Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskill Mountains

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Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most iconic natural landmarks in New York. Located at the edge of the Catskills Mountains, this double-tiered waterfall has been a destination for locals and visitors alike for centuries. For generations, people visiting Kaaterskill Falls have enjoyed swimming in the clear depths beneath the cascades and taking scenic hikes along its many trails.

Kaaterskill Falls landscape.

Getting There

Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in New York State. Nestled in the Catskills Mountains, it is a natural wonder that attracts visitors from all over the world. The waterfall can be found within Kaaterskill Wild Forest in Greene County.

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First tier of Kaaterskill Falls.

The parking area to access the Laurel House Trailhead is located at the end of Laurel House Road. This the most popular access point for the main trail. To get to this trailhead, you’ll take Exit 20 off of Route 87. New York 32 to New York 32-A to Route 18. Then you’ll turn on to N Lake Rd and then on to Laurel House Road.

For those who prefer public transportation, Trailways Bus offers daily services between Albany and Hunter Mountain Ski Resort with stops at Tannersville where visitors can catch a taxi to the falls.

Kaaterskill Falls Trail

The falls trailhead is located at the parking lot on Laurel House Road. You can find information about the trails here. Various trails give visitors access to the falls. 

Trail signs.

Accessing The Falls from the Top

The gravel trail to the viewing platform is wide and great for families. From the viewing platform, the falls can be seen from the side. You get a great view of the waterfall dropping below and the surrounding mountains. The falls viewing platform can get crowded as this is a popular spot.

Posing on the viewing platform with Catskill Mountains in the background.

Next, you can head to the top of the falls. You’ll head back towards the parking lot, but instead of going back towards the lot, you’ll head right back towards the falls. You’ll find a fence, and you’ll walk past the fence to access the top of the falls. There’s a warning sign about the dangers of the area. If you have children, I would not recommend going to the top of the falls.

However, if you choose to visit the top of the falls, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views. You get to see Spruce Creek, which feeds the waterfall. You also get a great view of the surrounding mountains. If you’re feeling brave, you can look below to the pool the waterfall drops into below.

Standing at the top of Kaaterskill Falls.

Hiking to the Base of Kaaterskill Falls

Once you’ve enjoyed the falls from above, you can continue to hike to the base of the falls. It should be noted that the trail to the base is narrow, steep, and uneven. If you’re hiking in the winter, like I was, have spikes or crampons to ensure good traction. Otherwise, a good pair of hiking shoes or boots will do.

Stone steps on the trail to the lower falls.

As you make your way down to the base, you’ll be immersed in the beauty that is the Kaaterskill Wild Forest. You’ll also come across a lot of stone steps on the trail as you make your way down. When you get to the waterfall, the path will split.

The path on the right will take you to the first and main drop of the waterfall. This gives you access to be up close and personal with the waterfall. Fair warning, though, you might get wet!

First tier of Kaaterskill Falls.

If you head back to where the path splits, you can continue down the steps to the true base of the falls. From the bottom, you get a straight-on view of the full waterfall.

It’s not as cool as being right next to the fall, but the view is still breathtaking. It makes an excellent spot for pictures and a picnic.

Straight on view of the falls from the base.

As you hike back to the Laurel House parking area, be prepared to be winded. It’s a steep incline with almost 400 feet in elevation gain from the base to the lot.

Why Visit Kaaterskill Falls

Experience the beauty of one of the highest waterfalls in New York. This stunning waterfall drops an impressive 260 feet from the top of the falls to the bottom of the falls. It’s quite the natural wonder. There are various ways to see the falls.

If you’re looking to see the falls without a hike, you can view the waterfall from the viewing platform off of the main trail. But if you’re looking to truly experience Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills, you’ll want to make the hike to the base to get near the falls.


How long of a hike is Kaaterskill Falls?

It’s a short 1.6 mile hike to get from the parking area to the base of the waterfalls.

Is the Kaaterskills Falls hike easy?

While the hike might be a short 1.6 miles, it’s still a moderate hike due to the elevation gain of almost 400 feet from the base to the top of the falls. Additionally, the path down to the bottom of the falls is steep and rocky, so proper hiking shoes and equipment are recommended.

Can you see Kaaterskill Falls without hiking?

Yes! To view Kaaterskill Falls without a hike, take the main gravel path from the Laurel House Road parking area to the viewing platform. You’ll get a stunning view of the waterfall dropping into the pool below.

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