Background you can feel free to skip: There’s just something about the name “Falling Waters Preserve” that screams, “Visit me already!”
And when you do come to this place, there’s a very high probability you’ll be glad you did. (When you get a moment, check out this Esopus Creek Conservancy page for a brief history of how this preserve came to be – it’s only been open to the public since 2011. Thanks for the awesome park, everyone who made this happen!)
The Falling Waters Preserve is just pleasant. You won’t find huge, mind-blowing waterfalls here (if that’s what you’re looking for, you’d be better off visiting Katerskill Falls, Verkeerderkill Falls at Sam’s Point, Bash Bish Falls or Indian Brook Falls), but you will find two separate burbling streams that cascade over rocks, complete with nice benches that dare you not to take a load off for a few minutes.
You’ll also walk right out to the shore of the Hudson River, in one of the few places where you can do so without having trains getting all up in your grill.
Oh, and there are picturesque Catskill-and-farmland views, too. And more benches, in case your legs fell asleep while you were sitting on the other ones. Whew, gotta rest.
Such a beautiful spot. My only hesitation about writing a trail guide for this fantastic place is that it’s a Scenic Hudson preserve, which means there’s already an awesome, informative web site with a great trail map. You don’t need me at all. But you know what? We’ve come this far. Let’s bust out a trail guide anyway.
1. From the parking area (see “Directions to the trailhead” below), stroll over to the well-marked kiosk behind the fence to read up on the place you’re about to visit. Might as well learn something while we’re here.
2. We’ll begin by walking past the kiosk on the gravel road for just a moment, following the red blazes of the Upland Trail. After less than a minute, arrive at the junction with the blue-blazed Father C. Jorn Trail. Turn right to hop on the Blue Trail, which takes us on a loop and returns us to this spot.
3. Is that falling water you hear? Indeed. In just a moment, arrive at your first falling water of the day.
Feel free to sit for a moment and meditate on the nice bench-and-arbor setup they’ve got going here. Sure, we’ve only been hiking for two minutes, but it’s important to pace ourselves. Anybody bring Cheetos?
4. Keep following the blue blazes downhill to find another nice bench overlooking the Hudson River shoreline.
5. Once you’re done frolicking in the waves (you’re not really supposed to frolic in the waves), keep following the blue blazes to a spot where the trail splits, at a tree with four blue blazes. This is the start of a loop. Let’s choose the path on the right to get closer to the river.
6. Beautiful bench alert! Seriously, have you not sat down yet?
7. Enjoy the river-and-forest views as you stroll along. Follow the Blue Trail all the way out – you’ll see where the other part of the blue-blazed loop rejoins you, and you can keep going out to this little shack by the river. Father C. Jorn’s garage? Actually, it’s an old icehouse, from way back before people realized that they needed to plug in their refrigerators to keep things cold.
You’ll find another nice stretch of shoreline here.
8. When you’re done checking out the river, return on the right-hand Blue Trail section that stays a little farther inland, just for a change of scenery. Finish the loop and head back uphill, past the waterfall, to where the Blue Trail began. It took me about five minutes to get back up there.
9. Turn right to continue on the Red Trail, which could easily pass for a gravel road if it needed to.
9. In just a few minutes, you’ll see the white-blazed Riverside Trail splitting off to your right (the white blazes had been ripped off the tree on my visit in late 2012, but I imagine they’re probably fixed by now – Scenic Hudson is on the ball about this kind of thing).
Stay on the Red Trail to keep heading toward the falls, and we’ll come back to this spot via the White Trail later.
10. From that Red/White junction, it’s about .6 miles to the falls. Just keep strolling, enjoying the bucolic views to your left. (Also, has anyone ever used the word “bucolic” in conversation? It’s one of those words that people only write, like kudos and ilk.) But are there benches, you ask? Oh yes. Have a seat and continue pacing yourself.
11. When you arrive at the statue of an important-looking person, where a paved road continues straight out of the preserve, turn right to stay on the Red Trail. Hear more falling water yet?
12. As you approach the falls, hop on the little spur trail that takes you down right beside the creek, where there is another nice bench-and-arbor setup. If you didn’t polish off the Cheetos yet, now would be a good time to bust them out.
13. After you’re done checking out the falls, the nicest stretch of trail for the day (in my humble opinion) is just ahead. Hop back onto the trail, following it above and behind the benches.
Keep heading downhill, ignoring the White Trail splitting off to your right (we’ll come back here in just a moment).
The creek drops into the ravine to your left as you walk high above it, heading down to the Hudson River once again. What a nice spot.
14. The trail dead-ends on a bank overlooking the spot where the creek runs into the Hudson. Take in the view for a moment, then head back up to the White Trail junction.
15. Turn left onto the White Trail.
Follow those blazes as you roll over some scenic hills, occasionally dropping down to the river’s edge. And, of course, passing some more scenic benches.
You’ll stroll almost a mile on the White Trail as it rolls along the river’s edge. Towards the end, it cuts inland again and dead-ends into the Red Trail, closing the loop.
16. Turn left onto the Red Trail to retrace your steps back to your car.
Aren’t you glad you came here instead of the mall?
Directions to the trailhead: From the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge headed west, take the first exit for Route 32 and go north. Follow Rt. 32 for 4.9 miles, then turn right onto Glasco Turnpike (and we use the term “turnpike” loosely). Continue straight in .3 miles as Glaso Turnpike merges with (and becomes) Delaware St. In one block, turn left onto York St. Are you on the right place? Yes, you’re in the right place. I know, doesn’t seem like it. In .2 miles, turn right onto Dominican Lane, which is nicely marked with Falling Waters Preserve signs.
Park in the large lot and let the adventure begin!
You can also get directions by checking out the Falling Waters Preserve entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: This address will put you on the entrance drive to the preserve:
1 Dominican Lane
Glasco, NY 12477
GPS coordinates of parking area: 42.04885, -73.94062 (Clicking will open in Google Maps or the Apple Maps app, depending on your browser/device.)
Super-cool Google Earth flyover of hike route:
Google Terrain Map of hike route:
Related resources:=If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The official Scenic Hudson Falling Waters Preserve homepage
- The official trail map
- A very informative article on the preserve and its origins from the Kingston Freeman: Falling Waters Preserve in Glasco offers plenty to see
- The preserve’s Facebook page
- A nice page on the preserve from the Esopus Creek Conservancy
Want to support trails in the Hudson Valley? Here’s one great way: Visit the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference homepage and click on Volunteer, Donate, or Shop! (Then you can volunteer, donate, or shop, depending on your mood.)