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10 Best Waterfalls Hiking Trails in the U.S.

| Updated Apr 18, 2024

Waterfalls are always a highlight of any hike. Here are 10 of our favorite waterfalls hiking trails in America…

Are you interested in seeing some impressive waterfalls this year? If there is one thing I know, America is a great place to find spectacular waterfalls.

Not only are waterfalls breathtaking but their spray is so refreshing after a good hike.

As you plan some new fun adventures to go on, be sure to schedule in some of America's best waterfalls!

10 Favorite Waterfalls Hiking Trails

Niagara Falls Waterfalls Hiking Trails
Niagara Falls

While you can hike to many waterfalls year-round, late spring, early summer kicks off nationwide hiking season in most regions. Warmer temperatures are causing the snowmelt to turn into runoff that produces full, flowing waterfalls that are a feast for the eyes.

The following are some of the best waterfalls hiking trails in America.

1. Niagara Falls – Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls, New York, and the surrounding area is a very popular destination and provide a gorgeous backdrop for miles of trails for the whole family to enjoy.

Niagara Falls is most definitely one of the most famous waterfalls in America, if not the world. Located near the border of New York state and Canada, these falls can be enjoyed in many ways. It's no surprise it's at the top of our RV Lifestyle Community's Bucket List.

There are many hiking options you can choose from if visiting the area. You may want to start at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead Building. This visitor center is the gateway to several different hiking trails.

A short hike can take you to a great overlook of the falls. It takes approximately one hour, round trip. It is great for all ability levels, without any difficult climbing.

Of course, you will still want to wear sturdy shoes and stay on the path.

There are also a few other hikes in the area to consider if you want to do more hiking.

  • Family Friendly Option: Town of Lockport Nature Trail – a 40-minute drive from the falls
  • Beginner's Hike: Goat Island Scenic Walk – Two-mile hike allows one to enjoy spectacular views from the base of the falls. You can view Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls along the way
  • Medium Ability Hike: Devil's Hole – This incredible hike is 2.5-miles taking you through the gorge and starts at the Devil's Hole State Park parking lot
  • Advanced Hiker's Path: Whirlpool Rapids Adventure Hike – Advanced hike on Niagara Gorge Rim Trail where you can view Whirlpool State Park

2. Buttermilk Falls – Ithaca, New York

Buttermilk Falls State Park is home to Buttermilk Falls. It is a series of cascades creating what looks like buttermilk as it flows down a steep valley not far from Cayuga Lake.

Located in the Finger Lakes region, you can enjoy many wooded hikes in the area. The Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail is a difficult 0.65-mile trip trek that takes you past various landscapes. View deep pools, water-sculpted rock formations, including Pinnacle Rock, and several different waterfalls.

3. Crabtree Falls – Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Located along the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, the Crabtree Falls Hiking Trail is a popular spot not to be missed.

This moderate to strenuous hike takes up inclines and rocky parts from the parking area from the scenic 2.5-mile loop from the parking area. You'll want to give yourself a couple of hours to complete the hike.

The falls are located about 0.9 miles in. There you can see a 60-foot falling water spectacle. Then enjoy lunch at the picnic area afterward.

4. Linville Falls – Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Waterfalls Hiking Trails linville falls
Linville Falls

Another wonderful, cascading waterfall in the Blue Ridge Parkway area. Often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians,” you can bestow a three-tiered waterfall that plunges into the Linville Gorge below.

The good news is that there are three different ways to see it!

You can view these falls via an easy hike of a 1.6-mile round trip. Just choose the Falls Trail.

You can take the 1-mile round trip Plunge Basin Trail for moderate hikers.

Finally, if you are after something a bit more challenging, use the Gorge Trail. It is 1.4-miles long and considered strenuous.

You can also take along your pet, but they must be leashed.

5. Long Creek Falls – Appalachian Trail, Chattahoochee National Forest, near Suches, Georgia

You can get to Long Creek Falls via the Appalachian Trail. It is a heavily trafficked 1.9-mile out-and-back trek not far from Suches, Georgia.

It is an okay trial for all ability levels. Pets are welcome but must be leashed.

6. Hemlock Falls – Georgia

Hemlock Falls tumbles over a sheer cliff rock face into a whitewater pool below.

To view them, use the Hemlock Falls Trail at Lake Burton. The 2-mile round trip hike is friendly and relatively moderate.

7. Havasu Falls – Grand Canyon, Arizona

This Havasu Creek waterfall is located inside the Grand Canyon National Park. This 10-mile trek is strenuous and not for the faint of heart.

It also requires advanced planning since you will need a permit and reservation to visit the falls ahead of time. It is more than a day-trip hike and is recommended for experienced hikers.

8. Yosemite Falls – Yosemite National Park, California

Waterfalls Hiking Trails yosemite falls
Yosemite Falls

Are you visiting Yosemite National Park? While there, you can hike to see Yosemite Falls, the sixth highest waterfall in the country.

The total height of this sixth tallest waterfall is 2,425 feet (739 meters).

