Kaaterskill Clove – Home to one of the tallest waterfalls in New York State!
Kaaterskill Falls, located in the eastern part of the Catskill Mountains and in the town of Haines Falls, is a two tier fall totaling 231 feet, making it one of the tallest waterfall in New York State (known for quite some time as the tallest!). Kaaterskill Falls is also the most visited tourist attraction in the Catskill Mountains. In the spring, summer and fall, the parking lots at both entrances are usually full.
There are two ways to see Kaaterskill Falls; One trail to the bottom of the falls and one to the top.
To reach the bottom of the falls, park at the lot located on route 23a in Haines Falls (42.189823, -74.074183). You will pass over Spruce Creek on your way to the lot, traveling uphill. At the parking lot, walk across the street and get on the other side of the guard rail. Please do not walk on the road! Cars fly by you on the road and they might be going too fast to see you. Once you arrive at the bridge you will be greeted by Bastion Falls; you will leave the road and start on the dirt trail, located on the opposite side of the creek. You will see a sign that states that Kaaterskill Falls are 1/2 mile away. Leave the road and start walking up the trail.
Registering at the DEC sign in station helps bring money to this trail for maintenance and work. The busy trails get the most money, so please be sure to sign in. The trail can be wet and muddy during rainy periods, so please be cautious. After 0.46 miles up the trail, you will come to the bottom of Kaaterskill Falls. There is a trail on the right side of Kaaterskill Falls (looking up at the falls) that will take you to the top of the Falls. We strongly recommend that you DO NOT try to deviate from this trail. The reason it was created was that it is very dangerous, prior to the new trail work performed in 2016. Every year someone falls off the trail results in death or major injuries.
The hike to the top of the falls starts at the Laurel House Road (103 Laurel House Rd, Palenville). At the parking lot, walk past the metal gates and walk 0.22 miles down the trail. There are many other trails that lead you to different historic locations, so stay on the trail and you will arrive at the top of Kaaterskill Falls in minutes. PLEASE — USE EXTREME CAUTION ON THE TOP. The rocks can be very slippery.
The falls are one of America’s oldest tourist attractions, with it appearing in some of the most prominent books, essays, poems and paintings of the early 19th century. Long before Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous essay on America, Kaaterskill Falls was lauded as a place where a traveler could see a wilder image, a sort of primeval Eden. Beginning with Thomas Cole’s first visit in 1825, they became an iconic subject for painters of the Hudson River School, setting the wilderness ideal for American landscape painting. The Falls also inspired “Catterskill Falls”, a poem by William Cullen Bryant.
For more information, check out Russell Dunn’s Catskills Waterfall Guide.