© 2000 Jon Binder
Ratings (ratings explained)
Ease of Access: 8/10
Spectacular 260-foot Kaaterskill Falls is located in the northeastern Catskills, just 1/2 mile from NY 23A. 30-foot (est.) Bastion Falls, visible from the road, is also in this area.
Kaaterskill Falls in high water
The trail to Kaaterskill Falls is located on NYS route 23A, near Palenville and Haines Falls (NY 23A is most easily reached from Thruway - I-87 - exit 21). Traveling from east to west, 3.4 miles from the intersection of NY 23A and NY 32A in Palenville, is Bastion Falls and the start of the Kaaterskill Falls Trail at a bridge. Parking is 0.2 miles further ahead, on the left (south) side of the road. This point is 1.3 miles from the intersection of NY 23A and North Lake Rd. (Greene County Rt. 18).
From the parking area, walk back to the trailhead at Bastion Falls. This takes less than five minutes; be careful for cars.
The trail starts somewhat steeply along the stream. Small waterfalls are passed at the start, and are definitely worth checking out for pictures. Then, the grade eases, with the trail mostly staying near the stream. Some areas along Kaaterskill Creek are indeed very beautiful. The way is fairly rocky and eroded. Soon, the water is not as close for a distance, but when the trail returns to it, you are at Kaaterskill Falls. The trail officially ends at this point.
This is the highest two-tiered waterfall in New York State. Its upper tier measures an impressive 175 feet, while its lower tier is 85 feet tall. The falls are truly spectacular, explaining the fact that this is a very popular area - one of the best visited locations in the Catskills. Don't expect to be alone here, unless perhaps you go on a weekday when it's raining.
Water level varies significantly at Kaaterskill Falls. This photo was taken in early June, when the water was at a fairly high level. In late summer, the water flow can reduce to a trickle, or even virtually dry up completely.
The falls are best appreciated from a distance, where the entire scene can be taken in. There used to be a trail that climbed to the top of the falls, but it is now officially closed and unmantained. Deaths and injuries have occurred here, so do be careful. However, with great difficulty and care, it is possible to climb to the base of the upper tier. This is a particularly nice area, as the overhanging rock of the upper falls creates a large ampitheater like area behind the falls. Also, there is a beautiful pool before the water continues its course over the lower tier of Kaaterskill Falls.
Be careful: remember the falls look the best from the very bottom.
Right at the trailhead, and visible from NY 23A, is Bastion Falls. This falls, in my estimation about 30 feet high, makes a trip to the area worthwile itself (at least when the water isn't a trickle). To some, this falls, though much less spectacular, is better than Kaaterskill Falls itself. The smaller falls above Bastion Falls also deserve exploration.
<< Back to List of New York Waterfalls
Page Last Revised: February 20, 2002