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Kaaterskill Falls

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.

Considered by Native Americans to be the resting place of the creator, a sacred place for the Mohican people who called the Catskills home, Kaaterskill Falls has captivated the hearts, pens, and paintbrushes of poets, painters, filmmakers, and photographers – becoming part of larger, artistic folklore spreading from the Catskills to the rest of the world. In one of his most celebrated paintings Thomas Cole, founder of the famed Hudson River School of Art, placed a lone warrior watching over the falls, a testament to the wild beauty of the place. 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.

How Long Is It to Hike to Kaaterskill Falls?

Experience your own spiritual awakening at the falls, located off of County Route 18 in Haines Falls. The hike to Kaaterskill Falls is short at 1.4 miles roundtrip, and hikers are strongly encouraged to stick to the marked path due to the treacherously slippery rocks located at the top of the 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 waterfall as, over the years, unwary hikers have forged separate paths from the main, DEC-blazed trail. By following some simple safety tips, you and your group can enjoy the stunning beauty of the falls without the risk of injury.

Tips for Hiking at Kaaterskill Falls

  • Parking is available at the Mountain Top Historical Society or North South Lake State Campground (follow signage on county route 18). Take the Kaaterskill Trolley - a convenient way to access the falls for a minimal fee of $10.00.
  • 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 the chances of getting lost or injured.
  • Do not climb on the rocks under or around the waterfall. Injuries are common in 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!

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.

Looking for More Hiking Opportunities?

Greene County is home to some of the best Catskills hiking trails in the region and offers opportunities for all ages and skill levels to get out and explore. Whether you are looking for a multi-day backpacking trip or a quick jaunt with the family to a nearby overlook, the Great Northern Catskills is a hiking paradise.

Important Information

  • Parking is prohibited along State Route 23A in the Kaaterskill Clove from Palenville through Haines Falls.

  • Parking enforcement will be in effect, and illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed and towed.
  • To access major scenic attractions such as Kaaterskill Falls and other areas within the Clove, visitors can use the Kaaterskill Trolley Co., which will have multiple stops in Tannersville, Haines Falls, Palenville, and throughout the Clove.
  • Visitors are also encouraged to park in the Village of Tannersville, where there is abundant parking, and ride the trolley to their destination.
  • Alternatively, visitors can access Kaaterskill Falls via North/South Lake Campground, the Kaaterskill Rail Trail via the Mountain Top Historical Society, and other access points near North Lake Road. These trail access points feature parking and offer an alternative route to reach Kaaterskill Falls and the many scenic trails in the area.

Looking for More?

We have compiled a list of the best waterfall hikes in the Catskills! Whether you are looking for instant gratification or a day hike with a spectacular ending, we have a list of the must-see waterfalls throughout the region.