Waterfalls have a magical quality to them that has captivated humans throughout history. For hikers who love spending time near the water, there’s almost nothing better than beautiful waterfall hikes.
With so many incredible waterways to choose from around the world, it can be challenging to decide which waterfall to visit next. We’ve selected 25 of the best waterfall hikes in the world to add to your bucket list and inspire your next adventure.
The hikes we’ve chosen are geographically diverse and vary in length and difficulty. Many of these hikes have garnered fame over the years thanks to their scenic surroundings and magnificent cascades. Others are lesser-known and appeal to travelers who want to get off the beaten path.
Anyone who has sat next to a rushing waterfall can tell you there’s something calming and even hypnotizing about the cascading water. Research has shown that being near water promotes happiness in humans and has numerous benefits for the body and mind. Spending time on, in, or near a body of water can lower your heart rate and breathing rate, provide a sense of well-being, boost creativity, and more.
Additionally, the sound of flowing water is very soothing and can have therapeutic effects. These include lower levels of stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. Going on a waterfall hike is an especially healthy activity since it provides you with all the benefits of hiking along with the additional perks of spending time near flowing water.
Cooling off with a refreshing swim after or during a hike is an amazing feeling. While swimming is not allowed at all waterfalls, many waterfall hikes offer the chance to take a dip in a river or pool beneath the falls. This feature is especially welcome in hot climates, like the desert surrounding Havasu Falls in Arizona or the tropical Ngare Ndare Forest in Kenya – two spots included on our list.
Being near water creates a romantic vibe, making waterfall hikes a great date idea. Whether you’re looking for a special hike to enjoy with a long-term partner or seeking to impress a new flame, hiking to a gorgeous waterfall seldom disappoints. Read our tips about planning the perfect hiking date here.
For many people, enjoying a summit view is one of the best parts of hiking. However, trails that wind up mountain sides are often rated as moderate to challenging, which may be a barrier to access for some people. There are fantastic waterfall hikes across all levels of difficulty. Many waterfall hikes, including some on our list, are considered easy, making them a very accessible choice with a big reward at the end.
The best time of year for a particular waterfall hike is highly dependent on the area you’re visiting. Many waterfalls have no water or only a trickle during the summer months or the dry season. Other areas become dangerous at certain times of the year due to snowmelt or heavy rains that result in raging rivers, hazardous crossings, muddy trails, and even landslides. Make sure to check the local climate and weather conditions to make sure you plan your trip during the right season.
While it’s impossible to list all of the amazing waterfall hikes in the world, we’ve narrowed it down to 25 of the best. We selected these waterfall hikes based on their natural beauty, unique environments, and opportunities to see wildlife. Whether you’re looking for a hike in a well-known national park or a trek to a remote oasis, you’ll find plenty of options on our list.
Check out the web story below to see which waterfall hikes we’ve selected: