The 5 Hardest Waterfall Hikes in the USA

The 5 Hardest Waterfall Hikes in the USA

Hiking to waterfalls is a rewarding experience, offering stunning natural beauty and a refreshing respite from the trail. However, some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the United States are hidden deep in the wilderness, accessible only by challenging and strenuous hikes. Here are the top 5 hardest hiking trails in the USA that feature waterfalls as the ultimate prize:

1. Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona 

File:Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The hike to Havasu Falls is a grueling 20-mile round-trip trek through the scorching desert heat of the Grand Canyon. The trail descends nearly 3,000 feet into the Havasu Canyon, where you'll be rewarded with the stunning turquoise waters of Havasu Falls, a 100-foot waterfall cascading over travertine pools. The intense heat, steep descent, and limited water sources make this hike a true test of endurance.

2. Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park, California


File:Vernal Falls and Emerald Pool. Looking north from the John Muir Trail coming down from Nevada Falls. The Mist Trail is ascending at the base of the cliff at our feet. 

The Mist Trail is a strenuous 7-mile round-trip hike that ascends over 2,000 feet in elevation, leading to two of Yosemite's most iconic waterfalls. The trail is aptly named, as hikers will be drenched by the mist from the powerful Vernal and Nevada Falls. The steep granite stairs and slippery conditions make this hike a challenging and potentially dangerous endeavor.

3. Calloway Peak Trail to Panther Creek Falls, Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina


Pisgah National Forest - Wikipedia

The hike to Panther Creek Falls in the Appalachian Mountains is a strenuous 10-mile round-trip journey with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The trail is rugged, rocky, and steep, requiring hikers to navigate through dense forests and along narrow ridges. The payoff is the stunning 120-foot Panther Creek Falls, which plunges into a crystal-clear pool surrounded by lush greenery.

4. Chilnualna Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park, California


File:Yosemite Falls from trail, Yosemite NP, CA, US - Diliff.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

The Chilnualna Falls Trail is a demanding 8.4-mile round-trip hike that ascends over 2,300 feet in elevation. The trail winds through the wilderness of the Yosemite backcountry, offering breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The final reward is the majestic Chilnualna Falls, a series of cascades dropping over 600 feet in a secluded and serene setting.

5. Havana Falls Trail, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada


Kootenay National Park - Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

While not technically in the United States, the Havana Falls Trail in neighboring Canada is a challenging hike that deserves a spot on this list. This 14-mile round-trip trek ascends over 2,600 feet, navigating through dense forests, across steep ridges, and over rocky terrain. The final destination is the stunning Havana Falls, a powerful waterfall that plunges over 200 feet into a turquoise pool surrounded by towering cliffs.

These five hikes showcase some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in North America, but they come at a price – strenuous climbs, treacherous terrain, and demanding conditions. Proper preparation, including physical training, the right gear, and knowledge of the trail, is essential for tackling these challenging hikes. However, for those up for the adventure, the reward of witnessing these natural wonders is an experience that will leave a lasting impression.