While nature can restore your health and improve your mood, waterfalls have a way of washing away your worries, allowing you to connect with the elegance of the landscape.
Everyone should visit at least one waterfall in their lifetime for a truly unique experience.
Waterfalls captivate us all as they have a relaxing influence on our mood by modifying our serotonin levels, and the air around them feels fresh and invigorating. Some waterfalls are lovely, while others are simply stunning, but all will give you a wonderful sense of calm.
While enjoying the view from a lookout is fine, hiking to a waterfall is always more satisfying and makes for great exercise, too!
We chose the finest hikes to waterfalls in state parks across the country, and we found the very best options to enchant all of your senses.
Many of the parks offer easier trails for families with children or for those less athletic ability. Find your favorite hiking option close to home and revitalize your senses with these truly unique waterfalls.
Map of State Parks With Watefalls
Here is a map of the American State Parks covered in this post:
1. Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia
Location: 418 Amicalola Falls State Park Rd, Dawsonville, GA 30534
Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia features a 730-foot-tall cascade in northern Georgia, near the southern start of the 2,000-mile-long Appalachian Trail. Hikers go close to and over the stunning rocky waterfalls through a succession of ladders and boardwalks. Be sure to pack solid shoes to explore all ten trails surrounding the falls and other natural landscapes, or zip-line past the cascades for a unique experience.
The park offers a range of trails from simple to strenuous, offering sensational views. In addition, it connects to Chattahoochee National Forest, providing an adventure beyond compare. Keep in mind the trails are quite popular, so plan your trip early to see Georgia’s tallest falls without a throng of people.
2. Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana
Five waterfalls add to the artistry of Clifty Falls State Park in Southern Indiana, making it a hidden gem in this state. The Big Clifty cascades are the largest of the waterfalls in the park, with numerous lesser falls before tumbling 60 feet over the brink of a cliff. The flow is most vigorous in the spring and gradually diminishes to a trickle in the fall.
Be sure to visit the other three waterfalls, including Little Clifty Falls, which you can view from a bridge over the cascade. Next, head to Turner Falls for a sublime viewing experience after a rugged trek in the wilderness. Hoffman Falls offers extra seclusion about a mile from the entrance and is well-worth the hike. Tunnel Falls is the last waterfall within the park, with a rougher trail than the last. However, the intense hike is well worth the effort, as the trail dead-ends at a cave that turns into a tunnel facing the limestone waterfall.
3. Falling Waters State Park in Florida
Falling Waters State Park Falls in Florida is one of the country’s top state parks featuring waterfalls. The main waterfall cascades 100 feet deep and 20 feet wide and then into a 73-foot-wide sinkhole before disappearing into a cavern beneath the surface. Visitors can walk on boardwalks that provide spectacular views of the falls. The ideal time to observe these falls is during heavy rain.
Visitors can view 11 fern-covered sinkholes in the park, all of which are millions of years old, as well as a lake. Florida’s highest waterfall offers solitude as it is surrounded by a canopy of trees. The trailhead for the falls is directly next to the playground, and a steep footpath leads down to the park’s primary attraction: a deep cylindrical sinkhole that swallows the waterfall.
4. Caesar Creek State Park in Ohio
Caesar Creek State Park houses two waterfalls and a pedestrian suspension bridge, making for a unique and beautiful location to enjoy nature. This Ohio park sits south of Dayton in the lower western corner next to Caesar Creek Lake. The falls trickles into the Little Miami River on one side of the park and Caesar’s Creek on the other side.
Explorers can meander down a 1.2-mile trail along the shoreline to Horseshoe Falls, which leads to the park’s popular suspension bridge. As for the falls, while the falls themselves are quite short, the water cascades down a craggy gorge with a pool above and below for epic scenery and serenity. Crawdad Falls follows the Perimeter Trail and provides a unique waterfall experience. Horseshoe Falls, which is a naturally fed waterfall, wells up when it rains hard and dries up after a time, meaning visitors should keep an eye on the weather to see these stunning falls.
5. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in KentuckyLocation: 7351 KY-90, Corbin, KY 40701
Visitors to Cumberland Falls State Park can observe the waterfalls from the trails that run through the park in Kentucky. The 125-foot-wide waterfall has a 60-foot-long curtain of water that cascades into a big pool below. Another incentive to go to this park is to see a “moonbow,” a natural phenomenon making this the most beautiful nighttime waterfall.
As the second-largest waterfall east of the Rockies, Cumberland Falls is an alluring sight with multiple trails. Lover’s leap is the quickest trail to hike to snap some panoramic pictures from the observation deck. For a more challenging, but shorter 7-mile hike, take Moonbow Trail around the river and the falls.
6. Gorges State Park in North Carolina
Gorges State Park houses several stunning waterfalls, including Turtleback, Rainbow, Hidden, and Stairway, to name a few. The park is near Sapphire, North Carolina, close by the Tennessee and Georgia border. Enjoy the park by camping on-site to fully enjoy its many cascades.
