The 10 Best Waterfalls in New York State (Secret Ones Too)

One of the things I love finding on my nature trips is waterfalls, and being that New York State is where I live, I’ve accumulated a list of 10 of the best ones I recommend you see.

Now when people think of waterfalls in New York, they usually think of popular spots like Niagara Falls and frankly, I’m not the sort of person who will tell you to see places everyone else will. The following list I’m going to give you are from places not many people know about, including secret waterfalls.

I like sharing the unknown gems that New York State has to offer, whether it be:

So when it comes to waterfalls, I have the same standards and after exploring this place for so many years, I still find that there’s plenty of unknown gems I have yet to explore.

But I promise you, the list of the 10 waterfalls I’ll be showing you will likely amaze you and I can also tell you other blogs on this subject won’t tell you about them (at least all 10). So let’s get to them.

Here is the list of the top best waterfalls in New York State:

10 best waterfalls in new york state

  1. Ithaca Falls.
  2. Minekill Falls
  3. Middle Falls.
  4. Awosting Falls.
  5. Hector Falls.
  6. Taughannock Falls.
  7. Kaaterskill Falls.
  8. Secret Waterfall in the Catskills.
  9. Croton Dam Waterfall.
  10. Rainbow Falls (Watkins Glen).

That’s the list that corresponds to the image you see on the right. But despite that, it’s not the order of what I consider to be the top 10.

These 10 waterfalls are about to listed in the order I subjectively find best. So of course in your case, if you wish to mix up the order, by all means!

10) Middle Falls:

middle falls new york

Where is it? It’s in Letchworth State Park about 60 miles east of Buffalo, New York.

How high/tall is it? It’s over 100 feet high (the main falls). There is also another one further uphill from it that is under 100 feet but is also very beautiful.

Description of the falls: Middle Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the entire state you’ll see that is accessible to the public.

Not only is the fall itself worth exploring, but you can also explore many places near it, including bridges and many scenic views (especially behind it, just like in the picture above).

Middle Falls is located pretty close to Niagara Falls so if you have time or are doing a road trip and need ideas, checking that waterfall out too is highly recommended!

9) Ithaca Falls:

ithaca falls new york

Where is it? Near a city called Itchica, which is also in New York (About 100 east of Middle Falls, Letchworth State Park).

How high/tall is it? 150 feet high.

Description of the falls: Itchica is close to Finger Lakes which itself has so many nature jewels to offer, it’s crazy, but specifically the waterfall here is huge, and there are nature trails leading to the top and bottom of it.

To be honest, both Middle Falls and Ithaca Falls are 2 places out of this list I haven’t yet explored because I didn’t have time.

But I assure you, the reviews, views and adventures available in these spots are insane.

These 2 waterfalls are some of the biggest you’ll find in New York State.

8) Rainbow Falls:

rainbow falls new york

Where is it? At a place called Wakins Glen State Park.

How tall is it? It’s actually very small but the scenery in this area is what sells the spot in the first place.

I mean do I even have to say it?

Description: Imagine walking through a beautiful nature gorge with caves, waterfalls, and scenery that makes you think you’re in a fairy tale.

This is the kind of impression you might get when you visit Watkins Glen State Park because it really does feel other worldly.

And being that this place is also near Finger Lakes, like Ithaca Falls, the ability to explore these places near one another is easy and in general, Finger Lakes has tons of activities you can explore.

7) Hector Falls:

Hector falls new york

Where is it? Near Seneca Lake (very close to Wakins Glen State Park).

How tall is it? It’s over 50 feet high.

Description: Hector falls is very close to Watkins Glen, and it’s the fact that this waterfall drops like steps on and on that really makes it worth seeing.

To get here, you’ll have to park off the road and walk underneath the bridge where that falls passes.

But I promise you this waterfall is so peaceful, and long that you probably won’t want to leave this area.

I found myself loving this waterfall so much that my buddy and I stayed there for quite awhile before moving onto the next stage of our trip (called the Appalachian Mountains road trip), and it involved going into Watkins Glen State Park.

6) Taughannock Falls:

taughannock falls

Where is it? Also near Seneca Lake, in Finger Lakes New York.

How tall is it? Over 150 feet high.

Description: Taughannock Falls is a very crowded and popular falls for people who visit Finger Lakes and there are trails and parks near it, as well as over and under that’ll give you some amazing views to remember from this place.

