10 Catskill mountain waterfalls worth visiting

Steep slopes and restless streams make the Catskill Mountains rich waterfall territory. Here are 10 falls worth visiting, winnowed down from the dozens and dozens to be found in the region. Some are a cool reward at the end of a rugged hike, while others plunge just a few yards from the road.

While most waterfalls in the Catskills are located in the high escarpment in the east part of Greene County, there are cascades, plunges and cataracts in each of the counties that make up the region -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. All five counties are represented on this list, so there's a waterfall here close to you. 

If you exhaust this list, there are many more resources about Catskills waterfalls to be found. Start with the definitive book: the "Catskill Region Waterfall Guide" by Russell Dunn, which contains detailed instructions to get you to 70 local waterfalls. Also check out the World Waterfall Database, an encyclopedic website that aims to list every cascade in the U.S., including those in the Catskills. 

Finally, before you start searching for cascades, a warning. Trails near waterfalls can be dangerous due to steep ledges and slippery surfaces. Stay on the trail, wear good shoes (no flip-flops or Crocs) and obey all signs. Some of the waterfalls on this list are deadly, so please be safe. 

This 16-foot waterfall is the topmost of Plattekill Creek’s 18 waterfalls in the vertiginous Platte Clove (also known as the Devil’s Kitchen), which drops 1,200 feet in elevation in just two miles. Parking area past Josh Road near the top of the seasonal section of Platte Clove Road in Hunter.

A short hike leads to the bottom of this 70-foot waterfall, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Catskills. Wandering off the trail can mean plunging to your death: Many people have died in the Devil’s Kitchen area, most of them inexperienced hikers wearing bad footwear. Park at the same spot as for Old Mill Falls, then walk downhill 100 feet to the trailhead at little red house on Platte Clove Road.

The most famous waterfall in the Catskills is also the tallest waterfall in New York. At 260 feet, it is 90 feet taller than Niagara Falls. It’s also one of the most deadly — two people fell to their deaths here in 2014 alone. A one-mile trail leads to the base of the falls. DO NOT attempt to hike past the end of the trail or to climb any part of the two-tiered waterfall. Park at the trailhead on Route 23A, just east of Haines Falls, where the smaller Bastion Falls can be seen from the road. (Note: Access to the dangerous trails around Kaaterskill Falls, as well as to the basins themselves, will be closed during the summer of 2015. More info here.)

A series of waterfalls lines the Manor Kill, which drops more than 100 feet before flowing into the Schoharie Reservoir. Follow the Long Path over the bridge crossing the Manor Kill for a view of the falls. Park on Prattsville Road (County Road 39) near its intersection with Route 990V in Gilboa.

A 3.6-mile round trip hike gently ascends Cherrytown Mountain on an old road to a series of waterfalls on the Vernooy Kill. The upper falls drop about 60 feet in a series of pools that are great spots to swim and view historic ruins. Park at trailhead on Upper Cherrytown Road in Kerhonkson.

Water cascading down Samson, Van Wyck and Peekamoose Mountains gathers speed and drops into the Rondout Creek through a set of spectacular waterfalls. The biggest is the 46-foot tall Buttermilk Falls, which you can see right from Route 42. Park on Route 42 (Peekamoose Road) in Sundown.

Also called West Kill Falls, this 10-foot waterfall can be accessed by a .7-mile hike from the parking area on Spruceton Road in Spruceton or a 4.3 mile hike from the parking lot at the end of Diamond Notch Road in Lanesville, off Route 214. The longer hike passes a lean-to and a scenic view from Geiger Point.

This steep, 80-foot cascade can be seen from a viewing area on the road and from a short trail. Park at the trailhead in Mine Kill State Park on Route 30, southeast of Blenheim.

A 23-foot cascade is just a short walk from the parking area on Russell Brook Road outside of Roscoe. From Roscoe, take Route 206 north to Morton Hill Road to Russell Brook Road.

The Barkaboom Stream tumbles through a 26-foot waterfall on its way to the Pepacton Reservoir in Andes. From the Route 30/Shavertown Bridge in Andes, turn onto Bureau of Water Supply Road 8, then continue onto Barkaboom Road.

This article was written Jessica Porter and Jeff Vincent. Jessica Porter is a freelance writer (catskillmtnexplorer.com), and Jeff Vincent is a trail guide with Catskill Mountain Wild (catskillmountainwild.com).

This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide, our annual publication the Catskills outdoors. The Catskills Outdoor Guide is distributed across the Catskills region and at select locations in the NYC metropolitan area. Find a copy near you here.