For a relaxing, memorable family outing, take a visit to see one of nature’s greatest wonders…the waterfall. There’s one near you!
I have a soft spot for waterfalls. I find myself awed by their beauty and at the same time relaxed from the sound and sight of cascading water. Hikes with waterfalls are often my favorite, although sometimes I’ll be in the mood of sitting at a waterfall without the effort of a hike.
Here are some of my favorite waterfalls in New York and New Jersey. I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t visited. I will share a few of my experiences. Best of all, all these waterfalls have free entrance.
It is important to note that there are many parks and nature areas that are limiting the amount of cars and people entering because of Covid19. It is advisable to head out early. For more hike ideas or waterfalls in other areas visit beentheredonethattrips.com
Ramapo Valley Reservations: Mahwah, NJ
Ramapo Valley Reservation is a popular nature walking and hiking area. There are many lakes, a river and a waterfall that runs alongside one of the paths.
I like to enter the trail from the far corner of the parking lot, the corner closest to the yellow service house. I follow the path over the bridge and continue alongside a beautiful lake. At the end of the lake you can either turn right and continue around the lake or continue straight on an uphill path to the scenic reservoir up on top. The hike to the top is not very long, but since it is uphill, it is not very easy.
About halfway to the reservoir there is a waterfall on the side of the path. There are narrow foot paths allowing access to the waterfalls. In the summer there are often people swimming in the cool refreshing water in a pool in middle of the waterfall. It is possible to take a stroller on the path (not down to the waterfall) but I would not recommend it since it is all uphill and would be difficult to push.
Address: 608 Ramapo Valley Rd. Mahwah, NJ 07430
Phone Number: 201-327-3500
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 20 minutes
Paterson Great Falls: Paterson, NJ
Who would believe that a 77 foot high waterfall calls itself home within the industrial city of Paterson, NJ? When visiting this majestic waterfall, you can almost imagine that you are in some remote state park for all the beauty it affords. The Parking lot is across from the falls with picnic tables and some grass. There is an access bridge and walkway that takes you right near the falls, where you can enjoy it from up close. There are benches spread around near the path. It is a beautiful area to walk and enjoy nature and it is not strenuous at all.
Parking for Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park: 72 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07501
Phone Number: (973) 523-0370
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 45 min
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 35 min
Philipstown Garrison, NY
On an unseasonably warm day in the beginning of November, I had an urge to sit by a scenic waterfall. I didn’t have time for a hike, so I looked for a place that has a parking lot close by. I came across Philipstown Park in Garrison, NY. The park itself was mostly just a sports field.
The path to the waterfall began at the far end of the parking lot, near a sign reading “Trail of Trees”. The path was covered with fallen leaves and was hard to follow. It led to a basketball court. Diagonally across the court was the entrance to the path to the waterfall. We stopped to listen, and could already hear the waterfall. The path went downhill with steps made of cut tree branches and leads to the waterfall. Since there were many leaves and many recent rainstorms, the path was very slippery. On the way down, we enjoyed beautiful views of the nearby mountains. This path was also not easy to follow due to the many leaves but we managed. I’m not sure if the path continues all the way down to the bottom of the waterfall since we stopped at a spot from which we were able to see the waterfall, after about five minutes of walking, just before the path seemed more dangerous. Our view was partially blocked by trees but even so it was beautiful.
The waterfall – actually there were two falls, and they were magnificent. I’m not sure if the second one was there because of the recent volume of rain or if it had always been always there. The area was quiet and secluded. It was serene and peaceful – just what I needed.
Address: 1239 NY-9D Garrison, NY 10524
Hours: 8 am – Dusk
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 2 hours
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 40minutes
Minnewaska State Park: Kerhonkson, NY
Minnewaska is a stunning park set on the dramatic Shawangunk Mountain Ridge. The park features 21,106 acres of land that contain numerous breathtaking waterfalls, dense hardwood forests, cliffs and ledges opening to beautiful views including the nearby Catskills Mountains.
Lake Minnewaska, Lake Awosting, and Mud Pond are three sky lakes that are found within the preserve. Clear streams cut into valleys throughout the park. There are twenty five miles of footpaths on which to bike, walk, hike or to simply enjoy the spectacular views.
We went to the Minnewaska early in the summer season and took a short hike down to the waterfall (the path is on the left of the parking lot) and the children enjoyed swimming and wading in the water below. When we went back a different year on a summer Sunday afternoon the area of the waterfall was full of people.
Address: 5281 Route 44 55, Kerhonkson, NY 12446-3545
Phone Number: (845) 255-0752
Hours: 9 am to 7 pm
Price: $10 per vehicle for parking
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Verkeederkill Falls: Sam’s Point, Cragsmoor, NY
Verkeederkill Falls is a also part of Minnewaska State Park but is in a totally different area. In order to get to the Verkeederkill Falls you first need to take the Fat Trail path to Sam’s Point: a magnificent rock outcrop with magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s definitely worth a stop.
On a recent trip, after enjoying the most breathtaking views at Sam’s Point we continued on to Verkeederkill Falls. The trail to Verkeederkill Falls was not a carriage road but a rocky nature trail with beautiful views of the surrounding areas. The path did not ascend or descend much and wasn’t especially difficult. The path took us over the rocks at the top of the waterfall to get to the other side of the waterfall to get a view of the falls. We were awed by the 187 foot tall waterfall cascading over the rocky ledge. We sat on the rocks and enjoyed the view of the waterfall and the surrounding mountains before doing the 2.1 mile hike in reverse until we met up with the carriage road that took us back down to the parking lot. The woman who answered the information line at Sam’s Point advised us to count on 4 hours out and back to Verkeederkill Falls (I’m amazed at how well the phone line is manned by the helpful guides). I think that was indeed the amount of time we needed to complete the hike.
Address: 400 Sam’s Point Road, Cragsmoor, NY 12420
Phone Number: (845) 647-7989
Hours: Sam’s Point opens at 9:00 am and closing times vary throughout the year.
Price: $10 per vehicle for parking
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Kaaterskill Falls: Hunter, NY
A few years ago we went to Hunter Mountain and the surrounding area. We passed Bastion Falls and stopped there for a bit. We didn’t have time to hike to Kaaterskill Falls. We finally made it back there recently. I was not disappointed, it was as magnificent as I anticipated and then some. The waterfalls were full from the recent rain.
There are multiple parking lots that have trails that lead to the Falls. We parked on Rte 23A, a five minute walk up the road from the trailhead at Bastian Falls. The moderate level half-mile uphill trail alongside a babbling brook leads to the bottom of the 260 foot, two tiered Kaaterskill Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in New York. (They are currently doing work on the 23A lot. Check online which parking lots are open.)
After stopping for lunch, we continued up many stairs to the middle area of the Falls. We enjoyed a magnificent close-up view. The mist from the waterfall was cool and refreshing. We met many people who parked on top and were heading down. We climbed on and crossed over to the lookout above the Falls. There is a parking lot a couple of minutes’ walk to the lookout. We were lucky to get a ride back down to our car so we did not have to hike back. (The car ride down took seven minutes.)
Address: NY-23A, Haines Falls, NY 12436
Hours: Open 24 hours
Approximate Distance from Brooklyn Bridge: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Approximate Distance from Lakewood: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Approximate Distance from Monsey: 1 hour, 30 minutes