Would you like a waterfall with that hike? If the answer is, “yes, please!” you’ll definitely want to read on and discover more about the best, super-sized, no-cal waterfall hikes in the US (fries not included!).
Niagara Gorge Rim Trail, New York
America’s most famous waterfall is located within its oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park. Once upon a time this spectacular locale was a honeymooner’s paradise, and adventurers sought fame and fortune by hurling themselves over the falls in a barrel.
Today you’re much more apt to find hikers enjoying the scenic views as they ramble along the Niagara Gorge Rim Trail. At just over six miles long, the trail meanders along the Niagara River Gorge.
Unlike the explorers of yesteryear, today’s hikers can enjoy unparalleled views of the three waterfalls that comprise the Falls without having to climb into a wooden barrel to do so!
The American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls are all visible from the trail, as are a number of photogenic outposts such as Whirlpool Rapids and Devil’s Hole.
Mist Trail, California
Moseying along Yosemite National Park’s Mist Trail gives hikers the opportunity to see two of the park’s most renowned waterfalls, Nevada Fall and Vernal Fall. The moderate, seven-mile trail starts in the Yosemite Valley, moves along the Merced River and then roughly halfway through ascends to Vernal Fall (elevation 318 feet).
The turnaround point occurs at Nevada Fall (elevation 594 feet), at which point hikers will have climbed almost 2,000 feet. Budget at least two hours for the hike, although a five-hour trek is not unheard of!
Peak waterfall flows occur in May and June, although most waterfalls course year round.
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Havasupai Trail, Arizona
Described as moderately difficult, the 10 mile Havasupai Trail can be traveled the traditional way or by way of mule or horseback. Whichever way you choose to access the trail, you’ll encounter two of the most photographed falls in the US: Mooney Falls and Havasu Falls. The latter was extolled by the Travel Channel as one of, “America’s Best Secret Swimming Holes.”
The trail is under the jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park and day hiking permits or overnight reservations are required. Hikers start at Hualapai Hilltop and encounter a series of switchbacks before reaching their destination, Supai Village.
Vibrant red rock canyons frame the enchanting trail which requires at least one overnight stay, with a round trip adventure averaging three days.
Pipiwai Trail, Hawaii
The Pipiwai Trail is a modest, four-mile stretch described as moderately difficult. Located within Haleakalā National Park, the spectacular trail is one of Maui’s most popular attractions.
Hikers tread alongside the captivating Pipiwai Stream and by the famous Pools of Oh’e before reaching the Falls at Makahiku and then Waimoku Falls. There is an 800 foot gain in elevation and adventurers should budget approximately three to five hours for a round trip.
Multnomah Falls Trail, Oregon
If you want to see Oregon’s highest waterfall, the Multnomah Falls Trail is the way to go. The nearly two and a half mile moderate trail follows the mighty Columbia River and boasts steep switchbacks with an elevation gain of nearly 900 feet.
But the sight of the enthralling Multnomah Falls (620 feet tall) makes the arduous journey worth it! Hikers are enveloped in a temperate rainforest environment and have the option of continuing on to Wahkeena Falls via a connecting trail.