Waterfalls on the East Coast - Dry Falls

Stunning Waterfalls on the East Coast Worth the Chase

There is something about a waterfall that soothes the soul. The combination of natural beauty and raw power draws us in like a moth to the light. Julie and I love chasing waterfalls so much that we jump at the chance to trek any path leading to a cascading natural wonder. If you enjoy the chase as much as we do, we have a list of stunning waterfalls on the East Coast you have to see.

Niagara Falls

top travel experiences - watch total solar eclipse at Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls. Photo credit: Aivolie via Deposit Photos

You may think Niagara Falls is the tallest waterfall in the United States due to all the attention it receives. It is far from it. While many more towering waterfalls have a limited volume of flowing water, Niagara Falls has 6 million cubic feet of water spilling over its edge each minute. Exceeding 176 feet in height in some sections, the combination of height and volume is mesmerizing.

The iconic waterfall boasts a namesake town in both New York and Ontario. It comprises three waterfalls. Horseshoe Falls, often called Canadian Falls, is the largest. The other two are American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. You can see the natural wonder on the New York side of the border in America’s oldest state park, Niagara Falls State Park.

I suggest experiencing the full power of the falls by taking the Maid of the Mist boat tour. You will get a close view and a proper drenching. Do not fret. The tour includes a poncho. 

Getting so close to one of America’s most iconic natural wonders is something Julie and I will never forget. Not only was it a blast, it was our first adventure when we decided to leave the corporate world to lead a life of travel and adventure.

Taughannock Falls

waterfalls on the east coast - Taughannock Falls
Taughannock Falls. Photo credit: adifferentbrian via Deposit Photos

Located northwest of Ithaca, home to Ivy League school Cornell University, Taughannock Falls is a 215-foot plunging waterfall. The natural wonder sits in Taughannock Falls State Park, another fantastic New York state park. Forested trails along the rim and gorge lead you directly to the main attraction.

I suggest the gorge trail, which spills out at the base of the falls. The rewarding hike takes you through the forest on a wide, mostly-level dog-friendly trail. Julie and I agree the hike is worthwhile even without the waterfall. However, the single-drop waterfall captures the essence of beauty and power, a treasure at the rainbow’s end.

You get so close to the action that you can feel the powerful mist move through the gorge. It is sure to paint a smile on your face as you stare in admiration. 

Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park

Julie at Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park
Middle Falls in Letchworth State Park. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Affectionately dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park in western New York showcases dozens of waterfalls along a deep gorge carved by the coursing Genesee River. Three primary waterfalls steal the spotlight. Upper and Lower Falls each measure about 70 feet tall, while Middle Falls is 107 feet.

Julie and I love how the trails deliver a blend of forest and canyon scenery, each breathtaking. Of course, the three significant falls are the highlight. The Genesee Arch Bridge in the backdrop feels like you stepped into a picture-perfect painting. Best of all, you can customize your day with short hikes or a lengthy, challenging trek as you explore all the park offers.

Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen State Park

Waterfalls on the East Coast - Rainbow Falls, Watkins Glen State Park, NY
Rainbow Falls and Triple Cascade in Watkins Glen State Park. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

They say good things come in small packages. That is certainly the case with Watkins Glen State Park. The 778-acre paradise features 19 waterfalls and 200-foot cliffs along one of the most rewarding hikes in the United States. Although the entire park is lovely, Rainbow Falls and Triple Cascade steal the show.

Julie and I love this park because the primary trail leads you over, under, and behind numerous waterfalls. You get close enough to the action for water to splash on your skin. Even though you must navigate various sets of stairs, the beauty of the cliff walls, stone bridges, and cascading waterfalls will have you floating on clouds of bliss.

The park nestles in New York’s breathtaking Finger Lakes Region. After a day of chasing waterfalls, you can sip a glass of wine while basking in the glow of the sprawling vineyards and tranquil lakes. It is one of our favorite areas to vacation due to the combination of outdoor recreation and relaxation.

Kaaterskill Falls

Kaaterskill Falls in the Catskills, NY
Kaaterskill Falls. Photo credit: jgorzynik via Deposit Photos

Greene County, located in upstate New York’s Catskill Mountains, boasts many beautiful natural attractions. Kaaterskill Falls, the area’s crown jewel, cascades in two tiers during its 260-foot descent into a pool. Legends say many Native Americans consider Kaaterskill Falls the creator’s resting place. 

To experience the falls close up, you must take a 1.4-mile round-trip hike. Surrounded by the beautiful Catskills, the hike is easily worth the effort.

Flume Gorge

Flume Gorge, New Hampshire
Flume Gorge. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Nestled in the heart of the White Mountains National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park is one of New Hampshire’s top attractions for a reason. An 8-mile scenic drive takes you over the hills and through the woods between peaceful Echo Lake and the park’s highlight, Flume Gorge.

