Kaaterskill Falls boasts a 260-foot relief from the top of the falls to the base of the second tier. Loved by locals and tourists alike, Kaaterskill falls is estimated to host well over 200,000 visitors each year. This landmark has been the epicenter of Catskills tourism since the early 1800s, thus Kaaterskill Falls is the most popular and highly visited destination in the Catskill Park Forest Preserve.
Because this area is so popular, there is information you must know as you plan your visit:
What do I need to bring?
Kaaterskill Falls is just one destination in the Kaaterskill Clove here in the Catskills. The clove has other viewpoints and destinations. To see them all, prepare for a long hike and bring everything needed for a full day’s adventure: map, compass, first aid kit, food, lots of water, extra clothes, rain gear, and hiking footwear. Flip flops and sandals are not recommended; the soil is loose stone and erosion, uneven surfaces, and slippery conditions are frequent here. Hiking boots or shoes are the best option for a safe hike in the clove. A safe and enjoyable visit to Kaaterskill requires some planning and preparation.
What do I want to see?
Are you just trying to see the falls or are you planning on going to other viewpoints as well? If you want to see the falls are you planning on just looking at them from above or are you trying to go to the bottom as well? Decide what is best for you and your group but please keep in mind, any hike to the base of the falls requires hiking down over 300 feet in elevation. This means, it may feel easier going down, but going up is going to be significantly more difficult. Plan for this by making sure the entire group has appropriate fitness, and is prepared with extra food and plenty of water.
How do I stay safe?
When visiting Kaaterskill please stick to the trails. Walking off trail, or into closed areas may result in serious injury or death. The entire area consists of very loose and exposed rocks. Getting closer than 6 feet to a cliff edge is not only illegal, but you may just step out onto an unsupported ledge which may crumble and fall with your added weight. Many people have fallen to their death at Kaaterskill Falls doing exactly this.
Where do I park?
Do not park on NY Route 23A, aka Molly Smith Lot. The traffic and pedestrian danger are incredibly high on 23A due to sharp curves and a high volume of cars. Currently, the Molly Smith parking lot is closed. However, even if this lot opens up, consider parking at Laurel House Trailhead instead to avoid the speeding cars on mountainous roads. The Laurel House Parking Area is off the road, in a wooded area, and only a short walk to the top of the falls. Parking in restricted areas may result in your car being towed far away, this will also result in a fine and towing fee.
The Molly Smith parking area on Route 23a in Hunter is closed to improve visitor safety. Visitors may access Kaaterskill Falls by parking at the Laurel House Rd, Schutt Rd, or South Lake parking areas.
When should I go?
Arrive early or late in the day or mid-week. The parking lots generally fill up by 10am on weekends and even earlier on holidays and will be full or overfull until the evening. Consider either arriving earlier or in the middle of the week to get a parking spot.
Are there trash cans?
There are no trash cans at Kaaterskill Falls! In fact, all public areas of the Catskills are carry-in, carry-out. This means that anything you bring on your visit needs to go home with you. Trash and litter on the trails threatens access to these beautiful places. Consider repackaging any food or snacks into reusable containers prior to your visit to avoid the chance of leaving something behind accidentally. Food scraps such as banana peels, orange peels, and nut shells are all litter if left behind. Due to the sensitive and exposed ecosystem of Kaaterskill Clove, this soil will not break these items down. Please bring them back home to the trash, or better yet the compost pile.
Are there bathrooms?
There are no flushing toilets at Kaaterskill Falls. While there are porta-potties, consider going before you go. Your experience will be much better.
What other regulations do I need to know?
Over the years, crowds have grown and people have been significantly hurt or have died at Kaaterskill Falls. In response to these events there are new regulations in place to keep people safe and to make sure everyone can have a good experience. Currently, the special regulations are:
- No fires
- No stoves
- No alcohol
- No generators
- No music
- Visitors must be at least 6 feet from the edge of any cliff
- Visitors must stay on trail
- Visitors cannot enter the stream or water less than 150 feet from the falls
- Kaaterskill Clove (including the falls) is closed 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset
Maps and more information:
- Purchase maps from the Catskills Visitor Center in-person or online here
- You can learn more about the Kaaterskill Wild Forest from the NYSDEC by clicking here
- Find a free map from the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference here
- Contact the Catskills Visitor Center at (845) 688-3369 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Come to the Catskills Visitor Center at 5096 New York 28, Mount Tremper, New York during our regular business hours to speak with a staff member.