New York State Waterfall Roadtrip!
New York State sure does have its share of waterfalls! From the giants found at Niagara Falls, Letchworth State Park, Ausable Chasm, and Cohoes, to the smaller, yet picturesque, falls that dot the landscape across the state, waterfalls are a driving force for industry and tourism.
We’ve put together a list of some favorite waterfalls with brief descriptions, outlined a track, and created a map so you can plan a waterfall roadtrip across the state, and discover your favorite falls at your own pace! The best part is that you can find so many more waterfalls than what we’ve included here!
By clicking the name of a waterfall, you will be taken to a dedicated page for that location. On this page you’ll find information and two maps, one of which will show you the closest waterfalls to your, or the selected, location. Directions will also be available. The possibilities are endless!
While we try to include as much information as possible, we all know information can be fluid and change at a moment’s notice. Please take the time to check with parks ahead of time, especially seasonally, before heading making plans and heading out. We’ve included links to a number of places that may require an entrance fee, or be subject to weather or seasonal closings.
Note: The brief descriptions are not meant to be used as directions. Use the included map to plan your route and get driving directions.
Bronx River Waterfalls – When you hear someone speak of New York City, the last thing you may think is “waterfalls”. However, although the lower elevation prevents the formation of large waterfalls, the Bronx River hosts a handful of cascades in the area of the Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden.
Croton Gorge Park – At Croton Gorge Park you’ll find the massive New Croton Dam where a series of drops end with a 60ft cascade. While the waterfall is great to look at, the massive 297ft dam, built between 1847 and 1842, steals the show.
Indian Brook Falls – In Garrison, the 25ft Indian Brook Falls forms on Indian Brook before its confluence with the Hudson River at Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary. After taking in the scenery, follow NY Route 9D north for more scenery along the river.
Tioranda Falls at Madam Brett Park – In Beacon, a waterfall forms on Fishkill Creek in Madam Brett Park. Another nice waterfall forms along Main Street, near the Roundhouse, where the creek flows under the bridge.
Wappingers Falls – Wappingers Falls is where a waterfall of the same name forms as Wappinger Creek flows under Route 9D. The cascade measures a total of 75ft over a series of small drops that span approximately 30 yards.
Dover Stone Church Falls – For a unique waterfall experience, travel to Dover Plains where you’ll find Dover Stone Church. This cave houses a waterfall at the end of a short hike. The trail system also leads to scenic overlooks.
High Falls (Philmont) – A small village with a large hidden gem! Philmont is home to High Falls Conservation area where you’ll find two waterfalls, one being the 150ft High Falls. A second waterfall, found at creek side just before the main falls, is Agawamuck Falls. Here, water flows down a hillside, fanning out at the bottom, and split by a small patch of earth holding a tree.
Stuyvesant Falls – This waterfall forms at a dam that spans the Stuyvesant Creek in the hamlet of Stuyvesant Falls.
Mount Ida Falls – In Troy, you can find several waterfalls within the city’s boundary. Most notably are Burden Falls and Mount Ida Falls; both well-known for their roles in the industry and history. These falls, with several others, are part of the Narrows Cascades and Heritage Trail and Burden Park Environmental Park.
Cohoes Falls – This “Niagara of the East” spans 1,000ft across the Mohawk River and stands at 180ft.
Dionondahowa Falls – Dionondahowa Falls in Greenwich forms on the Battenkill River and stands at 60ft. There are two viewpoints for this waterfall that forms beneath a dam.
Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park – Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park in Pottersville is home to the largest cave entrance in the eastern United States… and some waterfalls. Sawmill Falls and Noisy Cave Falls, which forms inside a cave, are the two must-see falls here. Aside from caves and waterfalls, they also offer adventure tours, wedding venue, rock shop, gift shop, museum, and activities for all ages.
Split Rock Falls – Be sure to stop by Split Rock Falls in Elizabethtown. This roadside favorite is a hot spot (no pun intended) in the Summer months where you’ll find a crowd cooling off in the crystal-clear pools of Adirondack mountain water.
Roaring Brook Falls – Driving west on route 73 from Split Rock Falls, you’ll pass 300ft Roaring Brook Falls. There’s a pull-off to view the falls as a whole, or you can park in a lot at the bottom of the hill and hike .03-mile to the base of the falls.
Rainbow Falls and the Adirondack Mountain Reserve – Across the road from the lot for Roaring Brook Falls is another parking lot for the Adirondack Mountain Reserve, often referred to as the AMR. The AMR is home to over a dozen waterfalls such as those on Gill Brook, Rainbow Falls, Beaver Meadow Falls, and Wedge Brook Falls.
