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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Kaaterskill Falls (summer) Hike - Catskills, New York

Kaaterskill Falls

The first time we hiked Kaaterskill Falls was late March.  Snow fell on the higher elevations overnight and when we walked to the trailhead, there was a perfect white coating of snow on the ground.  We had microspikes and beanies, layers and gloves as we made our way along the trail and up to the top of the icey falls.  It was also just a few weeks into knowing Adam, less than a month when I casually suggested I had a weekend booked at a dog-friendly tiny house in the Catskills and if you wanted to come, you know, it could be fun (or weird, who knew). 

Turns out, it was an amazing idea and four months later, we were back at the same trailhead with the same happy dogs, this time in shorts and a t-shirt and lots of sunscreen. Fast forward again to 2023 and we were hiking the same trail with two kids and our two dogs in tow. It's the perfect kid-friendly hike that offers a big view for a relatively short hike. I'm looking forward to recreating this hike as the kids grow up and the years roll by.

Hiking the Laurel House Road Trail (August 2023)

Kaaterskill falls is a popular hike any time of year, and in summer it can be a mob season. But if you go early enough (before 8am on a Sunday), you can have solitude, sunshine, and the amazing misty spray all to yourself. As we sat there at the bottom of the falls, reminiscing on that March trip, comparing and contrasting the "Then and Now" of the falls in the season, we made a sort of pact. A pact to make it out to this waterfall at least once a year, best to be experienced at least once in all four of the seasons.

Kaaterskill Falls July - Observation Deck (June 2019)

Kaaterskill Falls Observation Deck (March 2019)

This hike is a perfect trek in all four seasons due to its easily accessible nature and short distance.  The hike clocks in at 3-miles round trip to the top of the falls and back (much shorter if you just go to the base and back).  It is family-friendly, dog-friendly, and offers some amazing views of the waterfall and the valley below.  A wonderland in the winter, an oasis in the summer, and I can't wait to report back on this pretty little spot in the fall.  

Kaaterskill Falls View from the Observation Deck (August 2023)

Kaaterskill Falls View from the Observation Deck (July 2019)

Kaaterskill Falls March - View from the Observation Deck (March 2019)

*In the last two years, the parking area and main trail area has moved*
The old parking area and trailhead was off Route 23. Thankfully, they moved it to the much quieter Laurel House Road. The crossed out information is the old information for the old parking area that is now closed. The new area information is below. 

Parking: Parking lot off Laurel House Road. It does fill up fast, anticipate it filling up by 9am during the summer/weekend. Trust me on this one....

Distance: 1.6-ish miles round trip from the trailhead to the top viewing platform and down to the base of the waterfall. The trail is well marked with a lot of signage. It is also a busy trail so do not expect to have it to yourself. You can find a copy of the trail map here.

Dog-friendly: Yes! On-leash

Get There Early:  This is a very popular spot in the Catskills - if you don't like crowds, get there early. If you want parking, get there early.

Danger: There have been a number of deaths at the falls due to hikers and photo enthusiasts getting too close to the falls for a photo.  As the falls have increased in popularity so has the number of hikers who have visited the falls.  The short trail length also opens up the trail to a lot of different user groups.  While the exposed areas are roped off, some people feel that the rules to do not apply to them.  Throw in steep cliffs with slick mossy areas and you can see how accidents can happen here.  Stay within the trail bounds and respect mother nature. 

Parking:  Parking for Kaaterskill (from the base) is off Route 23 about 1/4 mile past the Kaaterskill Falls trailhead (at the base of Bastion Falls).  Space here is limited and parking here requires walking down busy Route 23A (no sidewalk, barely any shoulder) to the beginning of the Kaaterskill Trail.  The road is winding, very narrow and the speed limit is a mere suggestion to speeding tourists.

Trail: From the trailhead off Route 23A (at the base of Bastion Falls at the hairpin turn in the road), follow the yellow trail along Spruce Creek to the base of Kaaterskill Falls.  At the base of the falls, continue up the stairs and keep following the yellow trail until you reach the upper area.  From here, you will cross the bridge and follow the signs for the Observation Platform.  From here, you have a great view of the falls from above Trail Map.

Distance: 3 miles RT (from the parking lot, walking down 23A, to the base of the falls, up to the observation platform, and back). 

Kaaterskill Falls Observation Deck (July 2019)

Kaaterskill Falls Observation Deck (March 2019)

Kaaterskill Falls Trail (July 2019)

Kaaterskill Falls (March 2019)

Bridge to Kaaterskill Falls Observation Deck (July 2019)

Bridge to Kaaterskill Falls Observation Deck (Aug 2023)

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