Must See: 5 Hikes With Stunning Waterfall Vistas
If you’re glued to these words right now, chances are you’re in on the secret: TLC didn’t quite nail it when they talked about not chasing waterfalls. But fear not, because we’re here to shout from the mountaintops (or waterfalls!) that these natural wonders are totally worth the chase!
Picture this: water flowing like it’s auditioning for a role in an action movie, tumbling down cliffs like a stunt double on a mission. And oh boy, that symphony of crashing waves and echoing splashes? It’s like a rock concert hosted by H2O itself! Yup, waterfalls aren’t just a show, they’re a cosmic dance of Mother Nature flexing her muscles.
So, whether you’re up for the top-tier view, the backstage pass underneath, or even sneaking a peek from behind the curtain of a majestic waterfall, guess what? We’ve got your adventure itch covered. We’ve cooked up a menu of the most epic hikes in the United States where jaw-dropping waterfalls are the superstars stealing the whole darn show!
Hidden within remote red cliffs and caverns of the Grand Canyon lies an isolated paradise known for its aquamarine cascading waterfalls and travertine pools. Havasu Canyon, a precious and vigorously protected area, sits at the top of every adventurous backpackers’ bucket list.
Merely reaching the trailhead of this desert gem requires patience, planning, and a little bit of luck though. The Havasupai Tribe is intimately connected to these crystalline waters and regulate the region to make sure it’s well-respected.
Keep in mind, this trail isn’t necessarily for beginner backpackers. Summer temps can reach up to 115 degrees, the terrain is unpredictable, and emergency facilities are very few and far between. It’s important to properly prepare and know the risks associated with a trip to the dazzling falls that decorate Havasu Creek.
Visitors flock to Yosemite National Park each year to experience the illustrious 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls. And, rightfully so, Yosemite Falls isn’t only one of the tallest waterfalls in the country—it’s a bonafide California icon.
The falls thrive in spring and early summer, and the incredible amount of mist (hence the name) from the waterfalls can be a pleasant treat on a hot summer day. Just watch your footing—wet granite can make this trek pretty slippery at times.
The Pacific Northwest knows a thing or two about waterfalls, and nothing proves that point quite like the Trail of Ten Falls. Not only is this trek considered one of the best in Oregon, but it’s also a must-see for anyone with a serious case of waterfall wanderlust.
In fact, the Trail of Ten Falls is home to the second-highest concentration of waterfalls in the entire state of Oregon, and there are no less than 10 waterfalls along this modest, 8-mile trail.
And you don’t have to admire the falls from afar. You’ll feel the power of the rushing water as it cascades from canyon cliffs above. That’s right, after weaving through pristine old-growth forest, the trail passes directly behind several notorious waterfalls, including 177-foot South falls and 136-foot North Falls.
Watkins Glen State Park is a New York state gem defined by a majestic 400-foot narrow, hanging gorge and a legendary waterfall-dense trail system. The Gorge Trail, one of few trails available in the park, is arguably one of the most scenic 2-mile treks you can take in the state and features 19 unique waterfalls that are bounded by incredible 200-foot limestone cliffs.
The trail starts from a dark spiraling tunnel that was cut into the cliff-side before descending into a world of natural stone architecture and lush green wilderness.
Following the gorge, the trail meanders past Glen Creek, over charming stone bridges, and negotiates over 800 stone steps. The trail’s appeal, however, comes mainly from the ability to walk directly behind several waterfalls including Cavern Cascade, which plunges nearly 60 feet to the canyon floor.
Cummins Falls isn’t your everyday cascading waterfall. According to locals, this 75-foot hidden treasure has been the prime swimming hole for escaping Tennessee summer days for over 100 years.
Rumor has it, until recently, hikers had to earn their dip beneath Cummins Falls by scrambling down a treacherous, unmarked trail and wading in ankle-deep water. Today, 211-acre Cummins Falls State Park and its namesake waterfall are protected by the state of Tennessee, and the 2.5-mile trek to the falls are far more accessible.
Still, avid adventurers will appreciate that despite its recent enhancements, the trail to Cummins Falls still requires a bit of on-trail ingenuity. If you want to wade in the natural pools below the falls, you’ll want to prepare for river crossings and expect to traverse some sizable boulders on the river bend.
All waterfalls, it turns out, are worth the chase. But we might argue that some views are better when earned. Just beyond scenic viewpoints and overlooks, there are a ton of amazing cascading waterfalls begging to be discovered and adored.