This past weekend my family and some friends went on a two day camping experience, and a waterfall hike in the Catskills, NY. It was an awesome weekend, one we’ll cherish for many years. The highlight was probably Kaaterskill Falls. This waterfall is phenomenal and actually the highest waterfall in the state of NY. It’s comprised of a two-stage waterfall of Kaaterskill Creek. The two falls total to a cascade of 260 feet (79 m) in height! This also makes it one of the tallest falls in all of Eastern U.S.
The waterfalls are one of America’s oldest tourist attractions and have been written about in many books, essays, poems and paintings of the early 19th century. For us, it became a mystical hike with our 4 and 5 year old girls seeking out fairies in the lingering fog and finding each and every stone turned into steps fascinating. They each found their perfect hiking sticks, and away we went in search of the perfect spot to spend some time enjoying this magical property. The hike itself sounds simple, it’s only .5 miles. I found it tricky, and here’s why. There are two parking lots, the first one you come upon is very close to the trail head, you cross the street and are practically there. Since this is a popular destination this lot fills quickly, we had do drive further down the mountain to a lower lot. The issue with this lot is you have to walk on the highway at points until you get to the trail head. It wasn’t long but who wants to be walk on a windy highway in the mountains with kids. So if you park in the lower lot like we did, just be very careful and know what you’re in for. (we’d still do it again, it was worth it).
As for the hike, .5 miles sounds simple…this hike is straight up! It was a lot of fun and there are plenty of stairs. There were a few points where I definitely held my daughter’s hand as there were steep drops on a narrow path. I also suffer from asthma and had to hit my inhaler midway up to keep up with the rest of my group who seemed to have endless energy…and lung capacity.
Once we got to the base of the large falls we found our spot where we stayed and enjoyed this magical place for about an hour. It’s gorgeous and has a wonderful vibe to it. Dogs are welcome too so it was fun seeing pups smiling as they explored the grounds. Our daughters played with rocks, studied the fog, built carins and took in the surroundings in every way we had hoped.
In total it took about 45 minutes to make the hike up the mountain with two little ones. And about 30 minutes to hike down. Both of the girls did the entire hike themselves. And I did too, lol. We had the dad’s walk down to retrieve the cars so we didn’t have to walk along the road again and pick us up. Next time we’d probably have them drop us off then park. This is definitely a hike worth seeking out. It’s about a 2 hour drive from NYC.
- Hike takes approximately 2 hours to hike up, enjoy the scenery then hike down. Can definitely be done faster.
- It’s a popular hike, expect crowds.
- It’s dog friendly.
- Definitely not stroller friendly.
- You need to be in physically good health, this is not a hike for someone with poor knees.
- Hike up with a light backpack with water and a snack, there are no vendors in the area.
- There are no bathrooms.
- Bring a camera, the views are awesome.
- Difficulty: 5 out of 10 (steep, rocky, short hike)
- For an easier hike 1.5 hours from NYC check out Bushkill Falls.