Our List of the Best Catskills Waterfall Hikes
8/6/20 UPDATE: Currently, several popular waterfalls and swimming areas are experiencing a high volume of visitors, leading to overcrowding. To combat the influx of illegal parking on Route 23A, the Town of Hunter will be towing all illegally parked vehicles at the owner's expense. This policy will remain in effect indefinitely. Scroll for details:
In order to avoid crowds, we suggest exploring less traveled trails. Each waterfall hike listed below has been given a label to indicate whether it is a crowded or uncrowded destination. Please maintain proper social distancing when visiting our trails and parks.
Exchange summit views for cascading rivers and streams when you explore Catskills waterfall hikes. Surrounded by lush forests, these scenes of natural splendor will take your breath away, and inspire a closer connection with nature and the region.
The town of Hunter has issued a new Kaaterskill Clove Parking Enforcement policy that goes into effect the weekend of August 8:
The Catskills region is a popular destination for people of all walks of life, but it holds a special place in the hearts of those that love the outdoors. Rugged mountains, bucolic fields, dense wild forests, and crystal-clear waterways create a natural playground that takes a lifetime to explore. Catskills hiking is perhaps the most popular form of recreation, enticing trail masters and family adventurers alike. While many of the region’s most popular routes end atop mountain peaks, there are also hiking trails that lead to waterfalls! From towering plumes that seem to shake the earth as the roar by to elegant veils of milky white water that float effortlessly over rocky cliffs, the waterfalls of the Catskills are sure to captivate you just as much as a summit view.
Whenever you are hiking near a waterfall, remember to use extreme caution. Spray can dampen nearby rocks and soil, creating slippery conditions. Never attempt to climb up the waterfalls themselves, as a fall could be life threatening.
Winding through the Platte Clove region, also known as Devil’s Kitchen, is Plattekill Creek, the source of several popular Catskills waterfalls. For an easy hike, start at Josh Road (at the top of Platte Clove Road) in Hunter. Park at the little red house and walk 100 feet south of the King Post Bridge to find Old Mill Falls. Named for an old mill that stood downstream from the falls in the 1800s, Old Mill Falls makes up for its short height with expansive width. At just 16 feet high, these falls are at their most stunning when water is high, pushing graceful veils over the entire span of the creek bed. Visit in spring or after heavy rain for the best views.
Shooting off a small opening at the top of a sheer cliff, Plattekill Falls is the picture perfect waterfall of your dreams. To find these falls, park on Josh Road by the little red house and hike approximately a quarter mile, following Plattekill Creek as it winds downstream past Old Mill Falls and through rich forested land. Cascading 70 feet before crashing back into the creek below, Plattekill Falls will take your breath away. The rock faces surrounding it are covered in moss and greenery, giving it an almost mystical appeal, and the stream bed it flows into provides ample opportunity for rock hopping. Bring the whole family and spend a day tucked away in a Catskill mountains paradise.
Hikers looking for a more intense adventure will love the four mile loop trail to Diamond Notch Falls, also known as West Kill Falls, via the trail at Diamond Notch Road in Lanesville. Walk along maintained trails through lush Catskills wilderness to this beautiful 10 foot waterfall. Enjoy the view from the bridge at the crest of the falls, or hike down to the shallow pool below. If you’re more concerned with the destination than the journey, access the falls via a .7 mile hike from the parking area on Spruceton Road.
When you visit Round Top, NY, you have hit the jackpot of waterfalls near New York City! Several Catskills waterfalls are located in the region – Glen Falls, and East Kill Falls. The first, Glen Falls, is the trifecta. Comprised of three unique waterfalls, two of which boast excellent swimming holes, there is no shortage of beauty to explore at Glen Falls. Parking is available at the Glen Falls House, and the staff at the front desk will be happy to direct you to the appropriate hiking trails.
If you’re feeling up to a full day on the trail, trek into East Kill Falls. This scenic 7.2 mile round trip trail starts at a parking lot at the end of Stork Nest Road off of Maple Lawn Road. At approximately .3 miles in, you will come across a DEC trail register. Don’t forget to sign in! While the trail doesn’t go all the way to the falls, it does come within 100 – 200 feet and, once you hear the stream, you can easily bushwhack to it. In addition to the falls, this trail is well-known for wildlife sightings.
Waterfall hikers looking for camping in upstate New York will find both attractions at North-South Lake Campground. Pitch your tent and then take a short hike down the Mary Glen Trail, located off the main campground road, to reach Ashley Falls. This multi-tiered waterfall flows over sharp, angular rocks creating a unique aesthetic. Though these falls can dry up in the peak of summer, they are perfect for a spring or fall adventure. If you don’t plan to stay the night, just stop by the campground entrance for a day pass.
This waterfall is currently overcrowded. There is little to no parking and cars are being towed for illegal parking. Please consider alternative options.
Joining Bastion Falls and Kaaterskill Falls in the Haines Falls region is the 24-foot Fawns Leap waterfall, a beautiful section of the Kaaterskill Creek that has also been the subject of paintings and photographs for over a century. Just off route 23A, these falls double as a popular swimming hole in warm summer months. A deep pool lies at the base of the milky white cascade, nestled within a rocky ravine carved out by the falls themselves, and it’s just big enough for a refreshing dip.
Kaaterskill falls is currently closed to the public. Additionally, there is little to no parking on Route 23A and cars are being towed for illegal parking. Please consider alternative options.
The highest cascading waterfall in New York State, Kaaterskill Falls drops 260 feet in two tiers. Its beauty, size, and sheer force has captivated locals and visitors for centuries. For poets, painters, and photographers, it has been an inspiration and a muse. For outdoor adventurers, it is considered one of the region’s best waterfall hikes. Experience both points of view by combining a visit to Kaaterskill Falls with a tour of local art galleries when you stay at one of the luxury resorts in the Catskills.
Embrace the wild spirit of the Catskills by hiking to a remote waterfall. Feel the incredible rush of adrenaline brought on by the thunder of cascading falls and find balance in the serenity of nature. Whether you venture in alone or with friends and family, a waterfall hike in the Catskills is more than a day on the trail – it’s a Greatest-Of-All-Time adventure.
Love waterfalls and want to stay? Rent the Waterfall House in Palenville for the ultimate Catskills experience. Their pet-friendly vacation homes offer swimming onsite and fireplaces for the perfect mountain ambiance.