This waterfall is more about the overall journey that takes you through a mix of stunning scenery. As you navigate the 2-mile loop trail, you will discover lush forests, towering granite walls, and two covered bridges. The waterfall is more subtle, dropping in a series of short cascades. However, the hike is so rewarding, and the scenery is so stunning that the waterfall easily makes the list. 

Sabbaday Falls

Sabbaday Falls, NH
Sabbaday Falls. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Beyond its acclaim as one of America’s top scenic drives for fall foliage, New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway houses many treasures along its stops and overlooks. While Julie and I enjoyed every mile of the breathtaking drive, Sabbaday Falls is a treasure.

A 0.3-mile hike takes you along a set of stairs for a view of the entire waterfall from the gorge to the rim. From the moment we heard rushing water and saw mossy boulders, we knew we were in for a treat before we reached the stairs. The trail yields excellent views from above and throughout the length of the cascade. Although only 35 feet tall, New Hampshire’s beautiful landscapes make for a heightened experience.

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls, VA
Cascade Falls. Photo credit: anayah via Deposit Photos

Pembroke, Virginia, offers an easy to moderate 4-mile loop, along which you will discover an alluring 66-foot waterfall gushing over a cliff and thundering into a vast pool.

You can hike the lower trail along the gorge or the upper trail along the rim. I suggest the more scenic gorge trail, which follows a meandering mountain stream. The lovely hike culminates in a big payoff with the aptly named Cascade Falls.

Upper Whitewater Falls

Tallest waterfall east of the Rockies - Upper Whitewater Falls, NC
Upper Whitewater Falls. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

The highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, Upper Whitewater Falls in Cashiers, North Carolina, is 411 feet. Interestingly, its sister, Lower Whitewater Falls, measures 400 feet but is accessed in South Carolina. 

Julie and I recently visited the natural wonder during a road trip to explore the Carolinas. For your reference, Upper Whitewater Falls is a 1.5-hour drive from Asheville. 

A short hike on an inclined, paved path is required to reach the viewing area. If you want an even better vantage point, you can descend 154 stairs to an observation platform. Although the climb back up left us winded, the view is worthwhile.

High Falls

High Falls in Dupont State Recreational Forest
High Falls in Dupont State Recreational Forest. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

Less than an hour’s drive from Asheville, Dupont State Recreational Forest’s hiking trails feature splendid waterfalls and lush forests. The park’s star attraction is High Falls, a powerful 120-foot waterfall. 

Julie and I love this park. The forested hiking trails reward you with tons of natural beauty. Triple Falls, Hooker Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls are extraordinary in their own right, making the park worth exploring further. 

We discovered various treasures along the way, including unique vantage points and a covered bridge. If you need another reason to visit Dupont State Recreational Forest, filmmakers shot scenes for The Last of the Mohicans and The Hunger Games here.

Looking Glass Falls

waterfalls on the east coast - Looking Glass Falls
Looking Glass Falls. Photo credit: Cavan via Deposit Photos

The Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive,” rewards travelers with many delightful experiences. One of those rewards is Looking Glass Falls, near Brevard, North Carolina. A short drive on US 276, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, grants roadside access to the striking 60-foot single-drop waterfall surrounded by rock coated with bright green moss.

The short detour from the Blue Ridge Parkway winds through the lush Pisgah National Forest. If your schedule allows, the forest holds other attractions, including Moore Cove Falls and Pink Beds, named for the colorful rhododendron and mountain laurel that carpet the area in spring.

You can see most of Looking Glass Falls from an observation platform near the road. I recommend the under-half-mile round-trip hike to the base of the falls for a firsthand account. You won’t regret it.

Dry Falls

Waterfalls on the East Coast - Dry Falls
Dry Falls. Photo credit: appalachianview via Deposit Photos

We must admire many waterfalls from a distance. Some allow us to get close. Occasionally, Mother Nature will enable us to walk behind a waterfall. Dry Falls near Highlands, North Carolina, is one of those rare gifts.

The remarkable 75-foot waterfall plunges over a cliff in the Nantahala National Forest. There is enough distance to stay dry (hence the name) while enjoying the spectacular view. During or shortly after a rainfall, you may get splashed by the overpowering spray. Trust me, you won’t mind.

East Coast Waterfalls

Close view of Upper Whitewater Falls
Part of Upper Whitewater Falls. Photo credit: Miles with McConkey

When we think of the East Coast, we often picture big cities or sprawling beaches. However, the region offers scenic drives and rewarding hikes with stunning waterfalls. 

If you enjoy chasing waterfalls, visit our favorites along the East Coast. There is nothing quite like the feel of mist on your face when admiring a cascading natural wonder. Head to the East Coast and let the chase begin!

Featured image credit: appalachianview via Deposit Photos

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Scott and Julie at Miles with McConkey

Scott And Julie McConkey

After 30 years, Scott and Julie McConkey left the corporate world for a life of travel and adventure. What started as a gap year became a second act, and they are now full-time travel bloggers!