Kaaterskill Falls is New York's tallest double-tiered waterfall. The falls are located between Palenville and Haines Falls in the northeastern Catskills. Just an hour's drive from Albany, it makes for a great day trip. In the dead of winter, the falls are frozen which makes for a unique viewing experience.
Accessing the falls is fairly straightforward. It's easiest to take the NY Thruway (I-87) to exit 21. You then take Rte 23A to about 3 miles past Palenville. There is parking area on the left, about .2 miles past the base of the falls which will be on your right. Once you park, you'll want to be very careful crossing the road and walking down to the trailhead. It's a fairly busy road and there is not much of a shoulder. Definitely walk facing traffic.
The trailhead is well marked and the hike is only 1 mile roundtrip. However, on the day I visited it was unusually warm and some of the snow had began to melt. It made the hike extremely treacherous because the rocks had little traction. I was unable to make the hike up because I was not prepared with proper hiking shoes and crampons. Assuming you have proper gear, this hike appears fairly easy and certainly would be during the late spring and summer months.
While my husband hiked up a ways, my son and I stayed below and admired all the frozen water and boulders. I find frozen waterfalls spectacular and can't wait to return when they are free flowing. After viewing the falls from below, we decided to drive to the top of the falls. The drive is just 4 miles north on Rte 23 to Laurel House Road. There is a parking area and then a .25 mile trail to the edge of the overlook. Again, a very unique experience to see pools of water frozen at the top. From the top, the view of the Catskills region in breathtaking and a great photo opportunity.
It's tempting to walk out to the edge, or climb the falls but this is to be avoided with extreme caution. There have been fatal accidents for those who have not exercised restraint. Having said that, this is a very mellow and wonderful place to take a day trip, year-round.