Frozen or flowing, waterfalls make for an exciting highlight to any hike. As winter thaws into spring, the waterfalls highlighted below will undergo dramatic changes; a visit in March may reveal a very different sight than one just a few weeks later. Whenever you visit, be sensitive to trail conditions as mud season begins. You can avoid causing extra damage to trails by walking through mud rather than around it.
Little Wilson Falls
Elliotsville Plantation, Maine
Located near the southern end of Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness, 57-foot Little Wilson Falls is visible from the Appalachian Trail. Drive from nearby Monson to the former Little Wilson Campsite, where parking is available. Cross the stream and follow the gravel road to the left for about 1 mile. Turn left and follow the Appalachian Trail. Cross Little Wilson Stream at 1.2 miles and at 1.5 miles you’ll emerge on the rim of a deep slate canyon, with an outstanding view down onto the falls.
Distance: 3 miles out-and-back
Franconia Notch, N.H.
Begin this hike at the Basin—parking isavailable on both sides of Franconia Notch Parkway—by following the tourist path to the Pemigewasset Trail (0.2 mile). The Basin-Cascades Trail heads west from the Basin and Pemi Trail, climbing along Cascade Brook. At 0.4 mile you can take an unmarked side path to see Kinsman Falls, or go 50 yards farther up the trail to view the falls from above. At 0.9 mile the trail passes Rocky Glen Falls before ending at the Cascade Brook Trail.
Distance: 2 miles out-and-back
March Cataract Trail
March Cataract Falls can be reached from the parking area on Sperry Road by following the blue-blazed March Cataract Trail northeast along Bacon Brook. This seasonal waterfall is most dramatic in the spring, before it slows to a trickle for the summer months. Two other falls—Money Brook and Deer Hill—are accessible from the same parking area with a longer
hike, and nearby Mount Greylock also offers miles of additional hiking options.
Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back
Two very different falls can be viewed in one hike by heading south on the orange-blazed Main Trail from the parking area on Route 157. Make sure to notice the giant laurel about 0.6 mile in; it’s one of the largest known specimens in the region. Continue on the Main Trail until you hit Cherry Hill Road. A short on-road detour to the right will take you to the dramatic Wadsworth Falls, and a path and steps lead to the riverbank. For variety, on the return trip take the Little Falls Trail—enjoying the sandstone steps of Little Falls—and then the White Birch Trail before returning to the Main Trail and your starting point.
Distance: 3.3 miles
Minnewaska State Park
New Paltz, N.Y.
Located in New York’s Shawangunk region, the 11,000-acre Minnewaska State Park offers access to two waterfalls. Follow the 3.1-mile Upper Awosting Carriageway, from the Lake Minnewaska parking area (fee required). Shortly before the carriageway reaches Lake Awosting, turn right onto the Rainbow Falls Trail. After enjoying the falls you can loop back to the parking area on the 3.9-mile Castle Point Carriageway. Sixty-foot Awosting Falls can be accessed from the Sunset Path, near the parking area.
Distance: 8 miles
Info: New York-New Jersey Conference
Van Campens Glen
Hardwick Township, N.J.
To reach the cascading falls of Van Campens Glen, follow the yellow-blazed Van Campens Glen Trail north from the picnic area parking lot. The trail follows a brook for 1 mile before emerging at the falls, where a staircase leads to another half-mile of trail. There you can either extend your hike into the Watergate Recreation Site, or return the way you came. AMC’s Mohican Outdoor Center is also nearby.
Distance: 3 miles out-and-back
Info: Van Campens Glen
Ricketts Glen State Park
Two converging streams in the midst of Ricketts Glen State Park provide hikers in search of waterfalls with a rich payoff. For a 17-waterfall loop, park at the Lake Rose trailhead and hike in to the Highland Trail (0.5 mile). Follow the Highland Trail for 1.2 miles to Glen Leigh, where a right turn will bring you to a long (1.4 mile) sequence of falls. Go right again at the Waters Meet intersection to pass through Ganoga Glen and past another series of falls—including the 94-foot Ganoga Falls. In 1.4 miles you’ll again connect with the Lake Rose Trail. The Falls Trail is closed in winter, so check online to make sure it’s opened for the season.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Info: Ricketts Glen State Park