Two Tiered Kaaterskills Falls (Catskills, NY)

Kaaterskill Falls is one of the most popular two-tiered waterfall in the Catskills. This is because it’s the tallest double waterfall in New York, and it’s pretty easy to get to. With multiple trails, the falls can be accessed from both above, below and the middle tier.

After visiting, I suggest starting from the top, getting the full view. Then continue to the very bottom and finishing off in the middle. The middle tier was the most swimmable and picturesque.

If you want to start from the top, the parking lot is located near Haines Falls, New York, at the end of Laurel House Road (off of North Lake Road). The parking lot was pretty busy, but we were able to find a spot within a few minutes. 

There are other lots that will give you access to the falls but some are currently closed. I will list them at the very bottom.

From the Laurel House Road parking lot, it’s only 0.3 miles to the upper viewing platform. The trails to the platform are wide and flat, making it a easy walk. There are plenty of directional signs to follow, so you can’t really get lost.

Once you finish viewing the falls from the platform, I’d suggest walking past the informational sign you’ll see past the platform to get a closer look of the very top of the falls. Just be careful because there are no barriers to stop you from falling.

Now that you have taken in all the beautiful views from above, make your way back to the marked trails to begin your hike down to the lower falls. Once you cross a small bridge, the trail enters the woods and gets a bit more difficult. You’ll approach a set of directional signs that will lead you off to the right. This is where you start heading downward. From the point you cross the bridge until you reach the base of the falls, it’s about a .5 mile hike with a 300-foot elevation loss.

It’s not that bad going down, but just remember you have to follow that trail back up to get to the parking lot. I was definitely out of breath uphill.

After your downhill hike through the scenic woods, you’ll reach another intersection in the trail. You’ll want to head down the steps to take you to the base of the falls. Heading straight will take you to the middle level. I definitely suggest saving the best (middle level) for last.

After taking the steps down, you do have to navigate your way to the lower falls landing. You might have to climb some rocks so make sure you wear good sneakers. Water shoes are also necessary once you get to the falls since it’s all rocky.

From the Laurel House Road parking lot, it’s only 0.3 miles to the upper viewing platform. The trails to the platform are wide and flat, making it a easy walk. There are plenty of directional signs to follow, so you can’t really get lost.

Remember those steps down? Well now you have to climb back up. This is also why I suggest going all the way down first then making your way back up stopping at the middle tier. It’s a bit of work going up all those steps in the heat (especially with a mask on). So break it up by stopping at the middle tier.

The middle tier is the most popular, so be ready to share the views with a crowd. My husband and I went on a Wednesday at around 3:30pm and it was crowded but we were still able to get spot away from people, on top of a rock. As the day went by it started to empty out a bit more. We stayed til around 5:30pm.

The middle tier was definitely my favorite spot! It has the most impressive views with a taller waterfall than the lower tier. I also loved that I was able to get behind the falls. It was really unique to see the falls from that perspective. If you’re brave enough to do the same, there’s a rocky, steep, dirt path to the left of the falls, that will give you access to behind the waterfall. Just be VERY cautious since it’s mostly dirt and rocks. Again, there are no barriers to keep you from falling.

Make sure you stay hydrated and have food to fuel up for the trek back uphill to the parking lot. It may have seemed easy to get down but it’s work getting back up!

Like I stated before, there are multiple lots to access the trails. I’ll list them down below:

  • Laurel House Road parking lot. It’s the quickest to the top of the falls.
  • Scutt Road parking lot
  • Molly Smith parking lot – Currently closed for trail construction.
  • Kaaterskill Falls Trail from NY 23A to the base of the lower falls – Currently closed for trail construction.

For the most up to date info on trail openings, check New York States website.  Their website also gives you more info on other trails/parking lots and a background on the Kaaterskills.

I hope you love your trip to the falls as much as I did!

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For more photos/videos from my trip, visit my Instagram page!

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@wanderlissa_

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 *All photos are mine, unless otherwise stated

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