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7 Most Stunning Waterfalls in the Catskills

Upstate New York blesses locals and visitors with a taste of the ethereal — the lush, tree-filled hills in the Catskills Mountains invite you to explore every ridge and valley through wildlife sightings and peaceful hiking trails. 

As you progress on a hike, you might feel the fresh air envelop your body. The sound of water rushing echoes through the trees, drawing you closer to the piece de resistance of the Catskills Mountains: the plentiful waterfalls. 

One look is enough to feel cleansed and released from your day’s stresses and anxieties as the ever-swooshing water mimics the constant flow of energy that moves us through the waves of life. 

Sounds like the perfect getaway or romantic escape from your day-to-day hustle. You can experience these waterfalls at your leisure if you stay at one of our luxurious yet cozy Catskill vacation home rentals. We’ll walk you through our favorite waterfalls in the region, plus the unique characteristics of each one.

1. Kaaterskill Falls

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer
  • Location: Kaaterskill Falls, Hunter, NY 
  • Notable feature: Double cascade or two-tier waterfall.

Ever thought you’d witness Eastern New York’s tallest waterfalls? Enjoy the 260 feet of Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County, which separates into two dreamy cascades (a two-stage waterfall). 

You can take a lovely waterfall hike down an impressive 300 feet to the base of the falls (or up if you’re looking for a workout), but remember to pack the right hiking gear. The Visitor Center also cautions against going off trail, as rustic, exposed rock and loose soil are a pretty sight for the eyes but dangerous to maneuver. 

The sumptuous layering of rocks against the backdrop of the airy waterfall and rich greenery is enough to calm even the most stressed-out souls. 

Take a moderate 0.6-mile hike up to the viewing platform and absorb the sight that inspired many 19th-century paintings and poetry. Or, hike down to the second level for a dip in the refreshing water body that touches the falls!

2. Old Mill Falls

Photo Credit: Dean Goss via Flickr CC2.0
  • Location: Old Mill Falls, Hunter, NY 
  • Best for: Intimate hikes, fewer crowds.

Planning a trip to the historic and rugged Platte Cove? This natural wonder spans 208 acres and boasts a number of gorgeous waterfalls. The first? Old Mill Falls is named after the old flour mill that used to sit at the falls’ base.

Tucked away in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, Old Mill Falls is best seen in the spring or after a heavy rain, when its cascades flow with full force and leave behind an angelic veil of mist overtop the water. Plus, it’s an easy trip if you’re traveling with young ones since the trek isn’t too long or steep. Beginner hikers, rejoice!

Unlike other popular scenic waterfalls that can be bustling with visitors, Plattekill Falls offers a peaceful escape where you can fully appreciate the serenity of the natural world.

3. Artist Falls 

  • Location: Artist Falls, Keene, NY 
  • Notable feature: Artist Falls is an easy 2-3 minute walk from the parking lot.

Artist Falls cascades gracefully over moss-covered rocks down a 25-foot drop into pristine waters. 

Perched just above the falls is the historic Alfred Clark Covered Bridge, a landmark that bridges the gap between the past and present. Its weathered wooden structure is a testament to a long-gone era, bringing on a sense of nostalgia and inviting visitors to stroll through time. Talk about rustic! 

All viewing points are fairly easy to access; a few minutes walk from the parking areas. Kids will enjoy an outdoor pool, while history buffs will relish the 1800s sawmill at the end of the path at the base of the falls.

4. Vernooy Kill Falls

Photo Credit: VIKVAD
  • Location: Vernooy Kill State Forest, 561 Rogue Harbor Rd, Kerhonkson, NY 
  • Notable features: Long-ish hike and dreamy, multiple-tiered falls.

Looking for a New York state park to sink your adventurous teeth into? Take a day trip to Vernooy Kill Forest, featuring a tucked-away 49-foot waterfall: Vernooy Kill Falls. 

Rolling, verdant, and dancing with intrigue and mystique, Vernooy Kill Falls sweeps you into another world with its many subtle tiers. But to reach this utopian nugget of nature, you’ll have to take a moderately challenging and rocky 3.5-mile hike along the Vernooy Falls Trail, which should take you an hour and a half to complete. 

A word of caution — this region is well-known as the home of many Timber rattlesnakes. 

5. Plattekill Falls

Photo Credit: The American Explorer
  • Location: Platte Clove Preserve, Catskill Center, Platte Clove Rd, Elka Park, NY 
  • Best for: Intermediate hikers.

