This short hike from a remote trailhead in the Catskill Mountains has it all. Diamond Notch Falls will give the young hiker a “wilderness” feel with a lot to see along the way. The reward after the 0.86-mile almost level walk is one of the prettiest waterfalls in these mountains.
This short hike is popular and great for kids. You’ll share it waterfall enthusiasts, artists, day and through-hikers, swimmers, and more!
|Distance:||1.7-miles RT||Route type:||Out-and-Back|
|Total climb:||248′||Hike type:||Marked trail|
|How hard?||Easy||Land unit:||Hunter-West Kill WA|
|Trail use:||Hike||Other:||Bike, Horse, Ski|
View from the base of the falls
Diamond Notch Trail
As you make the 0.86-mile hike along the West Kill Creek, make sure you look off the trail to your left and see the old foundations and walls from past farming. Also, in spring, check out all the flowers, especially the Purple Trillium.
Another family-friendly hike: Alder Lake Loop Catskills
As you approach the junction with Devil’s Path, look to your left and in the woods; you’ll find an abandoned horse tie used when this trail was popular as a horse trail. The signpost has a metal cover to protect the old trail register and signs from porcupines that would chew on the wood.
Diamond Notch Falls
The double falls are a sight to behold, and the flume above (which is a great place to cool your feet) makes this a popular and short hike—plan to share it with other people.
Another spot is just upstream from the falls. When water is plentiful, a few hundred feet upstream on the north side of West Kill Creek is another smaller cascade. If the falls are too crowded, it may be nice to visit this one also.
Return the way you came for a total of 1.72-miles.
Video from the top of falls
Extending your hike
If the kids have the energy (or the interest), you can add another 0.8 miles (round trip with a 400-foot climb) and head to the Diamond Notch lean-to.
Trailhead parking for Diamond Notch Falls
The trail head is at the end of Spruceton Road 6.8 miles from its intersection with NYS Route 42. (42.182385°N, 74.269997°W)
Some notes on the falls:
- The flume at the top of the falls is deeper than it looks, and it goes over the falls.
- The swimming hole at the bottom of the falls is also deeper than it looks.
- The climb down to the stream from the north side of the trail can be difficult for some children.
- At a time of high water (i.e., during spring snowmelt), the falls may be too dangerous to walk to on top.
- At times of drought, the falls may disappoint.
- In the shoulder seasons (late fall / early spring), ice and snow may be present.
Backwoods wanderer with a passion for backpacking, hiking, and exploring the wilds of the Catskills and Adirondacks in New York. A Catskill 3500 Club Member and Adirondack Forty-Sixer. Climbed Mount Rainier. Professionally an Exercise Physiologist.