Thanks to a conflict with work commitments, I had to scrap a planned trip to Lehigh Gorge over the Labor Day holiday. In my search for day hikes I could take instead I came across Ralph Stover State Park and its High Rocks Vista.
Ralph Stover is located north of Philadelphia, along Tohickon Creek before it flows into the Delaware River. The park has an interesting history. The main part of the park, along the creek, was opened in the 1930s. The High Rocks area, consisting of the vista, was added later thanks to a gift from novelist James A. Michener, a native of the area. Michener found himself a very wealthy man thanks to the success of his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, and his one percent share of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, based on his book. Being charitable and having the money to do good things led him to purchase the land and donate it to the park system in 1954.
Parking for the vista is across a gravel road from the trailhead. The trail itself branches in two, with a flatter option following the road and the typical up and down running along the black metal fence at the edge of the cliffs. The Tohickon Gorge itself is over two hundred feet deep, and the sheer rock walls are favorites for rock climbers. The trailhead has the usual warning about death and injury if you aren’t careful, and this was reinforced for me by a trailside memorial at the first overlook.
I hiked a bit more than a mile. It was late in the day when I arrived at Ralph Stover, and I was still feeling ill from the flu earlier in the week, so prolonged exertion wasn’t in my plans. The hike along the cliffs wasn’t difficult although I did choose my footing carefully. Had I arrived earlier in the day I might have seen rock climbers, since the park was giving classes that morning. I saw a couple of people at the first overlook but aside from that I had the trail to myself. I continued on the trail past the metal fences, which meant I passed from Ralph Stover to the adjoining Tohickon Valley Park, owned by Bucks County. Using the trails in the county park its possible to hike down to the creek, but I didn’t have the time or desire this evening. But I had enough joy staying atop the cliffs, looking down.