I also visited this waterfall during the same road trip I mentioned above and it is all tied together. In fact, we visited this waterfall first in Finger Lakes, followed by Hector Falls, and then all of the beauty in Watkins Glen.

All of this took us a few hours to do so the good news is that these 3 waterfalls are so close by to one another that exploring them is very easy to do by car (and highly recommended too).

Now with the next waterfall, we’ve moving away from Finger Lakes and more towards the eastern side of the state:

5) Awosting Falls:

awosting falls

Where is it? In Lake Minnewaska (upstate New York).

How tall is it? About 80 feet high.

Description: Awosting Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Lake Minnewaska region.

At the same time, the park itself is highly recommended to people who wish to have a fun filled day in the upstate New York area.

There’s activities such as kayaking, hiking, camping and exploring available all around the Lake Minnewaska area and most of the trails are very easy to walk through.

Lake Minnewaska is a very docile park to explore in general and it’s one of the things that makes it attractive for tourists.

4) Croton Dam Waterfall:

Croton dam falls new york

Where is it? About an hour north of NYC.

How fall is it? Over 50 feet high.

Description: This is the only waterfall on the list that’s man made (water dam), but the way it’s shaped, designed and flows is simply amazing and highly recommended.

Picnic areas, bike rides and hiking trails are available near Croton Dam’s waterfall and if you’re a NYC resident, getting here is very easy.

The only issue is that it may take sometime if you’re a NYC resident due to all the traffic, so going here early in the morning on a weekend is likely your best bet.

But be aware that Croton Dam is popular, so you will see a lot of people in this area.

3) Minekill Falls:

minekill falls

Where is it? In the Catskill Mountains (Upstate New York).

How tall is it? About 50 feet high.

Description: Minekill Falls is one of my favorite waterfalls to visit whenever I visit the Catskills.

It has viewing areas over and under it, in addition to easy, but steep hikes if you wish to walk to the bottom of the falls.

There’s also gorges in the area that are very scenic.

Sadly, swimming is not allowed here, but there are hiking trails to and from Minekill falls that you can explore too.

Either way, this is an exciting waterfall to check out and highly recommended.

2) Kaaterskill Falls (one of my favorites):

kaaterskill falls

Where is it? Also in the Catskill Mountains.

How tall is it? There’s 2 levels to it, both making it about 200 feet high.

Description: Kaaterskill falls is one the tallest and most beautiful falls in all of New York State in my opinion and it’s also one of my favorites because of how “interactive” it is.

What I mean by interactive is that there is a hiking trail is available to reach it from the bottom and from the top but in addition, this whole waterfall is open to people swimming in the pools, walking up to the waterfall itself, and even hiking through cave areas in the area itself.

Out of all the waterfalls I’ve seen in New York State, this is the one I’ve visited the most and enjoyed the most so far.

I also recommend checking out the link to my Catskills article below to see what else you can do in this area.

1) Unnamed Secret waterfall:

secret waterfall catskills

Where is it? Again in the Catskills, about a 5 minute drive from the parking area that goes to Kaaterskill Falls.

How tall is it? About 20 feet.

Description: This waterfall is one I take when I hike through the Catskills, and it leads through beautiful and secret scenic trails I detail in this article on what to do in the Catskills.

Sometimes I just enjoy sitting near this waterfall and/or swimming in the pool area it runs into.

If you go at the top of the falls, there’s also a swimming hole/Jacuzzi area I recommend checking out, as well as another waterfall further upriver called Fawn’s Leap.

Overall, this waterfall is connected to many adventures close by that you can do!

How to do a road trip to see all of these waterfalls in New York State:

If you want to do a scenic road trip through New York State and see all of these waterfalls, here is a Google map preview of how it’ll look:

scenic road trip new york state

I started mine in Brooklyn, but this map preview shows what to expect in terms of where each location is. You can honestly do this kind of road trip and see all 10 of these waterfalls in about 2-3 days.

Looking for more adventures around New York State?

Waterfalls obviously aren’t the only nature attractions in this beautiful state. If you enjoy scenic drives, then New York State is known for that too and in the very article I linked to, you’ll also find my personal list of drives to check out!

And if you are someone who lives in New York City specifically and want to get out of the city to do some day hiking, then read this article on day hikes near NYC that are totally worth exploring, with some of the options being the same ones on this list!

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