The Platte Clove Preserve is known for the dreamy Plattekill Falls, accessible via a ⅓-mile hiking trail that starts at an information center. Adventurers, to the front! You’ll need to traverse narrow paths and downward slopes to reach the Plattekill Falls, so we’d recommend strong hiking shoes. 

Don’t worry about the sweat building under your shirt. The majestic views will be so worth it. Surrounding lush greenery provides a stunning backdrop, enhancing the falls’ allure and feelings of peace. The only downside? No swimming allowed. 

6. Bastion Falls 

Photo Credit: Angelo Spillo
  • Location: Bastion Falls, Haines Falls, NY 
  • Best for: History buffs and beginner hikers.

Bastion Falls stands as a breathtaking testament to the raw beauty of nature. Although you can easily catch glimpses of this beautiful 70-foot waterfall while driving on Route 23A, you can’t park and take your time to watch while on the road. Instead, you’ll have to park at the Laurel House Road parking lot and hike to this area from the top of Kaaterskill Falls. 

Don’t worry; at a mere half-hour trek, it’s a beginner-friendly hike. But you can also access the Kaaterskill Trolley for a budget-friendly $10 ride. 

We highly suggest packing two waterfall trips in one day, as you can easily pass over to the Kaaterskill Falls after finishing Bastion Falls. 

7. Awosting Falls

Photo Credit: Brian Logan Photography
  • Location: Minnewaska State Park Preserve, 5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY 
  • Notable features: Small pool and grand views.

Awosting Falls is a natural masterpiece that beckons visitors with its sheer beauty and size. Located in Lake Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Awosting Falls is the park’s biggest waterfall, flowing down a steep 65 feet. Sit at the base of the falls to get the best view of its grandeur. 

A nice plus? Couples, families, and friends can all enjoy a refreshing dip in the small pool. 

While there is a handicapped parking area, the accessibility of the trail for someone in a wheelchair may be difficult due to the trail’s steepness, which spans about 1.2 miles.

Relish the Catskills’ Waterfalls at Your Red Cottage Rental!

From the grand, awe-inspiring Kaaterskill Falls to the intimate and enchanting Artist Waterfall, the Catskills boast some of the country’s most gorgeous natural wonders. 

This is the perfect destination for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those with an eye for beauty. Forget the stressful hustle-bustle of Manhattan — indulge in the more peaceful, rustic northern part of the state that channels serenity and calmness in every trailhead and waterfall. And once you’re finished taking in the best views of each waterfall? It’s time to relax and unwind at your secluded escape to a Red Cottage property. We offer the perfect sanctuary for travelers to the Catskills region, featuring stone fireplaces, private villas, outdoor pools, and access to swimming holes in nearby creeks.

Can’t Miss Things to Do in the Catskills

Located in upstate New York, just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of the NYC city streets, the Catskills Mountain Range is a welcome retreat from the chaos of daily life. Everyone has a favorite season in the Catskills, and you’ll find no shortage of incredible year-round experiences amongst these majestic mountains.  

You can swim in a pristine waterfall during the scorching summer months, hike amongst the fall foliage while enjoying nature’s first autumn hues, marvel over snowy mountain vistas and glittering waterfalls, or appreciate the splendor of spring as it emerges from its winter slumber.  

Whether you’re coming as a family or for a romantic getaway, the Catskills offers a bucket list waiting to be fulfilled while staying at a Red Cottage vacation home. These are just a few of the best ways to have an authentic Catskills experience

Summer Outdoor Adventures in the Catskills

From stunning waterfalls to panoramic views, the natural wonder of the Catskills is the perfect getaway for all outdoors enthusiasts. There are plenty of opportunities to take to the Delaware River for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing as well. 

It would be a shame to go to the Catskills without soaking up a bit of her beautiful nature! Here are some of the highlights of outdoor adventures in the Catskills.

Kaaterskills Falls 

Photo Credit: James Parascandola

One of the most Instagram-worthy attractions in the Catskills is undoubtedly Kaaterskills Falls. Tucked inside the Catskill Forest Preserve in Greene County, you’ll find the highest cascading waterfall in New York. This incredible two-tiered waterfall spans an impressive 260 feet.  

The trail itself spans approximately 1.4 miles round trip. At the top of the trail, you’ll find a viewing platform for hikers, which offers an amazing aerial view of the stunning falls.  You can continue down to the actual waterfall via another trail.  

Be sure to wear hiking shoes, as the trek down is moderately difficult and can sometimes be quite muddy. 

