Kaaterskill Falls

Overview

This short but steep hike takes you to the base of one of the highest waterfalls in the Catskill Mountains.  The hike is best experienced during the summer months.

Details
Time:
1 hours
Difficulty:
Easy to Moderate
Length:
1 miles
Route Type:
Out and back
Dogs:
Allowed on leash
Features:
Waterfall
Location
Park:
Region:
County:
Greene
State:
NY
Maps/Books
Buy Trail Map:

Publication
First Published:
02/26/2015
Submitter:
Jeff Senterman
Trail Conference volunteers maintain trails in this park.
Trailhead GPS Coordinates
42.191201, -74.070565
Driving Directions

Heading northbound, take the New York State Thruway to Exit 20 (Saugerties). After paying the toll, turn left onto Routes 212/32 and cross over the Thruway. At the first traffic light, turn right onto Route 32 North (if you are heading southbound on the Thruway and take exit 20, you will exit directly on to Route 32 and take a right to follow Route 32 North). In 6.0 miles, continue straight ahead onto Route 32A, as Route 32 turns right. In 1.9 miles, turn left onto Route 23A, which climbs through Kaaterskill Clove. Just past a bridge over a stream at Bastion Falls, you'll notice the start of the Kaaterskill Falls Trail on the right. Continue ahead to the parking area for the falls, on the left side of the road.  Please note that the parking area is rather small and that parking is not allowed on Route 23A.  Walk back along the road to the start of the Kaaterskill Falls Trail.

Description

Please note, this trail is best experienced during the summer months. In the winter months, Kaaterskill Clove fills with snow and ice making the trip impossible without crampons and other winter climbing gear.

On the trail to the falls. Photo by Jeff Senterman.

Tucked away in one of the many cloves that cut through the eastern escarpment of the Catskill Mountains, Kaaterskill Falls is one of New York State's tallest waterfalls and one of the most spectacular sights in the Catskills. While a short hike, visitors should be well prepared with proper footwear and keep safety precautions in mind while visiting the area. Every year there are accidents causing injuries and, even deaths from careless hikers on the slippery rocks. You will see people in flip-flops, but don't be one of them.

This area is protected as "forever wild" Forest Preserve under the State's constitution. It is extremely popular, so be sure to carry out more than you carry in. You will not have difficulty to find evidence of its popularity. There is no dedicated pedestrian walkway from the parking lots to the trailhead, so be careful as you walk on this narrow, winding mountain road.

The Kaaterskill Falls Trail begins on Route 23A  from the bridge in front of Bastion Falls, a small waterfall adjacent to the road. If you brought your dog, it is best to leave it in your car, because of all the traffic and potential danger.

Even though you’ll see people walking in flip-flops and other less than stellar shoes for hiking, you should wear a pair of hiking boots or other sturdy walking shoes.  There are many slippery rocks, roots and other obstacles you’ll need to walk around or over.  Bring plenty of water with you, since while the trail is short, it is very steep and you'll need it to stay hydrated. The water in the stream is not safe to drink without purification.

The trail takes you the the base of the two-tiered falls and ends there. From this vantage point you look up and might be tempted to climb higher. Don't do it, since this is how accidents happen and injuries occur. Almost every year someone dies from going around the fence at the trail's end. Enjoy the view and return to your car the way you came.

Kaaterskill Falls. Photo by Jeff Senterman.

You can purchase a map and guide to the Kaaterskill Falls region for your smartphone or tablet through the PDFMaps app.


Caution – Anything beyond the end of the official trail is dangerous with steep slopes, loose rock, and large drops and in general, is an area where a mistake while hiking could have a very bad, if not fatal consequence.  Do not attempt to go beyond the end of the trail or around the fencing. Almost every year someone is seriously injured or dies from injuries sustained from accidents around the falls.