We've been a little waterfall-crazy lately. There's just something about walking through the woods and coming upon that whoosh of water as it falls over rocks. And with the leaves just starting to turn, now is a great time to check out a few.
After the jump, a handful of local waterfalls that are worth a look.
Important: Waterfalls -- being tall, wet and made of rocks -- can be dangerous. Stay on the marked trails and obey the rules. Also, good shoes are never a bad idea. Have fun.
The Cohoes Falls
OK, so we're starting with one that's super close and pretty well known. But have you have ever taken the time to stop and see the Cohoes Falls? We're always surprised to hear how many people haven't. You totally should check them out.
Located just upstream of downtown Cohoes, the Cohoes Falls are an impressive sight. Believe it or not, Europeans visiting the United States once made it a point to stop in Cohoes and see the falls. They're that impressive -- the biggest falls east of Niagara.
Even so, it had been kind of hard to get a good look the falls -- until Falls View Park opened in 2008. And the lower level of the park offers an even better look (though, sometimes it's closed when the water level is up).
This beautiful 90-foot waterfall in Rensselaer County is on the Poesten Kill. The stream drains the 35 square mile Rensselaer Plateau, so there's usually a good amount of water.
It's remarkable how the hidden it is -- driving the adjacent roads, you'd never know such a spot was a short walk nearby.
Important: One half of this waterfall is on Nature Conservancy land and the other half belongs to a private homeowner. There is access via the Nature Conservancy trail on Blue Factory Road. There's a parking cutout on Plank Road across from the cemetery -- walk along the road to get to the trail head. Do not access the site from the other side. Law enforcement does patrol the area and crossing the private land could very well get you prosecuted for trespassing.
Update 2012: The Nature Conservancy is closing access to the falls for summer 2012 because people weren't following the rules.
Barberville falls photo: Sebastien B
An impressive gorge runs through the The Plotterkill Preserve in Rotterdam -- and there are three waterfalls in the gorge. Big waterfalls -- one is 60 feet tall and the other two are 40 feet.
The Plotterkill doesn't seem to flow hard all the time -- your best bet is the spring when it's draining snow melt -- but the gorge and falls are impressive even without much water. The main trails are a pretty easy hike, but getting down into the gorge is more challenging (no joke, it's steep). It's fun to walk along the bottom of the gorge, though -- and coming across one of the falls sort of makes you feel like Indian Jones.
There are two trailheads for the Plotterkill. If you want to see the falls, the best bet is the Mariaville Road entrance.
The Rensselaerville Falls
The falls have multiple cascades. The lower portion is an easy five minute walk from the preserve's parking lot. It takes about 20 minutes or so to walk around to the top of the 60 foot falls, where there's a bridge and observation platform.
This one is a little farther afield, but it's totally worth the trip. The Kaaterskill Falls are in the Catskills in Greene County. And they're tall. Really tall. The two-drop falls total 260 feet.
They're a very impressive site. Washington Irving mentions it in Rip Van Winkle. And it served as a subject for famous Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole.
The falls make you work for that view. To reach the base of the falls, you have to hike a half-mile up the gorge below. It's not crazy hard, but it's not a stroll.
The falls are still a popular spot. On a nice weekend day, don't be surprised if you have to wait for a parking spot in the lot just west of the trailhead on Route 23A.
Important: This can be a dangerous spot if you're not careful. There have been a handful of deaths there over the last two years.
Know of other good waterfall spots in/near the Capital Region? Please share!
Earlier on AOA: Great local autumn walks
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