Rippin a Quick Trip to Kaaterskill Falls
What up Road Trip Warriors!? This past Sunday (11/11/18), my brother and I were limited on time. Despite this, we still found an adventure we could go on an hour and a half south of us in the Catskills of NY. We had both heard great reviews of a waterfall by the name of Kaaterskill Falls. The hike was relatively short and we could get in done in a few hours. Needless to say, we packed our bags quickly and left the house around 7:00 AM. This waterfall was unreal…
Short Summary of The Hike
- Difficulty: Easy – Slightly Moderate
- Distance: Roughly 2 miles (.5 miles to the lower falls, .5 miles to the viewing platform above the falls)
- Photo Opportunities: Bastion Falls (waterfall at trailhead), lower falls area, base of the upper falls a little ways up from the lower falls, the viewing platform above the upper falls
- Note: there was a lot of ice, be careful not to slip on any rocks or frozen stairs
Palenville & The Trailhead
Driving along route 23A you will pass through a small town by the name of Palenville. As you keep moving along, you will end up on a beautiful scenic byway. It winds its way through the woods with small waterfalls and creeks on your flanks. As you near the parking area you will see Bastion Falls and this is where the trailhead starts. Just witnessing these falls from the car is a wonderful sight to see. Another minute up the road from Bastion Falls is the parking area. Please take note that to get to the trailhead, you will have to walk down route 23A and cross the road. The road is a bit windy so be sure to eye for any traffic! We absolutely cannot have Road Trip Warriors getting injured!
Bastion Falls – The Start of Your Trek
Immediately at the trailhead of the hike you encounter a rather appealing waterfall, Bastion Falls. The water falls about 70′ and has three drops within the waterfall itself. The sign-in sheet is by the falls and taking pictures of these falls is a must in my opinion.
You’ll hike along the right side of these falls following the trail markers. This is a rather developed trail with stairs and it is also heavily trafficked. For that reason, I am not going to delve into the trail itself, photos of signs along the trail, etc.
Lower Kaaterskill Falls
After an easy half-mile of hiking, you will be at the lower falls part of the hike. As you approach, if you are anything like me, you will find these falls impressive to say the least. The water was running heavily, crashing into the pools below them like thunder. The wind at the falls whipped mist in the air freezing the nearest plant-life. The icicles hanging around the upper falls seemed to shine. I recommend going around this time of year just to witness something as beautiful as this.
Continuing Along the Trail: Base of The Upper Falls
Right next to the lower falls, you will notice stairs that you will need to ascend to reach the upper falls. Not far up the stairs, to your left, will be a path to the pool of the upper falls. Unfortunately, this path was completely frozen and extremely slick. I did not have crampons with me so I decided that the pictures were not worth the risk of myself or my brother getting hurt. On the bright side, I was able to take a photo of the path with some frozen crystals in it!
The Viewing Platform Above The Upper Falls
After checking this area out you will continue onward to ascend up the stairs following the trail markers. The trail does level out not long after the stairs and some hiking. One of my favorite parts of this hike was the bridge we crossed before reaching the viewing platform.
After crossing this bridge, you will find a sign pointing in the direction of the viewing platform. From the viewing platform, you are rewarded with an impressive vantage point of the upper falls of Kaaterskill Falls. It is worth the mile hike, I promise.
As you can see, these falls are quite amazing. In fact, this picture does do Kaaterskill Falls the justice it deserves. So go visit! Just make sure to follow leave no trace principles!
This is self-explanatory as you will go back the way the same way you hiked in. There are other trails in the area that go off of this trail if you wish to explore further.
This hike is dog-friendly and I did see dogs on this trail. Please keep them close there are drop-offs near the base of the upper-falls if you decide to go there.
This hike is definitely family friendly. It is a well-developed and highly-trafficked trail. With a distance of only two miles round trip, it is very doable. Children would definitely marvel at the sight of these tall falls.
Gear Brought & Clothes Worn
I will keep this concise since it is a short hike. I brought a liter of water, some snacks, extra layers for the cold, and a first-aid kit. I dressed in warm attire since it is now heading towards winter. Just make sure you dress appropriately for the weather and have some water and snacks. A first-aid kit is always a good item to carry as well no matter how easy and short the hike.
The falls area was purchased in the 1820s by Peter Schutt where he built a platform and cabin at the top. Up here, refreshments were sold to visitors. In 1852, Schutt added a 50-visitor boarding house and named it the Laurel House. During the 19th century, many people visited Kaaterskill Falls. Among these individuals were painters, poets, and writers. Due to this, the Laurel House increased its size in 1881 to hold 300 visitors.
The Laurel House was closed in 1963. The NYSDEC bought the building and falls in 1965. The hotel burned in 1967 and now only parts of its rock foundation remain.
I hope you found this helpful and enjoyed the pictures. Kaaterskill Falls was absolutely worth the drive. These falls have an interesting history and it is easy see why painters, writers, and poets traveled here to spark creativity. Keep on adventuring Road Trip Warriors and keep those trails clean!
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