15 of the Best Waterfall Hikes in the US: The Happy Hiker’s Guide


There’s nothing like hearing the roar of water deep into a beautiful hiking trail. That moment when a misty waterfall first comes into view can be breathtaking and make even the most grueling trails worth the trek. Some can only be admired from a short distance, and some invite you in to swim and play in its cool waters. No matter what part of the country you find yourself in, you won’t be too far from a waterfall hike that’s sure to leave you awe-struck by the power and beauty of mother nature. Here are a few of the best hiking trails with waterfalls across the U.S. 

15 Best Waterfall Hikes in the US 

All across the country, there are countless waterfall hikes worth exploring. Here are 15 of the best hiking trails with waterfalls in the United States. 

1. Arethusa Falls, NH 

Located within Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire, Arethusa cascades over a contested 160-200 feet in the White Mountains. While the exact height is unknown, this waterfall is big and picturesque and a must-see in the New England area. Hike 1.5 miles to the falls over rocks and roots. The elevation gain is about 900 feet. Regular hikers will find the journey to be a relative breeze, but for those who don’t hike often, plan to take a little extra time to get there. Go early in the season for the heaviest flow. 

2. Kaaterskill Falls, NY 

The Kaaterskill Falls actually plummet twice at a combined height of over 250 feet in the Catskills mountains. The hike to the perfect view can be a little strenuous due to the relentless elevation gain that ends in more than 100 stairs to the observation deck. But this trail is only 2.6 miles long out and back and starts (or ends) at Bastion Falls — a bonus waterfall! 

3. Ganoga Falls, PA 

Ricketts Glen State Park is loaded with hiking trails with waterfalls and is a must-visit for falls lovers anywhere near the area. A little more than a 3-mile loop of the highland trail, Glen Leigh, and Ganoga Glen sides of the falls trail will take you past 18 of the 21 falls in the park. If you are ready to experience the full Falls trail and all 21 drops, the loop will be 7 miles long. Ganoga Falls is the jewel of the park at almost 100 feet tall. 

4. Cascade Falls, VA 

Cascade Falls Trails makes the list as one of the best waterfalls hikes for the winding path that follows a creek to the viewing platform for these falls. At almost 70 feet, this waterfall is certainly not one of the highest in the U.S., but it is an unforgettable sight surrounded by giant cliffs stretching 200 feet high. The trail is only 4 miles long and easy to moderate in difficulty. Plan for about two hours to go out and back and enjoy the lush Jefferson National Forest. 

5. Ramsey Cascades, TN 

The depths of green you experience while on a waterfall hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park are unlike anywhere else. Ramsey Cascades is the tallest and most spectacular of the falls in the park and the trail to get there is very challenging with over 2000 feet of elevation gain over 4 miles (8 miles round-trip). If the trek is too difficult for you or your group, try the trail to Rainbow Falls at only 5.4 miles round-trip and a little less elevation. Watch for the rainbows on a sunny day.   

6. Cumberland Falls, KY 

Cumberland Falls is only 68 feet tall, but this wide waterfall looks like a miniature Niagara Falls lending it the nickname “the Niagara of the South.” This waterfall really roars loud as water pours over the edge of the sandstone cliff. Visitors lucky enough to experience these falls under a full moon have reported sightings of a moonbow — one of two naturally occurring moonlight rainbows in the entire world. The trail is only 0.5 miles from the Dupont Lodge, but explore more of the park once you’ve gotten your fill of the falls. 

7. Bond Falls, MI 

Bond Falls is a highly-accessible trail to beautiful falls in the Midwest. Make a stop to visit this road trip attraction when you have a chance to visit the Upper Peninsula. The 0.9-mile loop is easy and has multiple viewing areas and even 600 feet of boardwalk for a leisurely stroll. Everyone can and should take the time to get out, stretch their legs, and see a unique and sprawling waterfall. 