Peekamoose Blue Hole

Photo Credit: Cory Seamer

Tucked away in the scenic wilderness of the Catskill Forest Preserve, you’ll find the crystal clear waters of Peekamoose Blue Hole. This natural wonder formed from sand swirling around in a whirlpool and landing in an intricate design only nature could create. While its emerald blue waters appear inviting, be warned the waters are notoriously cold.  

Be sure to check out their website before visiting. This spot gets extremely crowded, and several restrictions are in place due to past issues with littering. You will need a parking permit to visit.

Overlook Mountain Fire Tower

Photo Credit: Todd Maertz

It’s a bit of a hike to this spot, but well worth it for the incredible view. This 4.5 trail, located in the town of Woodstock, boasts incredible views of the Hudson River Valley and Ashokan Reservoir.  

The Overlook Mountain fire tower is one of 5 stationed throughout the Catskills.  It spans 60 feet tall, reaching an impressive 3,140 elevation over the valleys below. It offers a panoramic view that is breathtaking in any season.  

Catskill Fly Fishing Center

Photo Credit: David W. Leindecker

The Catskills have long been deemed the birthplace of American fly fishing. The Catskill Fly Fishing Center tells the rich history of fly fishing in the Catskills and throughout the world.

This center and museum, located on the road between Livingston Manor and Roscoe, is the perfect spot for the fishing enthusiast in your life. You can spend an afternoon exploring the 53-acre grounds which line the Willowemoc Creek banks or check out the casting fields and ponds on the property.

There is also a museum inside where you’ll find the original souvenirs from the dawn of fly fishing in America. You’ll also hear the stories of the fly fishing pioneers of the region and learn about the techniques they used while fishing the waters nearby. 

After your visit, grab a rod and reel and cast your troubles away in the waters of one of the many surrounding rivers, ponds, and creeks. 

Mohonk Preserve

Photo Credit: Photo Spirit

Nestled in the Shawangunk Mountains in the town of  New Paltz, you’ll find New York State’s largest natural preserve. Established in the mid-19th century, Mohonk Preserve was created to protect the natural scenic landscape of the region. 

With over 70 miles of hiking trails and carriage roads, Mohonk offers hours of outdoor excursions. You can also visit with your horse and ride horseback through the mountains. Thrill seekers may enjoy climbing the Gunks climbing cliffs. Mohonk Preserve also offers access to their trails for skiing/snow snowing in the winter. 

The park is open year-round to visitors. There is a fee for day use, and cost-effective memberships are also available if you plan to visit for several days. 

Zoom Flume Water Park

Photo Credit: CliffMuller via Flickr CC2.0

Open seasonally from June to September, Zoom Flume Water Park is a summertime attraction perfect for escaping the heat! 

Located in the center of Greene County in Windham, this expansive water park is built around a vast gorge. It offers eight different water slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, and a few pools and splash areas.

The layout of this park is unique as it’s separated into three distinct sections, all with surrounding views of the mountains and the gorge. At reasonable ticket prices, this water park comes with incredible free scenery!

Saugerties Lighthouse

Photo Credit: Brian Logan Photography

This historic beacon was constructed off the shores of the Hudson River in 1869. The Saugerties Lighthouse served to warn ships of the shallow waters of the mouth of Esopus Creek. 

The lighthouse has since been restored to reflect its original 20th-century charm. The building also contains a small museum and restored quarters open for scheduled tours.  Tours include a thorough overview of the lighthouse’s history and views of the museum and operational tower.  

Reaching the lighthouse requires walking a half-mile nature trail through quiet coastal forests, tidal pools, and a long wooden boardwalk. Keep in mind that parts of the trail can experience tidal flooding daily, and river debris can remain on the trail. This includes sharp items, so be sure to wear footwear suitable for hiking. 

Winter Outdoor Activities in the Catskills

If hitting the slopes is high on your Catskills bucket list, you’ll find no shortage of world-class skiing opportunities here. Many area ski resorts also offer unique activities that can be enjoyed even if you do not visit in the winter. 

Belleayre Mountain

Photo Credit: Colin D. Young

Open to skiing and snowboarding from late November to mid-April (dates vary by season), Belleayre Mountain encompasses over 174 skiable acres, 50 trails, eight lifts, and one pretty epic gondola ride.  

It is highly recommended you purchase tickets online in advance to ensure availability.  Rental equipment is also available and encouraged to be booked in advance. Belleayre reopens during the summer to offer access to Belleayre Beach, disc golf, hiking, and scenic gondola views. 

Their gondolas can accommodate up to 8 people for a 7-minute ride to the summit of Belleayre Mountain. You can enjoy incredible views of the Catskill Forest Preserve as you rise 1,350 feet from the lodge to the peak. After enjoying the views, you can return via gondola or by hiking down the mountain. 