Turtleback Falls looks like a turtle shell, and the 20-foot-drop into a pool below makes it a major attraction. Visitors seeking restoration to climb down the rocks into a natural plunge pool. The 150-foot Rainbow Falls and the lovely Hidden Falls are two more gorgeous waterfalls to witness in this park, all with different hiking routes to suit anyone.
7. Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio
South of Columbus, Ohio, find multiple waterfalls and caves ready to explore. Old Man’s Cave is a popular waterfall in the Hocking location, and it’s accessible from the six-mile Grandma Gatewood Trail. This trail connects to the three park areas such as Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave.
While exploring, take time to visit the Upper and Lower Falls built into the stone walls. Ash Cave Falls offers a unique cove with the water falling into a tiny pool. Two other waterfalls worth the hike include Whispering Falls and Conkles Hollow Falls. While there are too many waterfalls to name, all offer a chance to connect to nature and will help elevate your mood and ground your senses.
8. John Bryan State Park in Ohio
Greene County, Ohio’s John Bryan State Park is a 752-acre state park. Clifton Gorge, a deep gorge of the Little Miami River between Yellow Springs and Clifton, is situated at the heart of the park.
The Little Miami lowers 130 feet through layer upon layer of limestone and shale bedrock as it enters Clifton, 980 feet above sea level. There are many springs that feed minor waterfalls and cascades branching off from the river, including Amphitheater Falls nearby, although it’s technically in the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. Follow Gorge Trail to the glorious cascading waters via wooden steps and then down to the stream for more incredible views.
9. Letchworth State Park in New York
Find Letchworth State Park in Castile, New York, close to Lake Ontario and Lake Eerie. A gorge with a river cuts through the park’s heart leading to three huge waterfalls. Letchworth State Park crosses the Genesee River’s banks, forming a 550-foot-deep canyon given the name “Grand Canyon of the East.”
While the park contains dozens of waterfalls, the area’s main attractions are three major falls on the Genesee River. Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls are the imaginative names for these three waterfalls’ impressive falls weaving in and out of the gorge and flora. Upper falls features a bridge over the gorge, adding to the horseshoe-shaped beauty. While their names may not be that creative, we can guarantee the views of these stunning water features speak for themselves.
10. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park in California
Appreciate California’s natural forests and several miles of streamside and lake beachfront at McArthur-Burney Memorial Falls State Park. The park is located within the Cascade Range and Modoc Plateau natural region. Find the park up in the northern part of the Golden State, south of the Modoc National Forest, making it a descent drive from southern Oregon and west Nevada.
Burney Falls, at 129 feet, is the park’s showpiece. It is not the state’s highest or greatest waterfall, but it is possibly the most picturesque. The cascade features two closely separate falls with smaller falls trickling down behind and around the other two like a curtain into a pool. Additional water is supplied to the falls by springs, which combine to form a mist-filled basin or a unique setting.
11. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Minnesota
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is sanctuary to the lovely Hidden Falls. The park protects a portion of the wooded island in the middle of the plains where you would least expect a waterfall. Located in Minnesota, south of Minneapolis, the park offers enough beauty for everyone, not least of which is the limestone waterfall half a mile from the trailhead.
Tons of wildflowers bloom around the falls in the spring, including the Dwarf Trout Lily, an endangered plant only found in the park. Prairie Creek’s modest yet lovely trickle tumbles over limestone covered in moss, adding to the waterfall’s secluded ambiance. In the winter, the falls freeze over, making for an interesting sight to see.
12. Ohiopyle State Park in Pennsylvania
Cucumber Falls at Ohiopyle State Park is undoubtedly Western Pennsylvania’s most photogenic and photographed waterfall. It’s easy to access the falls from Ohio, West Virginia, and Maryland. The water not only cascades over a 30-foot drop, but it is also very accessible to see up close.
Cucumber Falls is one of multiple spectacular waterfalls in Ohiopyle State Park. If you only have time to visit one waterfall in the park, make it this one: the water not only cascades over a 30-foot drop, but it is also very accessible by following the steam a few hundred yards to the Youghiogheny River or continuing closer to the falls.
Use caution when gaining a closer look at Cucumber Falls as the rocks are often more slippery than they appear. You can also sit in the little pool below the falls or climb behind Cucumber Falls for a more unique perspective.
13. Palouse Falls State Park in Washington
Enjoy the best of waterfalls at the Palouse Falls State Park in Washington State.
The Palouse Falls were made by glacial floods thousands of years ago, and it is one of the few remaining waterfalls from the Ice Age. Palouse Falls is Washington’s official state waterfall, and it is a spectacular sight as it drops 200 feet into a winding canyon.
