Thursday, May 25, 2017

14 Great Day Hikes to Waterfalls

Laurel Falls at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. NPS photo.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park waterfalls
Thanks to its geography, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a great destination for waterfall lovers. All across the park, the steep grade of rivers and creeks has carved down to erosion-resistant layers that suddenly drop-off. A few waterfalls top 90 feet in height.

Brandywine Gorge Trail
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
A 65-foot waterfall awaits visitors on the Brandywine Gorge Trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Brandywine Falls ranks among the most popular of the park’s several waterfalls. The Brandywine Gorge Trail, with a combination of segments from the Stanford Road Metro Parks Bike and Hike Trail, loops 1.5 miles to the falls then back to the trailhead with several crossings of Brandywine Creek.

Adams Falls Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Day hikers can enjoy a 55-foot waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park on the Adams Falls Trail. The 0.9-miles round trip is an easy walk on the park’s west side. Autumn marks a great time to hike the trail as aspen leaves have turned a brilliant yellow, though the waterflow at the falls will be low compared to May when at its peak.

Many Falls Trail
Glacier National Park
With melting glaciers and high mountains, waterfalls can be found aplenty in Glacier National Park. You can enjoy one of the park’s most photographed falls on the Many Falls Trail. The 1.7-miles round trip offers a 260-foot change in elevation, which is moderate for this mountainous area.

Lower Yosemite Fall Trail
Yosemite National Park
Day hikers can walk to the base of North America’s tallest waterfall on a must-do trail for anyone visiting Yosemite. The Lower Yosemite Fall Trail offers a number of spectacular views of Yosemite Falls in a 1.2-mile loop. Actually consisting of seven waterfalls, Yosemite Falls sends water rushing 2,425 feet downward into the valley. 

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks series.