Stag Brook Falls – Making your way through Lake Placid and up to Wilmington, you can visit Stag Brook Falls on Whiteface Mountain. The star of this trail is often the only waterfall visited here despite there being a multitude of cascades further up the 0.6-mile trail!
Auger Falls – This 40ft waterfall forms on the Sacandaga River in Wells. A short hike through the forest leads to the falls.
Buttermilk Falls (Arietta) – This popular 40ft waterfall forms on the Raquette River just outside of Long Lake.
OK Slip Falls – This 250ft cascade forms on OK Slip Brook as it joins with the Hudson River Gorge. An approximate 3-mile hike to the falls offers a lateral view.
Bog River Falls – This picturesque waterfall forms beneath a stone bridge as the river empties into Tupper Lake. An upper section of falls makes for a nice backdrop for a riverside picnic.
Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm – Ausable Chasm, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”, is home to 70ft Rainbow Falls; possibly the most photographed waterfall in the Adirondacks. The iconic waterfall can be seen from the bridge on route 9 that spans the Ausable River. Aside from the waterfall, there is also a self-guided tour, raft ride, tubing, adventure course, disc golf, and a host of other activities.
High Falls (Chateaugay) – Next, head west to Chateaugay where you’ll find 120ft High Falls at High Falls Park Campground. After paying a small fee to enter, you can visit the waterfall, or camp overnight if you’d like.
Rainbow Falls (Grass River) – The Grass River and Tooley Pond Road are popular for the high number of waterfalls that can be found in a relatively small area. Harper, Lampson, and Twin Falls are just a handful of waterfalls at the ends of short hikes or at roadside.
Black River Falls – Following the trail to Watertown, you’ll come upon Black River Falls. This 25ft waterfall forms at a dam on the Black River.
Pixley Falls – The next stop is Pixley Falls State Park, home to 50ft Pixley Falls, as well as other smaller cascades. The park features hiking trails and areas for picnics, as well as a pavilion.
Tinkers Falls – From there, you can make your way to Tinkers Falls; a 45ft waterfall located in the Labrador Hollow Unique Area. There are trails that lead to the base and along the top of the falls, as well as a scenic overlook.
Carpenter Falls – Carpenter Falls, the 76ft waterfall at the Bahar Preserve in Moravia, forms on Bear Swamp Creek at roadside. To get a good view of the falls, park in the small parking area and follow the trail to the falls.
The many gorges found in Ithaca have led to the saying “Ithaca is gorges”, and rightfully so. If you’re a fan of waterfalls, Ithaca has enough to keep you busy for a while. Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls State Parks, Cascadilla Gorge Trail, Swedler and Thayer Preserves, Fall Creek Gorge Trail, and Wells, Ithaca, and Taughannock Falls are all well-known waterfall locations in the area.
Driving west from Ithaca is Watkins Glen, with Montour Falls just down the road. Watkins Glen State Park is home to 19 waterfalls, including the famous Rainbow Falls! The surrounding area contains numerous waterfalls as thousands of years of erosion have created dozens of gorges and glens that often contain multiple cascades. Hector Falls, the massive roadside waterfall that forms just before the creek enters the lake is an oft-visited spot just north of town, while Aunt Sarah’s, Shequaga, and Eagle Cliff Falls at Havana Glen Park, are frequented in Montour Falls to the west.
Seneca Mills Falls – Drive north from Watkins Glen to Penn Yan where Seneca Mills Falls forms on the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail. The site of a former dam and factory offers a historical backdrop to the falls.
Grimes Glen – Naples is the next spot to find cascades hidden in gorges. Grimes Glen and Tannery Creek both have large falls tucked away upstream!
Letchworth State Park – Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls, in addition to the more than dozen other waterfalls found throughout the park will keep you busy if you’re not already distracted by the stunning views!
Eternal Flame Falls – Just south of Buffalo, in Orchard Park, you’ll find another unique cascade in Eternal Flame Falls. This waterfall houses a natural gas spring that is often ablaze in a small cutout behind the falling water.
Niagara Falls – Now it’s time to get to the big one! Head north to Niagara Falls State Park to view American and Bridal Veil Falls on the American Side, and Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side. Aside from seeing the falls from the overlooks, you can also take a boatride on the Maid of the Mist or get up close and personal with American and Bridal Veil Falls at the Cave of the Winds. For another unique experience, check out Rainbow Air for a helicopter tour over the falls!
Holley Canal Falls – Head east to Holley where 30ft Holley Canal Falls is found in a small park.
