Who would’ve known that something as beautiful as the Kaaterskill Falls would be only 3 hours from New York City?! While there are many incredible waterfalls in New York state, the astonishing beauty and size simply cannot be compared.
The Catskill mountains offer hidden waterfalls, water holes, campgrounds, and beautiful hikes. Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most beautiful sights in the eastern Catskills, right next to Hunter Mountain. They are a two-stage waterfall on Spruce Creek, totaling 260 feet in height. This waterfall has become a popular destination for hikers due to its beauty, accessibility, and watering holes. Before planning your trip, be sure to check out some of our most requested tips!
The Parking May Be Tough, So Get There Early
Parking is a bit of a nightmare. We get it, New York is a crowded state, especially closer to the city. Unfortunately, popular destinations in the Catskills are no different! We’d recommend getting to the falls early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid too many people.
There are currently 2 ways to access the Kaaterskill Falls. You can either park in the upper or bottom lots. The upper parking lot was completed back in 2016 and eliminates the need to walk along a sketchy section of the road. I’ve made this walk in both the winter and summer and it felt a bit dangerous on both occasions. In addition, the upper trailhead is wheelchair accessible.
Upper Parking Lot: The parking lot located toward the top of the waterfall and is at the end of Laurel House Road near Haines Falls in Greene County, New York. This lot is much larger than the alternative at the bottom of the falls. (Coordinates: 42.195743, -74.063024)
Lower Parking Lot: I’ll be the first one to admit that the hike from this parking lot is a bit more sketchy. You have to walk along the Route 24A for .25 miles until you reach the Katerskill Falls Trail. Extreme caution should be taken as there is no sidewalk on the side of the roadway. This lot does get crowded during peak hours and seasons. (Coordinates: 42.189907, -74.074039)
Not Much Of A Hiker? Don’t Worry, Kaaterskill Falls Is A Breeze!
Kaaterskill Falls offers two different access points which only differ slightly in what they offer.
Upper Trailhead: From the parking area, the upper trailhead is an easy 0.3 mile “walk” to the upper viewing platform. The trail is clearly marked, flat, and wide. The upper viewing area provides breathtaking views of Kaaterskill Falls, as well as the Catskill scenery. If you’re not quite satisfied ending your hike there, we’d highly recommend making your way down to the bottom of the falls. Depending on your personal fitness levels, this may be considered a moderate hike due to the 300ft. elevation gain and uneven terrain.
Lower Trailhead: The hike from the parking lot of the lower trailhead is about 2 miles there and back (roughly an hour and a half hike). The terrain is steep and rocky. But, overall, it’s not bad and the views are worth it! In addition, the lower trailhead starts your hike with a beautiful look at the Bastion Falls.
There are three areas where you can stop and view the falls (unless you choose to go off trail, which we wouldn’t suggest). These stops include the lower waterfall, upper waterfall, and top of the waterfalls. We hung out the longest at the second waterfall viewing point. You can’t help but relax and enjoy the view.
Best Time & Season to Visit Kaaterskill Falls
You can visit Kaaterskill Falls at any point of the year, but we’d suggest going during spring or summer. These seasons may be busy, but the scenery is just way too beautiful to pass up. To help avoid some of the crowds at these more popular spots in the Catskills, it’s recommended to go as early as possible.
We have also done this hike during the winter, which was absolutely stunning. The snow and ice surrounding the waterfall look like something out of a storybook. While it is a worthwhile hike, you will need to come prepared. It’s recommended to bring snow / ice cleats as some sections of the trail get very icy and slippery. We personally love the Crampons Ice Cleats Traction Snow Grips for Boots Shoes by Climkiz.
What You Should Bring During Your Hike
1. Water: As with any hike, be sure to pack enough water for yourself and any pets. Summers can get very hot in the Catskills, so it’s important to remain hydrated
2. Hiking Boots or Snow/Ice Cleats: You’ll be fine with some comfortable hiking boots or sneakers if you visiting the falls during spring, summer, or fall. However, if you’re visiting in the winter or when there’s snow on the ground, it’s highly advised to invest in some Climkiz Crampon snow / ice cleats.
3. Lightweight Food: During longer hikes, we like bringing a little something to get us through the 2nd half of the hike.
4. Trash Bags: Unfortunately, large crowds bring in large amounts of trash. Do your part and abide by the “Leave No Trace” principle. When leaving any hiking or camping spot, you should try leaving it better than you found it!
5. Bathing Suit: Who would’ve known that there would be so many swimming holes in New York! What could possibly get better than a waterfall, anyway? A lot of people swim at the upper waterfall area at Kaaterskill Falls. It’s a great place to splash some water on yourself and cool off after a long hike.
A Word Of Caution: The water is COLD! And, the rocks are SLIPPERY! Make sure you’re careful if you are choosing to risk swimming in the water, as it’s not always suggested. We love our readers alive…and still hungry for more adventure!