Hunter Mountain 

Photo Credit: JWCohen

Hunter Mountain is the second highest peak in the Catskills and another favorite destination of snow bunnies in the Catskills. Located in Greene County, this mountain resort offers plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes.

Hunter Mountain offers skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing for those in pursuit of some winter fun. They have over 50 miles of trails to enjoy.

On the mountain, you’ll find other activities open year-round, including another of the Catskills fire towers. The tower is accessible by a four-mile hike through the woods or on a scenic Skyride on a chair lift to the 3,200-foot summit. 

Bearpen Mountain Sports 

Photo Credit: Mad Hare Imagery

Nestled away in Prattsville, you’ll find the epic outdoor playground that is Bearpen Mountain. Here you’ll find abundant winter activities that everyone in your group can enjoy.  

In addition to cross-country skiing, Bearpen also offers snow tubing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, and ice skating. They offer rental equipment for all of their activities. 

Advance tickets are required for skiing and snow tubing but not other activities.  The mountain is open seasonally from December to March (weather dependent).  

Excursions in the Catskills 

From historic sites to quirky roadside attractions, the Catskills have a unique excursion for any traveler.  

Thomas Cole National Historic Site  

Photo Credit: Sandra Foyt

This historic site in the Catskills was once home to renowned artist Thomas Cole.  Cole founded the nation’s first art movement, the Hudson River School of Painting. 

Upon visiting, you’ll quickly realize the inspiration for Cole’s landscape paintings.  His home is available to visit during a 45-minute guided tour. Tickets can be purchased online.

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Photo Credit: Alizada Studios

You can appeal to your inner hippie by visiting the site of the most legendary music festival in history.  

In 1969 Bethel Woods Center for the Arts was home to Woodstock, a 3-day music and art festival that became synonymous with 60s Pop Culture.  This epic festival hosted legends like Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, the Who, and Janis Joplin. 

On-site, you’ll find a museum dedicated to preserving the history of that extraordinary event. This impressive stadium continues to host other musical legends in concert.  Check out their event calendar for an impressive lineup of concerts and festivals.

Rail Explorers

Photo Credit: Eric Dale

This eccentric attraction utilizes old railroad tracks and pedal-powered bikes for a truly unique mountain tour. 

Located in Tannersville, Rail Explorers spans the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad, which was built in 1899. This eight-mile round- trip is a quiet and relaxing ride through the woods of the Catskills Mountains along the banks of Esopus Creek.

Vehicles can accommodate 2 to 4 people, and the entire tour takes about 2.5 hours.  This experience is hands-free, allowing you to capture incredible images and video. You can also experience this ride in the evening by lantern light.

New York Zipline

Located at the base of Hunter Mountain, you’ll find the longest, highest, and fastest zipline tour in North America. New York Ziplines Mid Mountain tour offers a 4.6-mile ride zipping from peak to peak of the Catskills Mountains at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

They also provide a Mid-Mountain Adventure Tour, which leads you through the trees challenging you with fun obstacles along the way. Featuring a combination of rope bridges, aerial tree platforms, ziplines, and one rappel, it’s a 3-hour adventure families are sure to enjoy.

You can book appointments easily through their website.  Be sure to read their requirements and restrictions before booking.

Hobart Book Village

Perhaps one of the more unique locations in the Catskills is the Hobart Book Village. You’ll find an eclectic collection of bookshops and boutiques in the Great Western Catskills of Delaware County.

This small town is filled with bookstores that line two blocks of Main Street. Each bookstore has its own unique charm and offers different genres, and some include rare volumes and antique texts.

Additionally, you’ll find a coffee shop to enjoy a good cup of joe while enjoying your latest book haul.  This quaint little town is every book lover’s dream come true!

Gnome Chomsky

Photo Credit: Toby Bochan via Flickr CC2.0

The Gnome Chomsky, a quirky roadside attraction, is a quick and unique stop! You’ll find one of the world’s largest garden gnomes just outside Kerhonkson’s small hamlet at Kelder’s Farm’s entrance.  

After taking a pic with the much beloved Gnome Chomsky, be sure to pop over to the farm for some down-home family fun! 

Stay and Explore in the Catskills

One thing’s for sure, New York City has nothing on the natural beauty of the Catskills Mountains. No matter the reason or season for your visit, you’ll find no shortage of incredible adventures while staying in a Catskills vacation home rental.

Featured Image Credit: Real Window Creative