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Larissa Runkle | 02.25.2018

Embarking on a waterfall hike is one of the best ways to enjoy spring in the Northeast. As the snow-melt makes its way down the mountains, waterfalls are in their full glory, with stunning views and photo ops that often last well into early summer.

Particularly in upstate New York, there’s a never-ending list of waterfall hikes to check out. Here are some of our favorite falls in the area along with easy to moderate hiking options.

1. High Falls Conservation Area

This 47-acre plot of land is one of the best places in the Hudson Valley to get your waterfall fix. With two huge falls that once powered mills downstream, there’s an abundance of hiking trails to explore in this little corner of New York.

2. Rainbow Falls

This narrow canyon at the base of the Great Range in the Adirondack Mountains is a magical place to explore. With its unique micro-ecosystem and secluded beauty, it makes for a worthy destination any time of year.

3. Hope Falls

Nestled in the southern Adirondacks along Tenant Creek is the gorgeous and secluded Hope Falls, complete with a spacious swimming hole. This hike crosses private land, so be respectful of the owners when passing through.

4. Harper Falls

Hidden in the foothills of the northern Adirondacks lies a set of two-tiered falls, which can be tricky to find if you’ve never been. Once you get your bearings, a short forest hike will take you up past the first and second sections to breathtaking cascades.

5. Wilmington Notch Falls

Between Lake Placid and Wilmington lies a notch that’s been carved out by the west branch of Ausable River, and there are several notable waterfalls throughout. Everything about this area will charm first-timers, including the scenic drive along Route 86 that offers abundant hikes and spots for water access.

6. High Falls Gorge

Although it can be visited during any season, spring and fall are particularly magical times to visit the chute falls found at High Falls Gorge. This 22-acre privately owned park borders the Ausable River, which sits in a dense river canyon filled with a variety of richly-colored rock deposits including blue gray anorthosite, pink granite, and gray basalt.

7. Buttermilk Falls

Tucked in the state park bearing the same name, these falls can get a little busy, but they are worth the trip regardless. With only a short hike from the car you’ll find yourself at a rapidly-flowing cascade and several water access points for fishing or swimming.

8. Mossy Cascade

This set of falls in New York's Keene Valley sits firmly in a narrow gorge surrounded by bright green moss and downed trees. A relatively short hike will take you to the base of the falls, where you’ll enjoy a near-perfect solitude in this misty gorge.

9. Millbrook Falls

Situated on the Hague Brook in the town of Hague, New York, these 10- to 20-foot falls can be easily accessed after a short and relatively flat hike. Hikers should note that the trail follows the brook and the wet rocks along the path are likely to be slippery; sturdy shoes with good traction are recommended.

10. Rock Garden Falls

This unique and peaceful spot was named after its resemblance to a Japanese rock garden. Although not far from the road, these falls are easily missed. Once located, visitors can easily continue their adventure at Chapel Pond, a popular location for rock and ice climbing as well as swimming.


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