Our recent trip to see the amazing fluorescent rocks at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum got me thinking about another super unique geological phenomenon just a couple hours from NYC. Around this time last fall, my husband and I decided to take a day trip to Bucks County, PA. We had been several times before, and we always enjoy visiting some of our favorite regular spots in New Hope, Lambertville, and Frenchtown. But for this particular trip, we wanted to try out something new so I asked a friend for recommendations, and she suggested visiting Ringing Rocks Park.
She said that when you strike the rocks with a hammer, rather than making the dull, muted sound you would expect, many of the rocks will instead make a tinnier, high-pitched ringing sound. I was a bit skeptical, but this sounded like something that would be right up our alley, so, of course, we decided to go check it out!
We arrived at a parking lot full of cars, and it was clear that the secret was out on this place. Lots of people were definitely there to do some hiking, and several others were having picnics and hanging out on the tailgates of their pickup trucks. It wasn’t immediately clear where the trail to the rocks started, but we followed some other folks who looked like they knew where they were going and headed off into the woods. And just a few minutes later, we found ourselves in the boulder field. All seven acres of it, with rocks piled upon rocks upon even more rocks!
The field itself is really cool, and it was worth visiting the park just to see it! Some of the rocks are massive, and you should be prepared to do a fair amount of climbing up and down the rocks. There isn’t really a central path or trail of any sort to walk into the middle of the boulder field–you just have to walk right up onto the rocks to get in there.
I’d suggest wearing hiking boots to give your ankles some more stability, and I would definitely test the wobbliness of any rock you’re about to step on. Some are firmly stuck in place, but others are unbalanced and wiggle back and forth when you step on them. Ultimately, if you end up falling, you’re going to fall on a giant pile of large rocks, which will likely be unpleasant, so trust me on this tip. But once you make your way in, get your hammer ready!
Now, don’t get worried if the first few rocks you strike don’t ring out. Not all of the rocks actually ring, so you may have to try hitting several before you find yourself a winner. We got a little discouraged at first, but we could hear other people finding the lucky rocks in other parts of the boulder field so we at least knew they were in there somewhere. And eventually…we found our first ringing rock!
Interestingly, the rocks immediately next to it made no ringing sound at all which only added to our confusion. What makes some of these rocks ring and not others, you ask??? I don’t know. And it seems like there is no definitive scientific reason either. Some say it has something to do with freeze-thaw patterns, others say it has to do with the iron content in the rocks, some say they won’t ring if you remove them from their fellow rocks in the fields, and some also say that, in fact, all of the rocks ring, but some ring at a lower frequency that humans just can’t hear. Perhaps even odder is the fact that these are apparently volcanic rocks, and scientists aren’t entirely sure how they even got here in the first place let alone exactly why they ring. Regardless, the ringing rocks are really cool!
And in case the boulder field isn’t quite enough fun for you, continue your way down the trail further into the woods and you’ll be treated to a lovely stream and waterfall. Or…if it’s as dry when you visit as it was when we were there…a lovely rock overhang with a teeny tiny trickle coming over the side. But if there is no water spilling over, you’ll be able to stand on the top and enjoy a delightful view. On a beautiful day, with the fall foliage starting to come into color, it makes for a charming little hike.
Ringing Rocks County Park is about 2 hours away from NYC, making it the perfect destination for a fun and unique fall road trip. Any drive through Bucks County is also just generally gorgeous, so there is no reason not to add Ringing Rocks Park to your to-visit list! Check out the info below to plan your own visit.
Have you already been to Ringing Rocks Park yourself? What did you think? Pretty cool, right?!?!
Plan Your Own Visit
Where to Go
- Ringing Rocks Park, Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, 18972, United States
- There’s a decent-sized parking lot. Despite there being a lot of people there when we visited, there were still plenty of spaces left.
- It wasn’t clear where the trail was, but it’s basically the only trail off the lot. Worst case scenario, listen for ringing and walk that way!
When to Go
- Fall foliage would really add to this trip so I would recommend October/November for your visit.
- The waterfall was nearly bone dry when we were there. If you want to see it in action, visit after a heavy rain or sometime in the spring when the snowmelt gets a nice flow going.
Tips for Visiting
- There are no restroom facilities available other than port-o-potties, so bring some tissue and hand sanitizer just in case their supplies are running low.
- There are a few picnic tables if you want to enjoy a snack or lunch during your visit.
- Definitely wear supportive boots with decent non-slip tread so you can easily (and safely!) get around on the rocks.
- Don’t forget your hammer!