Catskill Mountaineer
 Home |  Catskill Mountaineer Forum |  Links |  News |  Magazine |  Email |  Books |  Hiking |  History |  Nature |  Reviews

Kaaterskill Falls

kaaterskill falls in the lake creek ravine





Information about Kaaterskill Falls:

Name: Kaaterskill Falls
County: Greene
Region: North-South Lake
Location: Lake Creek Ravine
Order within ravine: 1st of 2 waterfalls (1=highest elevation)
Drops within waterfall: 2
Total Height: 231' (measured by DEC with a laser)
Top Elevation: 2,360'
Bottom Elevation: 2,129'
Type of Waterfall: Plunge
Number of Drops: 2
GPS location: N 42.19311, W 74.06287 (Top of falls)
WGS84 location: 42.1933, -74.06296 (Top of falls)
Deg, Min, Sec location: N42 11 35, W74 03 46 (Top of falls)
UTM location: 18N 577368, 4671663 (Top of falls)
Previous or Alternate Names: Catterskill Falls, Cauterskill Falls
Description: This waterfall consist of 2 drops. The first drop is 167' and the second drop is 64' high
Hiking Distance: ~1.8 miles (round trip).
Best time to Visit: After a large rain storm (4-5" of rain) and in the late afternoon
Trail Information: Hiking Kaaterskill Falls
Time: Average 1 hours round trip
Elevation Gain: 330' from Rt 23a to the base of Kaaterskill Falls.
Elevation Loss: 50' from Laurel House Road to the top of Kaaterskill Falls.
Difficulty: Easy
Access to top of waterfalls: Hike down from Laurel House Road
Access to bottom of waterfalls: Hike up from Rt 23a by the horseshoe in the road by Bastion Falls
Map No: VO: #20 on top - #11 on bottom - TC: Map #141 - NG: #16 - USGS: Kaaterskill Quad
Digital Mapper: Topo Terrain Satellite DEC-Trail-Map (pdf) DEC-GIS-Map Greene-County-Property-GIS-Map
Safety: Waterfall Safety Guide
Known Access Safety: Hundreds of deaths over the past 200 years
Known Access Safety: There are many ways to die at Kaaterskill Falls - Here are just a few warnings:
Known Access Safety: Many Deaths from climbing from the bottom to the basin or the top.
Known Access Safety: Falling off the rim of the upper falls
Known Access Safety: Not safe to rock climb - rock crumbles
Known Access Safety: Do NOT cross creek when the water is high, and do not cross near the top of either falls
Known Access Safety: Do NOT hike up trail when creek is raging
Attractions: Great view from the bottom of the falls - Lousy view from the top of the falls
Common Animals: Too populated to see wildlife on a regular basis
Risky Animals: None
Access Methods: Hike from Rt 23a to access the bottom. Hike from Laurel House Road to get to the top. Do NOT climb up the closed trail from the base of the falls to the top. Very dangerous.



Maps, Profile, and GPS files

map of lucas kill falls




Directions to Trail Head to the Bottom of Kaaterskill Falls from the NYS Thruway

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles to Cairo, NY
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 32. McDonalds Rest. on corner.
  • Go approximately 7.7 miles on Rt 32
  • Take a RIGHT onto Rt 23A
  • Go approximately 5.7 miles on Rt 23A .
  • After going around the Horseshoe turn (by Bastion Falls), park 1/4 mile past the Falls at Rip's Lookout.

  • Directions to Trail Head to the Top of Kaaterskill Falls from the NYS Thruway

  • Take New York State Thruway to Exit 21 (Catskill).
  • Take a left out of the NYS Thruway entrance road.
  • Go approximately 1/4 mile
  • Take a right onto Route 23 West
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles to Cairo, NY
  • Take a LEFT onto Rt 32. McDonalds Rest. on corner.
  • Go approximately 7.7 miles on Rt 32
  • Take a RIGHT onto Rt 23A
  • Go approximately 6.6 miles on Rt 23A .
  • Climb up the windy mountain road (Rt 23A). When you reach the top, you will then be in Haines Falls.
  • Take a RIGHT onto North Lake Road. (Brown DEC sign on corner)
  • Follow North Lake Road until you reach Laurel House Road on the RIGHT side of the road.
  • Take a RIGHT onto Laurel House Road.
  • Go to the end of Laurel House Road and park at the turn-around.
  • Note: If you want to cross Lake Creek at high water, you will need to go further down North Lake Road to Scutt Road to get to the other side of Lake Creek.



  • Comments about this Hike

    Kaaterskill Falls is the most popular trail hiked in the Catskill Mountains. On a weekend, thousands of people line the road to hike up to the base of Kaaterskill Falls. Usually, Lake Creek is at low water, and the view is disappointing. But, at high water you will see the same view as the pictures displayed below. High water usually comes after 4-5 inches of rain. The best photo opportunity is usually later in the day. The sun will shine up the Lake Creek Ravine later in the day. The upper part of Kaaterskill Falls is 167' high and the lower part of Kaaterskill Falls is 64' high. The most awesome view is from the base of the waterfall.

