Kaaterskill Falls
GOOD FOR: Ages 9-12

Source:Outdoors with Kids New York City (AMC Books)
Address:NY Route 23A, Hunter, NY
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Bathrooms: None
Water/Snacks: None

USGS Kaaterskill Clove

This easy hike leads to a waterfall that was once the most popular tourist destination in the United States.

Kaaterskill Falls
Photo by: Cheryl and William de Jong-Lambert

The Catskill Forest Preserve has long fueled a passion for wilderness travel. Today the Catskills endure as a premier and pristine place to hike, camp, snowshoe, cross-country ski, and, of course, swim, fish, and paddle on stunning lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Among the most famous hikes in the area is the trek up to Kaaterskill Falls. The cascade is the highest in New York State and in the late 1800s was the most-visited tourist destination in the United States. As you and your children stare up to the point where the water flows over the ridge and pours into the pool below, you will have no problem imagining how this object of natural wonder inspired legions of poets, artists, and writers.

Though the falls are past their heyday as a tourist draw, the path leading up and down remains busy. From the parking lot, cross NY 23A, climb behind the guardrail, and backtrack to the trailhead, which is marked by a large sign. This hike is not stroller friendly, but on the trail we saw two families with babies in packs.

The half-mile trail is steep but clear and well maintained. You’ll climb over large boulders, hopscotch across flat stones, and walk up a few sets of log steps. The end of the hike, at the base of the two-tiered falls, is clearly marked. This is an excellent site for a picnic. Remember: Going from the parking lot to the start of the trail requires walking along a winding, busy road. Use caution.

Plan B:

Visit North-South Lake (Trip 90) to swim, rent canoes or kayaks, or camp.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Head to Haines Falls along NY 23A for restaurants, a general store, and seasonal produce markets.


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