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America’s 5 Best Waterfall Hikes


America's 5 Best Waterfall Hikes

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.

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  1. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says

    Oh wow! I would love to explore any of those trails with the family. We love to get out and explore nature together.

  2. Colleen Lanin says

    These are all so beautiful! We’ve actually hiked a couple of these. We love to explore nature. There’s nothing more beautiful.

  3. Liz Mays says

    I really need to plan some hikes through areas like these. We have some simple hiking trails nearby but no scenic waterfall views!

  4. Pam says

    These all sound like wonderful hikes. We have hiked to many nearby waterfalls.

  5. Sarah @ The Outside Family says

    I haven’t been on any of these hikes…which means I need to start planning some trips! One of my favorite water falls is Hole in the Wall in Glacier National Park.

  6. Theresa says

    I love to go on hikes, but coming across a waterfall on them would be icing on the cake. I’ve only seen a real waterfall once in my life, so any of these hikes would be an amazing experience for me!

  7. Kim Croisant says

    Now you’re talking….these are the best types of hikes to take. I wished I could say that I’ve visited one of them, but I haven’t…but would love too.

  8. Maureen says

    What a beautiful list of hikes to waterfalls, we were looking for some recently. I will have to share this list to remember it when we are ready to go again. Thanks!

  9. Lisa Favre says

    I would LOVE to visit the Mist Trail. I gotta suggest it to my husband because we’re trying to think of places to visit for our next vacation.

  10. Rosey says

    Hokey smokes. That view alone would make me take out my hiking shoes!

  11. Beeb ashcroft says

    I have been in search of some new adventures. I have always been mesmerized by waterfalls.

  12. Crystal says

    Waterfalls feel like hidden treasures. I’m always willing to hunt for them. But you’ve made it so easy & now I’ve got a checklist!

  13. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama's Place says

    My husband and I were just discussing about a summer trail hike we want to do this summer. This is a great list and love the waterfalls! I sure will look into these suggestions.

  14. Brianne says

    Waterfalls are my absolute favorite! This is such a great list!

  15. Our Family World says

    This is my kind of hike. Waterfalls are so jaw dropping in its beauty, no matter how big or small they may be. Thanks for sharing this list. I have to plan to visit at least one this year.

  16. Carol Cassara says

    Waterfalls are so stunning! They’re one of my favorite forms of water. I think it would be nice to be able to hike and see waterfalls up close.

  17. Amanda Love says

    It’s been a while since my kids and I last hiked! Once this sickness goes away, I’ll be sure to plan a hike with them, hopefully in one of these lovely places.

  18. Michelle Waller says

    These all sound like great places to visit. I would love to visit and hike near a waterfall!

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