Honeoye Falls – Head south to Honeoye Falls to find a waterfall of the same name formed on a dam behind the municipal building. 20ft Honeoye Falls can be viewed from a bridge that spans the creek or from a small park next to the municipal building.
Wolcott Falls – Continue east to Wolcott where Wolcott Falls awaits at roadside. View the falls from a deck or make your way to the base for a head-on view.
Salmon River Falls – Drive northeast to Orwell to find 110ft Salmon River Falls. This massive waterfall forms on the Salmon River in the Salmon River Unique Area. Note that recently the trail leading to the base of the falls was closed due to disrepair creating a dangerous situation.
Kaaterskill Falls – Arguably the most popular of Catskills waterfalls is Kaaterskill Falls. This multi-tiered fall stands at a total of 231ft. At the beginning of the lower trail, you’ll also find Bastion Falls.
John Boyd Thacher State Park – At this popular state park you’ll find Mine Lot Falls, a large plunge waterfall flowing over the Helderberg Escarpment. There are also numerous other falls to be found throughout the park.
Plotter Kill Preserve – The 60ft upper falls are the standout here. A second, 40ft lower falls awaits hikers downstream.
Rensselaerville Falls – From its crest, Rensselaervile Falls drops a total of 100ft as it winds its way along Ten-mile Creek.
Bozenkill Falls – This waterfall is the main attraction while a number of smaller falls form along the Bozen Kill at Christman Sanctuary in Duanesburg. In addition to waterfalls, there are miles of trails for hikers.
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Some waterfalls have a reputation for being dangerous. While terrain and trail conditions can make any waterfall hazardous, ALMOST every accident at waterfalls can be avoided.
By following a few pointers and exercising diligence and common sense, a trip to a waterfall can be a lasting memory rather than a tragedy.
- Waterfalls, by their very nature, are a draw for people to climb on, swim near, or jump from. If you decide to jump (please—never dive!) into an inviting pool at a waterfall, it is imperative that you first check out the water for unseen objects. Trees, branches, and other debris can wash downstream and become lodged under the water’s surface, creating an unseen and deadly hazard. Large trees, boulders, and even debris like rope or netting can ensnare someone, with disastrous consequences.
- When water levels are high and waterfalls really get going, there will be not only be an increase in the power of the current, but an increase in foam and aeration (air bubbles in the water) as the water shoots down into the pool from above. This aerated water does not afford the same resistance that swimmers are used to when they try to pull themselves up or out.
Increased water circulation and the force of the onrushing current can also push swimmers into or under underwater ledges, giving no chance for escape. Many swimmers have perished because they underestimated the power of moving water. Do not swim when conditions even look dangerous. Chances are, they are.
- Do not get too close to the edge of the waterfall’s precipice. Too many people have fallen to their deaths by trying to get a better look or by getting that photo or selfie. NO PHOTOGRAPH OR “SELFIE” IS WORTH YOUR LIFE.
If signs are posted, pay close attention and do not go where they tell you not to. They are there for a reason. Just because you may see others doing things that they shouldn’t be doing doesn’t mean it’s allowed. Instagram stardom doesn’t count if you’re dead.
- Be mindful of your surroundings. If you are in a gorge or area with high walls, look around for potentially hazardous objects that might fall. Nothing should be discounted here. Boulders, trees, and blocks of ice can break loose from above and come crashing down. When in doubt, make the safe call.
- Crossing high and/or turbulent water should only be done if you are properly equipped to do so and have an exit plan if you should get swept off your feet.
- Wear proper footwear; something with good traction and support that will help prevent slipping. If visiting a waterfall in the winter, wear micro-spikes or other traction devices to keep you from slipping on ice.
- Wear proper clothing at all times. When wet, cotton and denim will remain damp for prolonged periods, potentially leading to hypothermia (a dangerous cooling down of the body), even in moderate weather.
- Always carry a flashlight, headlamp, or other form of lighting in case your hike goes on longer than you had planned and it gets dark. Don’t rely on a cell phone flashlight.
- Always respect posted and private property, and practice “carry in, carry out” with any trash you may have made from wrappers or bottles.
- Take note that many of these hikes would be considered “difficult” or “moderate” to the average hiker. Participants should be aware of their own abilities, and of the risks associated with outdoor activities. Preparation is vital.
- Those who plan on hiking to any of these waterfalls should make the necessary preparations and consult the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) website at www.dec.ny.gov for bulletins, weather alerts, and other important information.
- Using drugs and/or alcohol is not recommended when visiting waterfalls, as impaired abilities can lead to accidents.