Scenic Waterfall Hikes in the USA 10 Breathtaking Experiences

Get ready to explore some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders as we take you on a journey through the top scenic waterfall hikes in the USA at Yellowstone, including a mile loop along a creek to view a foot cascade. From cascading falls nestled within lush forests to majestic plunges against rugged backdrops, these trails offer an unforgettable blend of adventure and tranquility. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, these picturesque destinations promise breathtaking views and an invigorating experience.

10 Best Waterfall Hikes in the USA

In this listicle, we’ll unveil the hidden gems and iconic trails that showcase nature’s grandeur at its best. You can expect insider tips, trail highlights, essential details, and information to help you plan your next outdoor escapade. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an exhilarating exploration of America’s most stunning waterfall hikes with miles round trip, elevation gain, and feet! Scroll down for reviews of our top picks.

1. Havasu Falls, Arizona

Located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Havasu Falls offers hikers a breathtaking experience with an elevation gain. The stunning turquoise water against red rock walls creates a picturesque setting at an elevation that’s truly mesmerizing.

Waterfall Hikes in the USA

To access this natural wonder, hikers must obtain a permit and prepare for a challenging 10-mile hike with elevation gain. The journey, a mile round trip with elevation gain, to the falls is demanding but incredibly rewarding, making it an ideal adventure for avid waterfall enthusiasts.

The pools at the base of the falls are perfect for swimming and relaxing after the long trek. It’s important to note that due to its popularity, obtaining permits can be quite competitive and requires planning well in advance.

For those traveling by car, reaching the trailhead involves driving approximately five hours from Phoenix or Las Vegas. Although it may seem like a lengthy drive, the awe-inspiring beauty of Havasu Falls makes every mile worth it.

2. Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon, standing at an impressive 620 feet. It offers an accessible viewing platform for all visitors, providing a stunning vantage point to admire the beauty of the falls and its surroundings.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

For those seeking a more adventurous experience, there’s also a hike to the top of Multnomah Falls. This trail leads to a bird’s-eye view of the Columbia River Gorge, rewarding hikers with breathtaking panoramic vistas that make the journey well worth it.

The Columbia River Gorge itself is an awe-inspiring sight, known for its dramatic cliffs and lush greenery. As visitors ascend toward the top of Multnomah Falls, they are treated to glimpses of this remarkable landscape from various vantage points along the trail.

With its accessibility and striking natural beauty, Multnomah Falls offers something for everyone. Whether it’s enjoying a leisurely view from below or embarking on a hike to witness unparalleled scenery from above, this iconic waterfall promises an unforgettable experience for all who visit.

3. Yosemite Falls, California

Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in North America, with three cascades totaling a staggering 2,425 feet in height. The upper fall alone measures 1,430 feet, making it the seventh-highest waterfall in the world.

Yosemite Falls, California

Visitors to Yosemite National Park can explore various hiking trails offering different perspectives of the falls. The Lower Fall trail provides an up-close view of the base of the lower cascade and is considered an easy hike suitable for families. For those seeking a more challenging trek and breathtaking views from above, the Upper Fall trail offers a strenuous but rewarding experience.

The sheer volume of water that flows over these falls is awe-inspiring; during peak flow in spring or early summer, approximately 2,400 cubic feet per second hurtle over the edge.

Yosemite Falls’ setting within Yosemite Valley’s granite walls and lush forest creates a picturesque backdrop for hikers looking to immerse themselves in nature’s grandeur.

4. Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls in New York is a collection of three stunning waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls. These falls collectively form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in North America, feet.

Niagara Falls, New York

Boat tours are available for visitors to experience the sheer power and beauty of the falls up close. The Maid of the Mist boat tour takes guests right into the misty spray at the base of the falls, providing an exhilarating and immersive experience.

One unique feature is that Niagara Falls is illuminated at night with colorful lights that create a mesmerizing visual spectacle. This illumination enhances the already breathtaking natural beauty of this iconic landmark.

The city offers various viewing points from which visitors can admire these majestic falls from different angles. There are several attractions nearby such as Cave of Winds, an adventure where you can get extremely close to Bridal Veil Falls by walking along wooden walkways.

Visiting Niagara Falls promises a memorable experience for families with kids or anyone looking to witness one of nature’s most awe-inspiring wonders.

5. Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail, California

Challenging but rewarding, this hike offers panoramic views of two stunning waterfalls that make the effort worthwhile. The mist from the falls provides natural cooling on hot days, creating a refreshing experience for hikers tackling this iconic John Muir Trail.

Vernal and Nevada Falls via the Mist Trail, California

The Mist Trail is a part of the iconic John Muir Trail and covers approximately 7 miles round trip with an elevation gain of around 2,000 feet. This route is known for its steep granite staircases and close-up views of both Vernal and Nevada Falls. The trail’s difficulty is moderate to strenuous due to its steep inclines and rocky terrain.

Hiking enthusiasts will be captivated by the beauty surrounding them as they traverse through lush greenery along the way. The sound of rushing water coupled with occasional rainbows created by mist adds to the enchanting ambiance.

This trip hike serves as an excellent opportunity for photographers looking to capture breathtaking shots amidst nature’s splendor. Moreover, it presents an ideal setting for those seeking physical challenges while being rewarded with awe-inspiring scenery.

6. Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls in Hawaii is a breathtaking sight to behold as it plunges over a lava cliff into the refreshing freshwater pool below, creating an awe-inspiring display of nature’s beauty. The lush tropical surroundings add to the allure of this spot, and on sunny days, visitors are often treated to vibrant rainbows dancing in the mist created by the falls.

