Hiking to a waterfall can literally offer a cool reward: In many cases, you can wade in and get some respite from hot summer temps. These five hikes offer scenic views along with a refreshing spray.
1. MULTNOMAH FALLS
Bridal Veil, Oregon
Portland is a dream city for adventure seekers, whether your passion is beer or the outdoors. This waterfall is only a 30-minute drive from downtown, and at 611 feet, it’s a sight to behold. In fact, Multnomah Falls often appears in movies, most recently in “The Shack.”
There’s a 1.2-mile hike from the base of the falls to the top. First, you can climb to Benson Bridge, an arched pedestrian bridge (and sight itself), hailing from 1914. There’s more hiking nearby, too: Continue to the Larch Mountain Trail, and meander for 6 miles, enjoying more waterfall views.
2. TAUGHANNOCK FALLS
Ithaca, New York
This waterfall — situated in the lovely, tree-strewn Taughannock State Park features the longest single drop on the East Coast, plunging 215 feet. Hike the Rim Trail: a 2.6-mile loop that offers views of the falls. Swimming is not allowed, but you can take a dip in nearby Cayuga Lake. Camping is available onsite, as is another waterfall: the 20-foot Lower Falls, accessible from the shorter, 1-mile Gorge Trail.
3. MACHINE FALLS
A 1.6-mile long leafy loop winds past wildflowers to a steep set of wooden stairs. Your reward at the bottom? A stepping-stone river with a wide waterfall, spilling over granite — and a comfortable wading area. Stand under the falls for a cooling, natural shoulder massage. The hike is about an hour from Nashville, making it a great day-trip option. Dogs are allowed, too, as long as they’re on a leash.
4. SEVEN FALLS
Hike 2.5 miles to seven waterfalls! Yep, seven — making for a refreshing and quite literal desert oasis. If your feet are sore, take a $4 tram to the trailhead. Otherwise, you’ll meander along a stream and through the shade of cottonwood and sycamore trees to the waterfalls. You’ll also pass cacti along the trail; it is Tucson, after all. Once you get to the falls, you can wade in and swim, surrounded by a spectacular view.
5. ESCONDIDO FALLS
This waterfall features two sections: The first is 50-feet high, and the second, a whopping 150 feet — making it one of the most stunning waterfalls in the area. The hike is 3.8 miles round trip and the first 3/4-mile section is paved. (Don’t feel confused. The street is called Winding Way: If you’re there, you’re on the right path.) Once you’re on the trail, you’ll cross creeks and be treated to expansive views of the Santa Monica Mountains — not to mention the falls.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT HIKE