The Great Northern Catskills of Greene County are home to many treasures – from the stunning natural beauty of the landscape, to the rich literary and artistic heritage immortalized by Thomas Cole and Washington Irving. Perhaps the crowning jewel is the highest cascading waterfall in New York State – Kaaterskill Falls. Dropping in two tiers over 260 feet, Kaaterskill Falls has been one of the region's most popular destinations for centuries.
Kaaterskill Falls has captivated the hearts, pens and paintbrushes of poets, painters, film makers and photographers – becoming part of a larger,artistic folklore spreading from the Catskills to the rest of the world. From Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, to Asher Durand's Kindred Spirits and William Cullen Bryant's romantic verse – all have felt the mesmerizing power of Kaaterskill Falls. Climb high enough to view the Hudson River Valley as it snakes below, and delight in the stunning beauty of one of New York's most majestic natural wonders – just one of the many Catskills outdoor activities to enjoy.
Hikers should exercise caution when hiking to the falls as, over the years, unwary hikers have forged separate paths from the main, DEC-blazed trail. By following some simply safety tips, you and your group can enjoy the stunning beauty of the falls without the risk of injury.
Safety Tips for Hiking at Kaaterskill Falls
- Only follow the marked trail signs. You may see other trails veering off into the forest or away from the main trail, but, for your own safety, do not follow these. Taking shortcuts can lead to erosion on trails, and greatly increase chances of getting lost or injured.
- Do not climb on the rocks under or around the waterfall. Injuries are common on areas where the rock or ground is slick.
- Wear sturdy shoes for hikes. Do not wear sandals, flip flops or have bare feet. Although you are hiking around water, we highly discourage swimming.
- Bring water and snacks.
- If you carry it in, carry it out. There is a $250 fine for littering in the Catskills.
- No glass allowed.
- Do not light a campfire.
- Most importantly – have fun and enjoy our beautiful wilderness!
The Kaaterskill Falls hiking trail is accessed via I-87 Exit 21. Located on Rt. 23A west of Palenville, you will find the trailhead about three miles west of the village. From a small parking area on the south side of Route 23A, the moderate, 1.4 miles round-trip trek winds up a well-traveled path offering views of nearby Bastian Falls.
An alternate Catskills hiking route leads to the top of the falls from Laurel House Lane via North Lake Road along Route 23A. New York State trail markers designate the Kaaterskill Falls as part of the Forest Preserve protected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Take precautions along the path as erosion and water can create slick conditions. As a general rule, use common sense and be aware of the loose rocks, dirt and water-slick stones.
For the NY NJ trails conference map of Kaaterskill Falls and the North South Lake area click here