next summer the park is repairing a tower at the dam and draining the lake.
“We all enjoy the lake. Hopefully they can fix it quickly, get it back next year some time and we’ll be back here in a year or two.”
Kerriann Hayden from the Philadelphia area and her family have done a camping vacation here twice a year for 13 years, but with no water, that will likely change next summer.
“Without the water, it kind of leaves us limited with the kids,” Hayden said. “We’ll still come up; we’ll probably not make it two weeks. We’ll probably only come up for a week because we like to hike and we like nature.”
While the lake won’t have water next year, the dozens of waterfalls here will, and this popular attraction is still expected to draw crowds.
“It’s a treasure in our own backyard. I really don’t see it being a drastic impact,” said concession stand worker Patty Record.
Patty Record works at the concession stand. It is staying open next year, even though it will overlook an empty lake
It plans to cater more to those using the campground — creating more of a camp store — and of course the falls trail hikers.
“It will definitely have some impact as far as swimmers, but as far as hikers, and campers and just sightseers looking at what’s going on, I think there will be a lot of people.”
The state says Lake Jean will be drained when the ice thaws next spring.
Before the lake is drained, the state has lifted all limits and rules for fishing, allowing anglers to keep everything they catch.
The hope is to have the dam repairs done next year and the lake full again in 2016.