Waterfalls! There’s something magical about the cascade of water tumbling over one or more ledges to the river below. It catches your breath, makes you want to pull out your camera, even though you know you can’t capture the way the falling water makes you feel.
Waterfalls are one thing that every state seems to major in. Everywhere I go, people talk about the lovely waterfalls at such-and-such place; even in the middle of the desert, waterfalls are a great attraction.
So here are 15 waterfalls across the US that I feel are worth hiking to see!
15 Must-Do Waterfall Hikes
- Niagara Falls, New York / Ontario, Canada. Honestly, waterfalls don’t get more impressive than this. Take a nice long walk along the Canadian side of the falls for the best views, all the way up to Brink of the Falls where you can stand right next to the water rushing on its way over the lip of the Falls… Hiking distance varies.
- Spray Falls, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. This falls isn’t the easiest to get to if you actually want to see more than a group of pine trees, but by crossing the river, the size and magnificence takes your breath away. Visit in the afternoon for better lighting. And the great thing is that the trail to the falls has numerous little waterfalls along it, making for a double-great hike! 4.8 miles RT
Bonus Waterfall! Myrtle Falls, Paradise Area, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. A lovely little falls below stunning meadows and incredible views of Washington’s only 14er. About 1 mile RT
- Slide Creek Falls, Green River Lakes, Wyoming. This is probably one of the most unique waterfalls I’ve ever stumbled across in my travels. Water simply pours down a 45 degree rock face for hundreds of feet. Pretty cool! 9-10 miles RT
- Kootenai Falls, Kootenai Falls County Park, Montana. Now here’s a really nice unknown waterfall. It’s definitely a local haunt, with a viewpoint over the Falls, a swing bridge to the other side of the river, and more social hiking opportunities to other views of the waterfall on the far side of the river. About 1.5 miles RT
- Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park, Washington. As a young girl, this was one of my all-time favorite hikes. I’m not sure if it was because I loved the waterfall, or because a picture I’d taken on our first visit had been featured in a family publication… At any rate, it’s a lovely representation of waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. 3 miles RT
- Maidenhair Falls, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California. If “Hidden” is what you’re looking for – and you don’t mind the lack of a trail – Maidenhair Falls is a pretty cool find, especially considered that you walk up a very dry desert canyon to find it. About 6 miles RT
- The Gorge, Ammonoosuc Ravine, New Hampshire. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is best known as a route up Mount Washington. However, it boasts multiple impressive waterfalls, not the least of which is on a short side-trail simply signed “The Gorge”. A multi-step waterfall at the end of the steep route is sure to leave visitors in awe. 3.2 miles RT
- Bridal Veil Falls / Roughlock Falls, Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota. These two waterfalls, just down the road from each other, are beautiful. Roughlock has a short trail to some overlooks, while Bridal Veil is just along the side of the road – which doesn’t keep some tourists and locals from scrambling down the bank, crossing the river, and standing at the bottom of the falls! Certainly less than 1 mile RT
- Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. This has got to be one of Mt. Baker’s hidden gems. Sure, there aren’t views of the mountain, but the waterfall is still a great short side hike away from the higher elevation hikes. 3 miles RT
- Red Rock Point, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Red Rock Point may be the destination, but the view of Lower Yellowstone Falls is what makes the trail worthwhile. It’s just, well, impressive, both from the upper Lookout Point and the lower Red Rock Point. 0.5 miles RT
- Letchworth State Park, New York. If you’re looking for waterfalls, it’s hard to beat Letchworth. Three impressive falls, a scenic train bridge, a historic hotel, you get the idea. Hiking length varies.
- Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park, California. Here’s a waterfall that changes dramatically with the seasons. In the spring, you can barely get close to it due to the tremendous spray; in the fall, the tiny mist of water gets whipped away from the rock face by the wind. Still, it’s worth visiting in any season to enjoy its misty drop. 5 miles RT
Bonus Waterfall! Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, California. The only reason this one doesn’t get in the best of the best is because it totally isn’t worth visiting unless it’s spring or early summer. Then it’s got to be one of the most impressive waterfalls I’ve seen outside of Niagara Falls! 0.5 miles RT, though getting away from the falls, for example, up Glacier Point or Sentinel Dome, helps to get a better view
- Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This is a park in the middle of the small city, but it’s a nice one. Water tumbles over red ledges of rocks and through channels carved in the rock. Pretty nice, and a great way to break up a trip on I-90 or I-29. 1 mile or less RT
- Heliotrope Divide, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. It’s actually the waterfalls I’m talking about here, but you’ll have to cross some of the rivers all the same to see the best of the falls. If you want, you can continue on to overlooks of the crevasse-studded glacier. About 4.5 miles RT
- Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. There literally are 10 impressive waterfalls on this loop, making it a waterfall junkie’s paradise. One of my favorites was Upper North Falls. 9 miles RT
Bonus Waterfall! Multmomah Falls / Wahkeena Falls Loop. So many waterfalls on a little loop! My favorite is Fairy, but they’re all great!
Do you have any must-do waterfalls?
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