Six Incredible Hikes to WaterfallsWith few exceptions, waterfalls are one of the world’s wonders that remain inaccessible to the casual traveler. To fully experience the awe-inspiring beauty, you typically have to expend some degree of physical effort and exertion to reach the most spectacular waterfalls. Seldom does the end of a journey bring such amazing rewards as a hike to a refreshing waterfall and the secrets it may hold.

Hiking is a stimulating and beneficial activity for folks of any age group.  It improves stamina, cardiovascular health, muscle tone and strength, circulation, and brings a sense of well-being to the soul. We plan to take a look at a few of these spectacular hikes to waterfalls throughout the United States to fully experience their splendor.

Yukon Charlie’s hikes to waterfall list covers trails with varying levels of difficulty to appeal to all hikers along with a rough estimated hiking time. We also included recommended items and special gear needed for your hike.

We included hikes to waterfalls that offer something for nearly everyone with differing mobility requirements. Regardless of your expertise, the listing will provide you with the appropriate information should you want to include an elderly family member, a small child, or a friend with limited mobility. The sheer joy of finding a waterfall at the end of a trek is even better when shared with others.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget your hiking poles! These trails can often be wet, rocky, and slippery, and hiking poles can give you extra traction and stability.

Twin Falls, Idaho

Shoshone Falls

Trail Name: Shoshone Falls Observation Deck Trail

Named after the Native American tribe, Shoshone Falls is probably the best-known waterfall out of several located near Twin Falls, Idaho. This southern Idaho locale is often referenced as the “Niagara Falls of the West.”

Although the falls can be viewed from several trails, one trail is easily accessible for any hiker. The one-mile out and back trail to the Shoshone Falls Observation Deck is wheelchair accessible. If you are looking for an all-purpose trail for the entire family to enjoy, this trail makes hiking to the falls a breeze.

If viewing the falls while paddle boarding or sitting on a dock with your toes in the water is your idea of the perfect hike, follow the signs to Shoshone Falls, where you have your choice of sloping surfaces to breath-catching leaps down steep cliffs dotted with caves. All end at the base of the falls to allow views of the falls at various angles.

Shoshone Falls Trail Difficulty:       

  • Shoshone Falls Observation Deck Trail 1 Easy
  • Shoshone Falls Trail  2-3 Easy to Moderate

Time Needed: 20 minutes to 90 minutes

What to Bring: Water bottle, a camera, and a light jacket. For the longer trail, take a snack, whistle (for emergencies), flashlight, sunscreen and bug spray.  The steeper trails require hiking boots with good traction.

Pets:  Dogs allowed; must be leashed.  No dogs allowed dogs in the grassy area of Dierkes Lake.

Yosemite National Park, California, Select Waterfalls

Bridal Veil Falls

1. Trail Name: Bridal Veil Falls

Easily accessible from the valley floor, Bridal Veil Falls in Idaho is a half-mile paved trail good for small children, seniors, and baby strollers. Due to the steep grade in some spots, it may not be suitable for most wheelchair users. Enjoy birdwatching, wildflowers, wildlife, and forested surroundings. Once you reach the falls, you will noticeably see how the falls, with the swirling mist, resemble a bridal veil.

Trail Difficulty: 1 – easy

Time Needed: 10 minutes to 45 minutes

Pets:  Dogs allowed; must be leashed.

2. Trail Name: Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail

Vernal Falls

The six-and-a-half-mile hike along the Mist Trail leads to the west’s stunning waterfalls and views to much of Yosemite. Enjoy a challenging trek along the Merced River.  On this trail, you will encounter footbridges, steep climbs and slippery steps to view these tumbling falls from the snow melt high above in the Sierras cascading through the forest.

Sites include the Emerald Pool, rare birds, wildlife, forested areas, mountain peaks, wildflowers and waterfalls too amazing to describe. Be sure to stay alert along this rocky trail. The Mist Trail leaves you damp and sometimes dripping wet by the time you reach the falls. Bugs thrive throughout the summer so bring bug spray!

Trail Difficulty: 4 – difficult

Time Needed: Typically 3 to 6 hours

What to Bring:  Water bottle, camera, and a water-resistant jacket. Wear appropriate hiking shoes or boots. Take snacks, whistle (for emergencies), flashlight, sunscreen, bug spray, and a first-aid kit. A change of clothes won’t hurt in case you get chilled. This trail is heavily traveled and well-marked so no map is needed.

Pets:  Not allowed

Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee, Benton Falls




View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Brian Solomon (@east_tn_hillbilly) on

1. Trail Name: Benton Falls Trail

Located near Reliance, Tennessee, the Benton Falls Trail offers a unique experience since you hike down to view this beautiful waterfalls. The elevation change is mere 291 feet over the three-mile hike. Good for all skill levels, this trail is great for exploring kids.

The trail starts at campgrounds in the Chilowee Recreation Area above the falls. This area is great for camping, hiking, mountain biking and trail running; and McKamy Lake is ideal for paddleboarding, kayaking, and most water sports. Gazebo overlooks serve as beautiful viewpoints to the falls. Enjoy birdwatching, see wildflowers and occasional wildlife along the forested trail leading down to the falls.

Trail Difficulty: 1-2 easy to slightly strenuous

Time Needed: 45 minutes to 90 minutes

What to Bring:  Water bottle, camera, and a light jacket. Pack a snack, whistle, flashlight, sunscreen and bug spray for a more enjoyable trek. Although usually heavily traveled, a map and compass are recommended.

Pets:  Dogs allowed; must be leashed.

2. Trail Name: Clear Creek to Rim Rock to Slick Rock Laurel Loop

For more experienced hikers, this brisk hiking trail loops the falls without ever losing sight of the falls. The six-and-a-half-mile loop leads you through forests and meadows and accesses to the campgrounds. Portions of this trail lead directly down to Benton Falls for a closer look at this unique waterfall. Begin and end your journey at McKamy Lake and enjoy the year around water activities.

Trail Difficulty: 3 moderate

Time Needed: 2 to 4 hours

What To Bring: Water bottle, camera, and a light jacket. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots. Bring snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, a flashlight, and a whistle. Although the trail is well-traveled and marked, a map and GPS won’t hurt.

Pets:  Dogs allowed; must be leashed.

Douthat State Park, Virginia

Blue Suck Falls Douthat State Park Virginia Is For Lovers CREDIT VIRGINIA.ORG

Trail Name: Blue Suck Falls Trail

Located in west-central Virginia, these falls are spectacular even when frozen over. Over five-and-a-half miles of rocky hiking trails lead to the stunning Blue Suck Falls. Enjoy your hike through forested woodlands with regional wildflowers on display. If you an experienced trail runner, we highly recommend this trail.

Trail Difficulty: 4-5 rated difficult or higher

Time Needed: 2 to 6 hours

What to Bring: Bring plenty of water, camera and light to medium weight jacket. Wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and layered clothes. Bring snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, a flashlight, and a whistle. This trail is moderately-traveled during certain portions of the year. Bring a map and a GPS. Leave your itinerary with a trusted person.

Pets:  Dogs allowed; must be leashed.


Which of These Hikes to Waterfalls Are You Planning to Visit? Is there one you think should have made the list? Tell us in the comments below!

So many of America’s greatest hiking trails lead to spectacular waterfalls but we couldn’t include them all. Nearly every state in the union has waterfalls with hiking opportunities for unforgettable memories. Most folks have cherished childhood memories of waterfall hikes and family camping.

Take the opportunity to explore your local area. You don’t have to drive long distances to find great waterfall hiking opportunities. Start making memories for you and your family now.