Winter is frequently used in literature as a metaphor for some pretty dark and dreary stuff, and a scroll through social media would show you there are plenty of people who can’t wait to get it done and over with. However, there is a great deal of beauty and wonder that can be found in the chilly season. As nature and outdoor adventure enthusiasts, that’s probably information you already know well. Winter has some exceptionally fun sports and activities associated with it; snowboarding, sledding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice skating, etc. One activity that might not get the credit it deserves though, is winter hiking.
This year I decided to bundle up, borrow and then later purchase my own microspikes and trekking poles, and venture out into the ice and snow covered landscapes. Once I started, with the glorious Kaaterskill Falls, I couldn’t stop.
Kaaterskill Falls is in the eastern Catskill Mountain of New York. This two stage waterfall is quite an awe inspiring sight to see. I have no doubt it is breathtaking in the spring, summer and fall when it’s flowing with gushing water, but in the winter when it’s all ice is something well worth seeing too.
I really enjoyed how the top layer was frozen, but in some parts the inner water was still running free. It created this cool effect where you could see the water rapidly moving through a layer of ice like watching it through a clear tube. Another neat thing was that since the pools of water below the falls were frozen over, you could walk almost completely up to falls. I was so close that I could feel the spraying mist. This felt incredible while in the moment and absolutely awful when I walked away and the cold air started to freeze my damp skin and clothes.
We heeded the warning about not going all the way to the top, since the hiking trail was really icy. The microspikes let us get close without a whole lot of exertion or slipping though. Some people got fairly far in sneakers, but they were slipping, sliding, and sledding all over. In any case, I think the views we got were probably better than what the top would offer anyway.
It wasn’t just the waterfalls that offered a captivating view. I left with a deep appreciation for how beautiful ice can be.
In fact, after a little hesitation, I climbed my way into a cave of ice. You can see a little in the picture, but the ground is all ice. That’s what caused a bit of hesitation.
It was well worth it for views like this one:
Whether you go in winter, summer, spring, or fall, I highly recommend the Kaaterskill Falls. They are beautiful! The hike is steep, but quick. The parking situation involves a little walk down the street, but the parking lot has a stunning view of it’s own. Every step I took was something gorgeous to see. I also recommend bundling up, getting the right gear, and not letting winter hold you back from getting in some hiking miles. Hiking in winter changes the landscape in a way. It offers the rewarding experience of seeing a place that you may have seen before in a new way.