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:
- The amazing scenic drives in New York State you can check out.
- Or if you live in NYC, hiking spots right near it that are amazing adventures.
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:
- Ithaca Falls.
- Minekill Falls
- Middle Falls.
- Awosting Falls.
- Hector Falls.
- Taughannock Falls.
- Kaaterskill Falls.
- Secret Waterfall in the Catskills.
- Croton Dam Waterfall.
- 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:
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.
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).
9) Ithaca Falls:
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.
8) Rainbow Falls.
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.
7) Hector Falls:
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, but I promise you this waterfall is so peaceful, and long that you probably won’t want to leave.
6) 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.
5) 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.
4) Croton Dam Waterfall:
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.
3) 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.
2) Kaaterskill Falls (one of my favorites):
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.
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.
1) Unnamed Secret waterfall:
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.
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:
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!