Choose to hike to Columbia Rock, a 2-mile round trip, moderate trek. Plan for about 2-3 hours to complete this hike.

Or, continue to the top of the falls, a 7.2 round trip. It is strenuous, and you want to give yourself about 6-8 hours for this hike.

9. Horsetail Falls – Sierra Nevada Mountains, west of Lake Tahoe, California

Horsetail Falls is a tumbling 500-foot drop over a series of intermittent cliffs.

Hike to see them using the Twin Bridges Trailhead on US Route 50. It is a 4-mile, heavily trafficked trail rated “difficult.”

It is best to do this hike between May and October. It is also a pet-friendly hike, but pets must be on a leash.

10. Multnomah Falls – Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Multnomah Falls Waterfalls Hiking Trails
Multnomah Falls

The 30-foot Multnomah Falls is located on Multnomah Creek in the Columbia River Gorge that serves as a landmass border between Oregon and Washington states.

You can easily view the tall waterfall with a short walk from the parking lot (and under the highway). It is paved and accessible for all ability levels.

You can take a short hike to a viewing area for more scenic views. Or continue hiking to the top of the falls. It can be considered a difficult hike since it is very steep.

Related Waterfalls Hiking Trails Articles

For more waterfalls to add to your itinerary, check out these waterfall-loving articles:

What are your favorite waterfall hiking trails?

Let us know in the comments!

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2024-04-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

13 Responses to “10 Best Waterfalls Hiking Trails in the U.S.”

February 14, 2022at7:31 am, Mark ULM said:

Thank you for not mentioning the plethora of falls between Duluth, MN and the Canadian border. They are already inundated with hikers during the peak tourist season and during Fall colors.


February 13, 2022at6:16 pm, David Krall said:

Ricketts Glen State Park in Northeastern PA has 22 waterfalls.


February 15, 2022at8:56 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Great suggestion!


February 13, 2022at3:35 pm, Richard Rosin said:

Loved your waterfall hikes. There are some others in upstate NY, actually quite close to each other. Ithaca NY has bumper stickers saying it is a “Gorges” town, a bunch of very big waterfalls all around the area besides Buttermilk Falls. Five Mile creek is a beauty, right in town. Taughannock Falls state park has the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi. Higher than Niagara Falls. If you want a little more of back country hike, there is Lick Brook nature preserve with 2 beautiful falls.
There is Watkins Glen state Park, not big water falls, but one of the most popular state parks in the US. A beautiful hike up a gorge with many water features, carved out of the rock, by the stream.
Then the granddady of them all, The “Grand Canyon of the East”, Letchworth State Park. The Genesee River flows through a canyon of 800 ft vertical rock walls with 3 major waterfalls.
Come to The Finger Lakes area of upstate NY for Waterfalls. Also, this is a major wine growing region, with wineries everywhere for tasting some of the best wine in the US.


February 15, 2022at8:55 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for the input. Sounds like we might not be done with blogs about waterfalls. 🙂


February 13, 2022at12:15 pm, Russ Smith said:

Multnomah Falls is a wee bit taller than 30 ft…….”The falls drops in two major steps, split into an upper falls of 542 feet (165 m) and a lower falls of 69 feet (21 m), with a gradual 9 foot (3 m) drop in elevation between the two, so the total height of the waterfall is conventionally given as 620 feet (189 m).”
In 1995 a “big as a schoolbus”, 400 ton slab fell 200+ ft off the upper cliff’s wall into the upper pool, creating a 70 ft wave that injured 20 people in a wedding party standing on the footbridge seen in the photo above.


February 15, 2022at8:55 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Very interesting.


February 13, 2022at11:34 am, Peter Grealis said:

I highly recommend Watkins Glen Park, New York, 19 water falls and a beautiful 2 mile gorge to walk, it is breath taking.


February 15, 2022at8:53 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

It sounds amazing. Thanks for the suggestion!


February 13, 2022at10:51 am, Sharon Potter said:

All of your 10 Best Waterfall Hikes are great, but like all your lists, heavily weighted to east of the Mississippi. Good Lord, there are so many great waterfalls out west…you listed a few. I won’t list for you the many incredible iconic falls in the can look them up. And I would challenge you to visit Silver Falls State Park near Silverton, Oregon. A seven mile canyon hike where you can see, up close and even walk behind, 10 waterfalls…several quite tall.


February 15, 2022at8:52 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for the input. We will keep this in mind.


February 13, 2022at7:49 am, Gary Kornstein said:

You may want to add the Falls loop ( 7.2 miles ) in Ricketts Glen State park ( PA ) where you’ll see 21 different waterfalls . Each is named and described ( by type and height ) in the brochure available at the park. If seven miles sounds a bit daunting , you can see most of them on a smaller 3 1/2 mile loop. Either way the trail is fairly smooth crushed gravel making this a fairly easy hike.with the most falls per steps taken that I’ve ever come across.


February 15, 2022at8:50 am, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Thanks for the suggestion!


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