Winter 2020-2021 seemed to be going tough for our family. We couldn’t leave the state without the need to go through a quarantine. Traveling was being discouraged. And obviously we couldn’t fly to any fun destination.
As one of those families who generally cannot sit still, what were we supposed to do all winter?
An answer came accidentally after we happened to see Kaaterskill Falls in Catskill. We were going to see ALL NY waterfalls in NY, or at least as many as we could, but minimum 21 because you know it was 2021
What followed was our most adventure-filled winters, and we never had to leave NY for that.
Here’s what we managed to find:
1. Kaaterskill Falls
Not yet frozen as we visited in early December, Kaaterskill Falls was still fabulous, with lots of icy cascades all around, ice-covered branches and ice-glittering rocks around it.
Kaaterskill Falls is also one of the deadliest waterfalls in the country, so be very careful when visiting.
If you stay on trails and use caution, it’s a great experience!
See how to hike Kaaterskill Falls here.
2. Rainbow Falls in Ausable Chasm
NY has a few Rainbow Falls but the ones by Ausable Chasm is the easiest to access.
It is right by the roadside, so you can park and see the waterfall.
We did get a hike from Ausable Chasm trail because those observations points offer some great views of the waterfall!
Here’s the full review of Rainbow Falls at Ausable Chasm
3. Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls is officially the highest waterfall in New York State.
It is also one of the most picturesque and pleasant to visit.
We used the gorge trail to access the waterfall but you can also see it right from the parking lot from above.
Both of those views are simply awesome.
Read our full review of visiting Taughannock Falls in winter.
4. Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca
Like with Rainbow Falls, there are more than one waterfalls in NY that are officially or unofficially called “Buttermilk”.
The one we visited is located in the Buttermilk Falls State Park and it is just outside Ithaca.
Buttermilk is a very cozy waterfall with a trail along it which takes you to the upper part of the park which is also very beautiful. In summer you can swim in the pool below the waterfall.
Read more about our visit to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca
5. Ithaca Falls
Ithaca is “gorges” and it’s well known for the abundance of waterfalls which are located right inside the city.
Ithaca Falls is by far the most accessible and the most impressive of all Ithaca waterfalls.
Read about our hiking adventures on Ithaca Falls trail in winter.
6. Shelving Rock Falls
Shelving Rock Falls is located in Adirondacks Mountains near Lake George.
Finding Shelving Rock Falls can be tricky as there’s only limited marking on the trail.
The trail to the waterfall is easy and short. Getting to the base may be challenging (depending on conditions) but still doable!
Read on how to get to Shelving Rock Falls here.
7. Delphi Falls
Delphi Falls used to be privately owned, and was opened to public just a couple of years ago.
The waterfall is very easy to access (it is two minutes away from the parking lot), and it is very beautiful!
Because it is so new, it is not easy to find on most maps, so refer to our story on visiting Delphi Falls.
8. Chittenango Falls
Chittenango Falls is truly one of the most beautiful waterfalls we saw in NY.
The top of the waterfall is easy to access: The observation point is located right on the parking lot.
A trail to the bottom is often closed due to dangerous conditions but we were lucky enough to se it.
Read on how to see Chittenango Falls here.
9. Pratts Falls
Pratts Falls is one of the most underrated sights in the state. Yet, it looks very different from any other waterfall we saw.
Pratts Falls can be seen from top and the bottom. The trail to the base is easy. Use caution when it is slippery.
Read about our trip to Pratts Falls here.
10. Awosting Falls
Awosting Falls is located in one of the most beautiful NY state parks, Minnewaska State Park.
The trail to the waterfall may get pretty crowded, so winter turned out to be the best time to visit.
We found lots of cool sights along the trail, like ice caves and ice cascades.
Here’s more about our hike to Awosting Falls.
11. Stony Kill Falls
Stony Kill Falls is a less known waterfall in Minnewaska State Park.
The waterfall is magically hidden among the trees. Its location turns a short hike into a real adventure.
We took the time to climb its rocks and make lots of pictures as kids didn’t want to leave!
Read our story on visiting Stony Kill Falls in Minnewaska State Park.
12. Roaring Brook Falls
Roaring Brook Falls is another waterfall in Adirondacks Mountains.
I was surprised to find out that it was 300 feet high (which would make it the tallest waterfall in NY!)
