Falls and Caves

Just 2-3 hours away from Manhattan and it already seems like a thousand miles away. To cover two destinations on this trip just within New York state, two of my friends and I allotted a whole day joining other outdoorsy New Yorkers on a bus trip. That meant of course starting out early in the morning. The weekend weather was great and nothing like rain or high humidity was in the forecast. First in our agenda - Kaaterskill Falls.

Kaaterskill Falls is in the Catskill Mountains of New York, plunging us in some wilderness area with really rugged terrain. This public land is managed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. To get there, we have to walk 0.5 mile uphill from Route 23A where our bus dropped us off. At the trail head, there's a small cascade called Bastion Falls, giving us a preview of what lies deeper up ahead. The first section of the trail is quite steep.

Like most trails anywhere in the U.S., it is well-trodden and full of affixed markers so one is unlikely to get lost here. The terrain, following mostly the course of a stream, is rocky and can be slippery after a downpour. The path ends right at the base of the two-tiered Kaaterskill  Falls. Measuring at a remarkable 260 feet for both tiers, this is considered one of the tallest cascades in the country, even higher than the American side of the Niagara Falls (170 feet). It's possible to walk-up to the base of the upper tier at one's own risk - some fatal falls from unfortunate hikers did happen before!

 Wringing my socks dry after falling below a waterfall (pictures c/o Tatum)

Not wanting a deadly kind of fate, we merely enjoyed a brief stay at the base of the lower tier. However, once done with that close-up view, I ended up losing my balance when I tried to step on one boulder, in the process submerging my legs in knee-deep cold water. Thankfully, nothing serious happened and my camera was still safe in my hands! I was resigned to my fate of walking back to the trail head sloshing around in wet shoes and socks -  just a part of the day's adventure for me.

In what we thought was the middle of nowhere - New York is a big state, after all - we found ourselves in front of a diner in Middleburg. Diners have always been a part of the American dining landscape so what better way of refueling our bodies after that little hike to the falls than something so American as cheeseburger and fries. It was very good (though not for my arteries) that I forgot I was wearing wet shoes.

 Underneath the grounds and the building is a cave system

Another hour on the road after lunch, past rolling hills and valleys typical of this region, we got into Howe's Caverns. No, not at the caves right away but at it's glorified entrance inside a building. The cave system is 156 feet below the ground. But forget about being wet, bruised or muddied, the caves are easily accessed by an elevator! It's so surreal to simply step into an ordinary lift and then come out completely into a different environment. Just a year after it was discovered by Lester Howe in 1842, he turned the caves into an attraction - considered the country's third commercial cave venture.

Unlike the old tours of 1843 led by Howe, the caverns now have well-lit paths built above the actual cave floor. And just like in the old days, the temperature inside has always stayed the same at a cool 52 degrees Fahrenheit. Three kinds of tours are now offered: Traditional, Lantern, & Adventure. Since I was in a group, I had to settle for Traditional, really nothing more than a Disney-fied approach to geology as we moved in single file led by a guide.

The highlight of this 80-minute tour is a 15-minute boat ride in the so-called Lake of Venus. It doesn't compare of course to the boat ride in St. Paul's Subterranean River in Palawan, Philippines but for others who have never tried this before, this underground sailing was already a thrill. We walked back through a very narrow serpentine passage called the "Winding Way", a product of persistent water erosion. A brief ride up on the elevator and we're back again on the main entrance at ground level. And guess what was waiting for us? - pictures of us taken inside the cave for sale. And just nearby, a gift shop with tacky souvenirs.


  1. Awesome pictures, especially those taken inside the caves! Nga pala, napansin ko lang, pero mukhang dumarami ang mga self-portraits mo dito! :)

  2. Hi Nomadic! Sorry for the absence; another busy fortnight... No holidays... ;)
    Fabulous shots!! But no waterproof boots... ;))

    Blogtrotter Two is touring Cap Corse... Enjoy and have a wonderful week ahead!!

  3. Napa-wow naman ako sa ganda.

    Chasing waterfalls and caving are two of my fave things to do although the last time we trek adams, i felt that my knee is starting to act up.

    Awesome post NP.

  4. Jeruen,
    Ayan, binawasan ko tuloy hehehe! Never really liked posting photos of myself. Was desperate for a photo that's fit to what I was describing.

    That was the problem, I wore water-proof boots so all the water that went in couldn't get out until I removed my shoes. Still, the shoes didn't get dry.

    Thanks. Spelunking isn't really my thing but I did visit Sumaging in Sagada and another one in Caramoan. Di ko yata alam ang Adams ah!

  5. it's amazing that in a single post, you've taken us to so many places from kaaterskill falls to lake of venus. although the lush greens and cool waters seemed to be refreshing, what caught my attention was that cheeseburger and fries plate! sarap...

  6. whew, i like the cave. looks very magical. i'll refer this to my friend. anlapit lang sa NYC!

    and btw, im always thrilled to see your photos in your posts. =)

  7. I like the Howes Cavern as well. Parang ang sarap maligo doon sa pool, ang linaw ng tubig.

  8. That is an impressive waterfalls just a few hours bus ride from Manhattan. Is the tap on all year?

    Glad you did not get hurt and your camera did not get an unwanted bath when you slipped. Take care. I'm sure you are aware that most accidents happen close to home when you feel safest.

  9. docgelo,
    foodie ka nga talaga hahaha! haven't eaten fries and burgers for a long time kaya ok lang.

    thanks - next time I hope, di lang sa photos, we'll finally get to meet!

    lakwatsera de primera,
    naku ang lamig, parang kagaya dun sa Sumaging Cave ng Sagada.

    Most of the time yes but during the height of summer, this becomes nothing more than a trickle. So true Bert, accidents oftentimes happen closer to home.

  10. Hi Nomadic Pinoy,

    This is a great blog you have! I love the photos and I enjoyed reading the narrative. Someday I'll be in New York and will see the Kaaterskill Falls too. wishful thinking. hah!

    will be looking forward to your posts.

    Andresa :)

  11. my gosh Nomadic Pinoy! I'm super inggit na! hehe pero thank you, thank you. You remind me to keep on holding on my dreams. one day, sana marating ko din ang mga yan. thanks for the virtual tour! =)

  12. finally nakita rin kita...hahaha...you look cute:)

  13. amazing! didnt know that one can actually go to a spot as nice as this to just about 3hours from the city. nature tripping. saya niyan.

  14. Ramona Andresa,
    Maraming salamat sa pagbisita dito. I do hope makakarating ka rin ng NY - or anywhere you really want to go.

    I believe you'll make it. You're a doer kasi. But I truly love your story (just like Chyng's) and empathize with your plight on your trip to Singapore.

    ooops...baka nakakata-kyut! hahaha! I actually have random shots of myself in several of my posts.

    dong ho,
    This is what I love about living in a big city like NYC - a real wilderness is never so far away.

  15. the cave is a geologist's disneyland indeed, complete with photos for sale :)

    i've always wanted to see new york state and it's landscape. how was the weather?

  16. Great photos. Very detailed. Visit the Hidden Korean Place located along Ipil Extension, Marikina Heights. Visit the blog at http://hiddenkoreanplace.blogspot.com/ Call 0916-2413333 for inquiries and reservations.

  17. Photo Cache,
    The weather was cloudy but otherwise no rain or humidity dampened our visit - except that fall!

    You should explore upstate New York next time you visit.


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