11 Best Waterfall Hikes In New York

waterfall hikes in new york
| 4 min read

The state of New York is blessed with a plethora of breathtaking natural spots—waterfalls being one of them. They provide excellent hiking destinations to city dwellers and visitors who are tired of seeing skyscrapers and breathing polluted city air. Waterfalls are where you head to when you want a gasp of crisp fresh air—and to immerse yourself in beautiful nature away from the hustle of busy New York. However, with so many waterfalls around, it may be confusing to know exactly where to head to for the best experiences. Scroll down to learn about some of the best waterfall hikes in New York.

Travel Advisory

Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.

1. Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal flame falls 7252
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Mpmajewski used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The first on the list of the best waterfall hikes in New York is Eternal Flames Falls. The falls is found within Shale Creek Preserve, and it is a hike that will take you about two hours for a round-trip. The difficulty is moderate, though there are occasions when the trail becomes slippery due to weather. During such times, it may take you slightly longer than normal. Apart from the unusual sights and sounds along the trail, you will also be treated to spectacular views of a perpetually burning flame—from the escaping methane gas from a natural shale grotto.

Eternal Flame Falls

Address: Eternal Flame Hiking Trail, Orchard Park, NY

Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)

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2. Vernooy Falls

Vernooy Kill Falls
Source: Photo by user Auslandsoesterrei... used under CC BY 2.0

Vernooy Falls is in Ulster County in Soundown Wild Forest. The falls comprises of a series of astonishing little pools with a drop of 30 feet (9.11 meters) within four stages. It is one of the most picturesque falls you will ever come across in the state of New York. Given that it is also at the location of a 200-year-old mill—Vernooy Mill—there is more offered on this hike than the mere sounds and sights of nature. It is a moderate trail of about 3.6 miles (5.8 km) long and with an elevation of about 250 feet (76.2 meters).

Vernooy Falls

Address: Kerhonkson, NY

Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)

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3. Salmon Rivers Falls

Spirit Falls Trail on Little White Salmon River in WA
Source: Photo by user Jeff Hollett used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Salmon River Falls is in Orwell in Oswego County, and it is another great destination if you are looking for a thrilling waterfall hiking experience within the state of New York. It is considered an easy trail, with wheelchair-accessible paths that terminate at the peak at an altitude of about 1,100 feet (335 m). If this seems too easy for your liking, several other trails within the park have between moderate to difficult terrains—and will still treat you to spectacular natural views and the soothing sounds of nature during the hike.

Salmon Rivers Falls

Address: Orwell, NY

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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New York Tour Guide

Annie Leguennec

Annie Leguennec

My name is Annie. I am a local Tour guide based in Philadelphia enjoying fully what the city has to offer with its deep history, street arts, murals, architecture, traditional food, black history, Farmer Markets, green space, a melting pot of neighborhoods and its great locals. I am looking for to welcome you and show you this incredible city where you will gain a better understanding of the city's rich heritage and its continuing legacy as the birthplace of the United States of America. Book my tour. Explore and learn about this unique city where you will walk on the footsteps of our America's founding Fathers. My tours are conducted in English, French and Italian.

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4. High Falls Gorge

Kodak Tower From High Falls Gorge
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Larry used under CC BY-SA 3.0

High Falls Gorge sits in a privately owned park. It is easily accessible through a family-friendly trail that culminates with breathtaking views of the four waterfalls and plenty of other beautiful sceneries. If you have some energy to spare after reaching the falls, you can go for another extra mile of a difficult trail to reach the park, but this is recommended only if you have planned activities within the park.

High Falls Gorge

Address: 4761 NY-86, Wilmington, NY

Website: High Falls Gorge

Opening hours: Fri - Tue: 9am - 4pm (closed on Wed - Thu)

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5. Letchworth State Park

Upper Waterfall, Letchworth State Park
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user S.MacMillen used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

This state park is also known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and this is for a very good reason. It is home to a 60-mile (96 km) hiking trail, which terminates at the three major waterfalls within the area. Hiking this trail, you will encounter some of the most stunning sceneries you will ever come across in a state park, and when you get to Inspiration Point, you will behold the most beautiful views of Upstate New York.

Letchworth State Park

Address: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY

Website: Letchworth State Park

Opening hours: 6am - 11pm (daily)

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6. Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park

Glen of Pools, Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user XeresNelro used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park is perhaps one of the most beautiful 2-mile (3.2 km) waterfall hikes you will ever take in your life. Within the hike, you will come across 19 breathtaking waterfalls, and you will also have a chance to crawl and even walk behind some of them. Along the way, you will experience a change of about 400 feet (121 m) in altitude, climbing more than 800 stone steps. The trail is generally moderate, though there are certain sections where it may become narrow, leading to overcrowding due to human traffic.

Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park

Address: 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY

Website: Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park

Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)

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7. OK Slip Falls

OK Slip Falls upstate
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Streamsflow used under CC BY-SA 4.0

This is one of the tallest falls within the Adirondacks region and the state of New York. It used to be in a privately owned parcel of land until 2013 when it became a public area. It features a 3-mile (4.8 km) trail, with both moderate and difficult sections going up and down a few small hills.

OK Slip Falls

Address: NY-28, Indian Lake, NY

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

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8. Pratt’s Falls

Pratts falls
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Doug Kerr used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Pratt’s Falls is in Manlius, and all you need is a short hike to hit the peak. The fall boasts a height of 130 feet (40 meters), and the trail features a simple and easy-to-navigate half-mile walk. A few sections of the trail have steps that might make it a bit challenging for some people, though the trek to the falls is extremely refreshing with serenading sounds and sights of nature.

Pratt's Falls

Address: 7671 Pratts Falls Rd, Manlius, NY

Opening hours: 6am - 6pm (daily)

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9. Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca NY 2715
Source: Photo by user bobistraveling used under CC BY 2.0

Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca is one of the most beautiful falls in New York. It is located right at the heart of Buttermilk Falls State Park. There is a variety of picturesque trails with several other waterfalls before you reach Buttermilk Falls. The terrain is moderate, and vehicles are also allowed in some sections. Since the park is open all year round, you are free to pop in any day you need a break from hectic city life.

Buttermilk Falls

Address: 106 E Buttermilk Falls Rd, Ithaca, NY

Website: Buttermilk Falls

Opening hours: 8am - 7:30pm (daily)

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10. Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls (25376826369)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user See1,Do1,Teach1 used under CC BY 2.0

Taughannock Falls is a 215-foot (65 m) waterfalls that drop gently into a beautiful gorge within the state park. If you have been to the Niagara Falls, you will be surprised to learn that this natural wonder is three stories taller than Niagara Falls, and it also holds the record of having the highest single drop in the east of the Rocky Mountains. These attributes make the waterfalls a star attraction in the state park, and if you have time to hike just one spot in New York, you will not be disappointed if you choose Taughannock Falls.

Taughannock Falls

Address: 2381 Taughannock Park Rd, Trumansburg, NY

Website: Taughannock Falls

Opening hours: 7am - 6pm (daily)

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Take a break from New York's busy streets

Spend some time away from the busy streets of New York by reconnecting with nature without taking a trip to the jungles of South America. Consider any of these best waterfall hikes in New York for a refreshing break from hectic city life. You will be surprised how these gems have been sitting so close to you all along.

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Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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