    Years ago there was a trail that went from the base of Kaaterskill Falls to the basin and to the top of Kaaterskill Falls. But, due to accidents and deaths, the trail was closed. Many people still use the paths, but they are dangerous. You can get to the top of Kaaterskill Falls by driving up to North Lake Road and taking Laurel House Road. There is a very short trail down to the top of Kaaterskill Falls.

    To get some of the spectacular photos, we used a rope and harness to safely get some of these photos. I cannot over-emphasize the need to be safe. The number of deaths at Kaaterskill Falls is staggering. If you fall off the top of Kaaterskill Falls, the probability of surviving is virtually zero. Only one person has survived a fall over 200 years. Some years we get 4-5 deaths. Always keep safety as your number one priority.



    Mile Post Chart for Trail to the Top of Kaaterskill Falls

    Mile PostAltitudeNotes
    0.002,360Parking Lot on Laurel House Road.Take trail/road that has a metal gate blocking road/trail
    0.222,212'Walk down the trail until the trail ends at the top of Kaaterskill Falls.
    0.442,212'Return back to parking lot the same way you came.

    Mile Post Chart for Trail to the Bottom of Kaaterskill Falls

    Mile PostAltitudeNotes
    0.001,700Parking Lot on Route 23A (above and past Bastion Falls - past Horseshoe turn over bridge). Walk down Route 23a to bridge running over Spruce Creek (just below Bastion Falls). When you walk down Route 23a, stay on the other side of the guard rails to avoid being hit by a car. Respect car traffic.
    0.221,645After walking over bridge, Take a LEFT and walk up the right side of Spruce Creek.
    0.681,969'After walking 0.46 miles up the trail, you will come to the base of Kaaterskill Falls.
    1.361,700'Return back to Rip's Lookout on the same path.

    Pictures of Kaaterskill Falls



    view of the top of Kaaterskill Falls looking down the falls in the catskill mountains
    View from the top of Kaaterskill Falls looking over - Photo taken with a rope & harness.
    Photo by Richard Kugel


    side view of Kaaterskill Falls from the rim of lake creek ravine in the catskill mountains in the winter
    View from the top of Kaaterskill Falls
    Photo by Catskill Mountaineer


    view from the top of kaaterskill falls
    Top of Kaaterskill Falls.
    Photo by Richard Kugel


    side view of Kaaterskill Falls from the rim of lake creek ravine in the catskill mountains in the winter
    View from the rim of Kaaterskill Falls in early Winter - Photo taken with a rope & harness.
    Photo by Richard Kugel


    side view of Kaaterskill Falls from the rim of lake creek ravine in the catskill mountains during the fall
    View from the rim of Kaaterskill Falls - Photo taken with a rope & harness.
    Photo by Richard Kugel


    view of Kaaterskill Falls from the base of kaaterskill falls from the lake creek ravine in the catskill mountains
    View from the base of Kaaterskill Falls.
    Photo by Catskill Mountaineer


    view of Kaaterskill Falls from the base of kaaterskill falls from the lake creek ravine in the catskill mountains
    View from the base of Kaaterskill Falls.
    Photo by Catskill Mountaineer


    historic post card of people hiking behind kaaterskill falls
    View from behind Kaaterskill Falls. "Under the Falls" by Winslow Homer (Brooklyn Museum)
    Historic Photo from Library of Congress


    historic post card of kaaterskill falls and laurel house from prospect point
    View of Kaaterskill Falls back in the late 1800's.
    Historic Photo by Library of Congress


    painting of kaaterskill falls by thomas cole
    Kaaterskill Falls Painting by Thomas Cole.
    Painting by Thomas Cole
    The Mohawk Indian on the right of the lower falls is believed to be Chief Shandakan.


    painting of kaaterskill falls by thomas cole
    View of Kaaterskill Falls from the base.
    Historic Photo by Detroit Publishing Co - 1902.


    painting of kaaterskill falls by thomas cole
    View of the basin of drop #1 of Kaaterskill Falls.
    Historic Photo by Detroit Publishing Co - 1902


    painting of kaaterskill falls by thomas cole
    View of Kaaterskill Falls from the Prospect Point (now overgrown).
    Historic Photo - Author Unknown
    Links and References:
    CatskillMountain.com Forum - Ask questions, talk about your experience with this hike
    Catskill Mountaineer Hiking Information on Kaaterskill Falls



     Home |  Catskill Mountaineer Forum |  Links |  News |  Magazine |  Email |  Books |  Hiking |  History |  Nature |  Reviews
    Copyright 2001-2012 www.catskillmountaineer.com ALL RIGHTS RESERVED