8. Bridal Veil Falls, CO

Bridal Veil Falls are among the most popular falls in Colorado and with good reason. The falls plunge 365 feet weather permitting and the winter sees the falls freeze entirely into an ice climber's paradise. The hike is 1.8 miles long each way and moderately difficult due to over 1500 feet of elevation gain. The new trail that goes to the bottom of the falls is a little more than a mile but is extremely challenging with a dangerous water crossing in spring and early summer. 

9. St. Mary Falls, MT 

You hear St. Mary Falls about a quarter-mile before you actually reach them on the trail in Glacier National Park. This waterfall drops in three sections and is one of the most beautiful in the park. The trail is about 1.7 miles long from the shuttle stop or two miles from the St. Mary’s Trailhead. If one waterfall is not enough to satiate your craving for a waterfall hike, continue about one mile further to see Virginia Falls dropping about 50 feet. Carefully approach the bottom to feel the blast of cool mist on a hot, hot day. 

10. Havasu Falls, AZ

Unlike many of the other falls on this list, Havasu Falls is not exactly a road trip attraction. Plan far ahead to get a permit to visit and a spot in the campground so you can safely tackle this 10-mile desert hike to the stunning Havasu Falls. The water color is a perfect blue-green and the temperature stays at 70 degrees all year long. The overnight waterfall hike is worth it to see these spectacular falls against the reddish Arizona desert backdrop.  

11. Vernal Falls & Nevada Falls, CA

Yosemite National Park has many attractions that bring over 3 million visitors each year. One of the best hiking trails with waterfalls in the park. There are options for hikers at all levels here. To see Vernal Fall, you can take a short 1.6-mile round-trip hike to a footbridge that provides excellent views. Hike a total of 2.4 miles round-trip to get to the top of Vernal Fall (and double the amount of elevation gain) for even better views. Hike further (5.4 total miles) to reach the top of Nevada Falls (and double the elevation gain again) which plummets almost 600 feet. Spring and summer are the best times to see them in their full glory and to get the best photographs.  

12. Alamere Falls, CA

Alamere Falls is a unique waterfall located inside the Phillip Burton Wilderness. Be prepared to hike as the trip is 13 miles round-trip but this spot can be a crowded and popular destination despite the long distances. This waterfall drops over a 40-foot cliff onto Wildcat Beach. Picnic near the falls on the beach for ocean and waterfall views. Nothing else quite compares. 

13. Silver Falls State Park, OR

Oregon has no shortage of incredible waterfalls, but Silver Falls State Park is one of the best places to go to get some bang for your buck. Take the Trail of Ten Falls through the dense northwestern forest for a 7.2-mile moderate loop. Each of the waterfalls on this trail is beautiful in its own right so expect to spend at least 5-6 hours on the trail to leave ample time to take it all in. 

14. Multnomah Falls, OR 

More than 2 million visitors come to Multnomah Falls each year for one of the best waterfall hikes in the area. To the top of the falls and back down again is only 2.4 miles, but there are plenty of additional trails for hikers looking for more of a workout. Only 30 minutes from Portland, Multnomah Falls drops more than 600 feet to form an awe-inspiring sight that is beautiful year-round due to an underground spring, rainwater, and snow melt that feed the falls constantly. 

15. Snoqualmie Falls, WA

Just east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls also attracts a large number of visitors annually not just because it was featured on the TV series Twin Peaks. These falls are 268 feet tall (twice the height of Niagara) and require only a short 1.4-mile round-trip hike to see. The forest is characteristic of the Pacific Northwest — full of moss and ferns and the roar of the falls carries throughout.  

Take to the road to string together several amazing hiking trails with waterfalls into one flowing vacation. If you’re ready to travel in style, visit a Cruise America location near you to rent an RV designed to comfortably carry you to the waterfall trailheads of your dreams. Each Cruise America RV rental is an adventure-ready home-away-from-home that will take you and yours deep into nature without the feeling of roughing it. Start today at CruiseAmerica.com to find your nearest RV center.