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Accessible via a short hike through beautiful forested terrain, Rainbow Falls offers an immersive experience in nature without requiring hikers to cover an extensive distance. As visitors make their way through the forested trail, they are greeted with picturesque views and serene surroundings that enhance the overall journey.

This scenic waterfall also provides opportunities for swimming and relaxation at its base. The inviting pool beneath the falls serves as a perfect spot for cooling off after a rewarding hike or simply unwinding amidst stunning natural scenery.

The insider tip here is that during full moon nights, if you time your visit right, you may witness mesmerizing lunar rainbows – rare phenomena caused by moonlight refracting through water droplets from the falls.

7. Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Wyoming

The Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River is the largest volume waterfall in the Rocky Mountains of the United States, making it a must-see for nature enthusiasts. The falls can be admired from various vantage points along the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, offering visitors an array of breathtaking views.

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Wyoming

Both upper and lower viewpoints are accessible to hikers, providing different perspectives of this magnificent natural wonder. Hiking trails such as Uncle Tom’s Trail offer close-up views from below while Artist Point showcases panoramic vistas from above.

Visitors can witness firsthand how the powerful waters cascade down into the canyon, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle. The Lower Falls offers a moderate difficulty level suitable for most hikers and provides a rewarding experience for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s grandeur.

For adventure seekers looking to explore more than just waterfalls, this location also boasts opportunities for wildlife spotting and birdwatching. It’s common to see ospreys soaring above or catch glimpses of bighorn sheep along the canyon walls.

8. Bridalveil Fall, California

Bridalveil Fall is an iconic waterfall visible from Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park. The flow of water varies throughout the year, offering visitors unique experiences depending on the season they visit. During late spring and early summer, when snowmelt significantly increases the volume of water, visitors can witness a powerful and thunderous cascade. In contrast, during the drier months of late summer and fall, the waterfall’s flow reduces to a gentle mist that creates a serene atmosphere.

Bridalveil Fall, California

The short walk from the parking area to reach the base of Bridalveil Fall makes it easily accessible for hikers of all levels. This accessibility allows visitors to enjoy breathtaking views without embarking on strenuous hikes. This proximity enables individuals with limited mobility or time constraints to experience one of Yosemite’s most famous natural wonders.

Visitors who venture closer to Bridalvel Fall can feel its invigorating spray and witness rainbows forming in its misty veil—a truly enchanting sight that adds an extra layer of magic to this already captivating natural wonder.

9. Ruby Falls, Tennessee

Located within Lookout Mountain Cave, Ruby Falls is an underground waterfall that offers a unique and enchanting experience for visitors. Guided tours through the cave not only lead to the stunning falls but also offer a glimpse of fascinating geological formations along the way.

Ruby Falls, Tennessee

During these tours, visitors are led through narrow paths and rocky terrain, adding an element of adventure to the journey. The highlight of this excursion comes when guests reach the illuminated Ruby Falls. The cascading waters create a mesmerizing visual display that leaves a lasting impression.

The underground setting makes Ruby Falls distinct from traditional above-ground waterfalls, offering an unparalleled encounter with nature’s beauty. This hidden gem provides an opportunity for exploration and discovery in a truly remarkable environment.

10. Akaka Falls, Hawaii

Akaka Falls in Hawaii is a breathtaking natural wonder that plunges an impressive 442 feet into a lush tropical setting. The scenic loop trail offers multiple viewpoints of the falls, allowing visitors to admire its beauty from various angles and distances.

Surrounded by the exotic flora and fauna native to Hawaii, this hike provides not only stunning views of the waterfall but also an immersive experience in the island’s unique ecosystem. Visitors can witness rare plant species such as orchids, bamboo groves, and colorful birds while trekking through the trail.

The location of Akaka Falls makes it easily accessible for tourists visiting both Maui and the Big Island. Its proximity to popular tourist destinations allows travelers to incorporate this remarkable hike into their itinerary without extensive travel arrangements.

For those seeking an unforgettable outdoor adventure combined with awe-inspiring natural scenery, Akaka Falls stands out as a must-visit destination on any trip to Hawaii.


You’ve just explored some of the most breathtaking waterfall hikes across the USA. From the majestic Havasu Falls in Arizona to the stunning Multnomah Falls in Oregon, these natural wonders offer an unparalleled experience for nature enthusiasts and hikers alike. Whether you’re seeking a challenging trek or a stroll, these destinations cater to all levels of adventurers. So, grab your gear, lace up your boots, and embark on an unforgettable journey to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of these cascading marvels firsthand.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it safe to hike to these waterfalls?

Ans: Absolutely! These popular waterfall hikes are generally safe as long as you follow trail guidelines and stay on designated paths. Be sure to check the weather conditions before heading out and always carry essentials like water, snacks, and a first-aid kit.

Q: Are these waterfall trails suitable for beginners?

Ans: Yes, many of these trails are beginner-friendly with well-marked paths and manageable terrain. However, it’s important to research each specific trail beforehand to ensure it matches your skill level and comfort with hiking.

Q: What is the best time of year to visit these waterfalls?

Ans: The prime time for visiting most of these waterfalls is during the spring or early summer when snowmelt provides an impressive flow. However, some may be more enjoyable during other seasons due to fewer crowds or fall foliage.

Q: What amenities can I expect at these hiking locations?

Ans: Most of these sites offer basic amenities such as parking areas, restrooms, visitor centers, and sometimes even food vendors. However, it’s advisable to bring along essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, proper footwear, and extra layers depending on the season.

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