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Adventure, Travel / July 15, 2016

Two great NY waterfall hikes

Written by: Matt Minich

Ambitious people hike to the top of mountains. And we respect that. But at this stage of our lives, we’re more interested in the bottom of waterfalls.

So we’ve rounded up two of New York’s best waterfall hikes. Both offer stunning scenery, and neither will leave you gasping for breath.

Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls

Photo by Guillaume Cabron.

New York’s Buttermilk Falls State Park doesn’t just have an impossibly pleasant name. It’s also got a natural water feature so aesthetic it might have been plucked from a corporate office lobby.

Our favorite hike in Buttermilk Falls connects the park’s Rim Trail and George Trail for a 1.4-mile loop. This easy hike starts and ends at the swimming area at the base of the park’s eponymous falls. Check out a trail map for details.

If you go: Entry to Buttermilk Falls costs $7 per vehicle. Camping is available for an additional $15–19/night, depending on the site. Leashed dogs are allowed, but not in swimming areas. Owners may be asked to show proof of rabies inoculation.


The Catskills’ Kaaterskill Falls

Photo by Andy Arthur.

The 1-mile out-and-back hike to Kaaterskill Falls is probably the most popular hike in the Catskills, and it’s definitely the deadliest. Enough people have slipped near the top of the two-tier falls that the trail leading there has been officially closed.

But the 260-foot falls are plenty impressive from the bottom. The falls have touched visitors across generations—they were famously painted by Thomas Cole, and inspired a poem by William Cullen Bryant.

If you go: You can find the parking for Kaaterskill Falls here. It’s about a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from midtown Manhattan. There are no access fees, and leashed dogs are allowed.


about the author

Matt Minich

Matt Minich is Editorial Director for Shoulders of Giants. He has spent more than a decade writing, editing, and curating content about outdoor sports and adventure. As an adventure journalist he has climbed peaks in Patagonia, rappelled waterfalls in Colorado, B.A.S.E. jumped in Moab, and sampled fermented horse milk in Kyrgyzstan.

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