The Ultimate Guide to North America’s Best Waterfall Hikes
Waterfall hikes offer the joy of hiking and couple it with the treat of a beautiful view at the end of the trail giving you a prize at the end of your journey.
Nature has many beautiful natural wonders, and waterfalls are among them. Over generations of exploring, trails and paths have been created that lead to these spectacular falls to offer some incredible views of nature and the wilderness where the waterfalls flow freely. In most cases, the trails are open, and these falls can be reached on foot in a few hours, but you should always check trail conditions before starting your journey.
Here are seven amazing waterfall hikes in North America you’re sure to love.
Mist Trail, California
During the peak season of waterflow, you won’t find many views in Yosemite National Park that offer the spectacle of Vernal Falls at the end of Mist Trail. The Mist Trail begins at Happy Isles on the eastern side of Yosemite Valley, and it climbs along the Merced River until you find yourself at the base of the 317-foot waterfall. If you want to ascend to the top of the waterfall, there’s a trek with more than 600 steps, but be careful, it’s slippery.
Note: If you continue on Mist Trail for the full seven-mile round trip, you’ll eventually see Nevada Falls, which is even larger, measuring 594 feet.
DeSoto Falls Trail, Georgia
The Chattahoochee National Forest in Georgia has some amazing views and wonderful natural trails and areas to explore. The DeSoto Falls Trail begins at the recreation area campground in Lumpkin County and covers two miles round trip, with the DeSoto Falls being the highlight of the hike. This is one of the most enticing waterfall hikes in the area, with water cascading in tiers over more than 300 feet of decline over mossy rocks with the pine forest as the backdrop.
Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
Sometimes it’s really cool to enjoy waterfalls flowing down and under a man-made bridge that offers an incredible view of the waterfall while blending in with the landscape. The Flume Gorge area in Franconia Notch State Park features a 500-foot natural water slide called Table Rock and an incredible 45-foot tall waterfall called Avalanche Falls. The waterfall was formed during a historic 1883 storm that washed away some of the features of the Flume. This hike is worth the two-mile loop from Mount Liberty to the falls to enjoy the views.
Snoqualmie Falls Trail, Washington
The trail to Snoqualmie Falls offers an incredible view, which fans of the show Twin Peaks would be familiar. These falls are 270-feet tall and make a forceful noise at the bottom of the gorge. The waterfall is part of the river that helps keep power plants operational and white water rafting tours happily in business. This is one of the shortest waterfall hikes to an amazing view with only a 0.5-mile trail that takes you to the lower observation deck.
Rainbow Falls Trail, Tennessee
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to many amazing waterfalls and impressive trails that can be a lot of fun. Rainbow Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall in the park, featuring an incredible arch of colors produced by the mist on sunny afternoons. The path is a long one with 5.4 miles of round-trip hiking that can take a half-day to complete. Of course, the view at the end of the trail is worth the walk with the amazing 80-foot cascade that gives you an incredible view and a fantastic place to take lots of pictures.
Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail, Hawaii
There are many amazing waterfalls throughout the islands of this state, but the Akaka Falls is one of the most famous is the Wailua Falls, which was featured in the opening credits of Fantasy Island. If you’re looking for one of the most incredible waterfall hikes in the area, you’ll want to spend your day hiking to this amazing location. Of course, it takes you nearly four miles of walking to get to the trail’s named falls, which offers a 300-foot-tall drop down a mossy cliff to a fantastic pool at the bottom.
Cumberland Falls Trail, Kentucky
Cumberland Falls isn’t one of the tallest waterfalls you’ll see, but it is one of the widest. This waterfall is 69 feet high, but it’s 125 feet wide, which makes it one of the most spectacular places to go to see the water cascading over the ridge. The hike to the falls is an easy one-mile round-trip trail from the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park to where you can see the falls and enjoy how beautiful they are. This could be one of the best waterfall hikes you’ll find.