Enjoy easy hiking trails with panoramic views of the falls near Washtucna, Washington, between Spokane and Kennewick in the eastern part of the state. After a short walk to an overlook, the impressive fall will grab your attention as it weaves its way out of a rock wall into a deep pool that winds into a river surrounded by lush, green grass.
Pedernales Falls State Park is home to some of Texas Hill Country’s most gorgeous and unusual scenery. The park’s magnificent pathways weave through forests, above ridges, and along the river’s edge, while the river itself is reason enough to visit.
Visitors can climb the river’s granite formations and walk along the river’s sandy shoreline; you can even walk across the waterfalls in the right season. The environment in the state park is remarkable, and with several miles of trails, tourists may explore the region in a variety of ways.
15. Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania
Ricketts Glen State Park contains 22 waterfalls spread across 13,050-acres. As a result, it is a waterfall enthusiast’s dream. The Pennsylvania park is up north close to New York, making it accessible to several states. Prospective visitors should pack sneakers or hiking shoes, as sandals are prohibited on the trails.
Ganoga Falls, a 94-foot multi-layered cascade that tumbles through a forest on a hillside, is one of the park’s most stunning falls. Oneida and Mohawk Falls are two other falls that are beautiful enough to add to your trip if you cannot visit them all. However, most of the 22 waterfalls may be seen if you follow the Falls Trail through Ricketts Glen State Park.
16. Robert H. Treman State Park in New York
Soak up the wild beauty of 12 waterfalls in the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York. Its picturesque centerpiece is the steep gorge known as Enfield Glen. Travelers can swim with the falls in their sights nearby, making for a memorable experience.
Visitors can view a mile and a half down the woodland valley as it weaves its way to the lower park on winding trails that follow the gorge through 12 waterfalls, featuring the 115-foot Lucifer Falls. Fall in love with the rustic beauty of this park as you explore along winding trails and craggy gorges through rocky and wooded terrain.
17. Silver Falls State Park in Oregon
Silver Falls is recognized for its several magical waterfalls close to Salem, Oregon. Search for all ten waterfalls on your visit to the park, and do not leave without seeing the iconic South Falls. The South Falls cascade measures 177 feet and lands in a pool straight out of a fairytale.
Visitors can take the Maple Ridge Loop hike to view the incredible vista before going below into the cave beneath the falls. Then, continue to the Winter Falls Loop to see more extraordinary water features, including the two-tiered Double Falls surrounded by nature. You can see all of the falls from the Trail of Ten Falls in an 8-mile hike through the park.
18. Stony Brook State Park in New York
Stony Brook State Park is located in central New York close to the Great Lakes and a short drive from Pennsylvania. Stony Brook State Park is not far from Letchworth State Park and makes for a pleasant stop on the way to Watkins Glen. The creek in the park carries more water than most others in the area, and the park is one of western New York’s best waterfall sites, as it’s home to three big waterfalls and a few minor ones too!
The rugged gorge looks like a steep staircase as the waters flow into the creek, which you can see from the Gorge Trail near the north entrance. With a swimming pool adjacent to the trail, you can see the craggy rocks and a bridge. Plus, it’s the only park in the area with a swimming pool. Make time to see the falls, and be sure to take the stone staircase hugging the cliffside for striking views.
19. Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan
You will find Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan near Lake Superior, close to the Canadian border. This park focuses on the Tahquamenon Falls and the unusual amber color of the falls themselves due to tannins from trees nearby. The falls are known as the “root beer falls” because of the hue of the water.
Tahquamenon Falls is in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and during peak flow, more than 50,000 gallons of water per second crash into the pool below. Rocks in the base of the water, along with green covered hills, add to the falls’ magical feeling, making this the perfect location for solitude, especially on off-seasons with fewer crowds.
20. Watkins Glen State Park in New York
Adventurers will find 19 waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park in New York, located in the Finger Lakes Region. Old torrents carved a valley with 200-foot cliffs and rocks, including natural bridges, staircases, and tunnels, which all make up the landscape around the gorge.
Rainbow Falls is reached via natural rock walkways and tunnels, and it’s also accessible from Ricketts Glen State Park below. The entire park is carved in natural layered rock walls flowing down into the water with odd cutouts below and a canopy of trees above. Follow three trails, including the Gorge, Indian and South Rim Trails, to see all the incredible waterfalls, but plan to walk up many stairs in the process.
21. White River Falls State Park in Oregon
Head to Oregon for a breath-taking, 90-foot waterfall tucked into a horseshoe-shaped ledge cut in basalt bedrock. The falls splits into six unmistakable segments before submerging into the White River. Hikers can enjoy views of several mountains in the distance, making this one of the state’s best not-so-secret hideaways in the Tygh Valley.
The trail to the falls is not for beginners as it’s a rugged, quarter-mile deep hike into the canyon that eventually opens to the Deschutes River corridor. Visitors can see a historic hydroelectric power production and irrigation system in the park as well. Viewing platforms near the top of the trail allow visitors to enjoy the falls without the hike.