As we visited, it was almost completely frozen and totally beautiful.
Here’s more on finding Roaring Brook Falls trail.
13. Upper Plotter Kill Falls
Upper Plotter Kill Falls is located in Plotter Kill Nature Preserve.
The preserve has several waterfalls most of which can be viewed from the top.
Accessing the base of the waterfalls may be not easy to figure out (unless you are an ice hiker), so I described how we managed to find the base of Upper Plotter Kill Falls here.
14. High Falls of Rochester
High Falls of Rochester is located right inside the city. It looks very dramatic against its urban background!
If you are new to Rochester (like we were), finding the best view of the waterfall may be challenging.
Here’s how to easily find the best spot to see High Falls of Rochester.
15. Niagara Falls
Obviously, as our challenge was all about seeing winter waterfalls of New York State, visiting Niagara Falls was a must.
We came in February to get into true winter wonderland with icy trees, icy trails and icy stairs all around the waterfall.
We had seen Niagara Falls many times but never before in winter. We were impressed! All the trees around it were covered with ice and the waterfall made a permanent cloud above it. That’s how powerful it was!
16. Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park
Unlike its westerns namesake, the Grand Canyon of the East has several waterfalls. Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park is probably the best known one.
The waterfall is featured in most pictures of the park. It has an arch bridge over it giving it a truly dramatic look.
Read our story on accessing Upper Falls of Letchworth State Park in winter. We were lucky enough to visit right after a snow storm!
17. Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park
Middle Falls is another gorgeous waterfall you can see in Letchworth State Park all year around.
It is one of the most voluminous waterfalls in New York.
There’s no way to see the waterfall from the base in winter but the available view is still pretty awesome.
Here’s how to see Middle Falls of Letchworth State Park in winter.
18. Shequaga Falls
Shequaga Falls (also referred to as She-Qua-Ga Falls) in Montour Falls is a beautiful waterfall in Finger lakes region of NY.
The waterfall is located right inside the town, and GPS instructions may be confusing, so instead of searching for “Shequaga Falls”, look for “Shequaga Falls Park” instead.
The parking lot allows only 2 cars, so plan on parking your car elsewhere and then walk to the waterfall.
If you are in the area make sure to stop by Watkins Glen Park!
19. Hector Falls
Hector Falls is a beautiful roadside waterfall on the shore of Seneca Lake.
You really need 2-5 minutes to see the waterfall, and it is well worth the trip!
You cannot see the whole waterfall from the bridge but what you see is pretty amazing anyway.
Here’s how to find parking to see frozen Hector Falls.
20. Plattekill Falls
About 20 minutes past Kaaterskill Falls, there is another cool waterfall in Catskills called Plattekill Falls.
It’s not that crowded and looks cozy. We were lucky enough to hike in bluebird conditions with ice and snow glittering in the sun.
Here’s how to get to Plattekill Falls.
21. Lyons Falls
Lyons Falls is a picturesque roadside waterfall that is created where two rivers – Black River and Moose River – meet.
The waterfall has a hydro-electric plant on it but it still looks beautiful!
Here’s how to get to the best view of Lyons Falls.
22. Salmon River Falls
Salmon River Falls is a large waterfall on the Salmon River, the well known fishing paradise.
The waterfall is located in Oswego County, NY. It is a short trip from the Thousand Islands in case you are visiting the area.
The recently constructed gorge trail provides a great view of the waterfall. You can also take a quick trail to the very top of the waterfall!
23. Pixley Falls
Pixley Falls is nice waterfall located in Pixley Falls State Park.
The waterfall is not too high (50 feet) but it is very enjoyable. The trail to Pixley Falls is short and sweet, and there are many more hiking trails around it.
Unless you take some time exploring the are and hiking, it takes no more than an hour to see Pixley Falls.
Here’s the quickest way to see Pixley Falls.
24. Deer River Falls
Deer River Falls is a poorly documented waterfall at at the NY 26 bridge, located in Lewis County.
The waterfall is about 15 feet high but it makes a picturesque site nonetheless. When you are crossing the bridge, you are likely to notice a cloud of mist signalling there’s a waterfall underneath.
Here’s how to see Deer River Falls.
To sum up
We are far from done yet! There are many more cool waterfalls in NY that may be no longer frozen when we get there but we will still keep exploring!
We are mapping our trip for kids to know where we have been and where we are heading next. Stay tuned!