On a hiking trip, a waterfall is a towering piece of nature worth pausing your hike for a picture. Gallons of water gushing down cliffs and ledges is a majestic sight, but what if a waterfall was frozen? How often do hikers see something like that?
Hiking through snow and ice may not always be a desirable activity, but these stunning sights make the effort worth it.
Read on to learn about the many frozen waterfall hikes throughout the U.S. that will surely take your breath away!
Frozen Waterfall Hikes in the Rockies
1. Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon is 607 feet tall and one of America’s top 100 waterfalls. It’s also the most photographed waterfall in Utah. In the winter, that’s definitely the case due to how the sunlight sparkles and reflects on the ice formations.
This frozen waterfall hike includes easy trails to explore, such as the falls’ mostly paved main 1.4-mile trail. Sometimes avalanches add snow to it, but despite infrequent plowing, it’s well-traveled. On top of dressing warmly, bring a hiking stick to help you along the trail.
There’s also the 0.1-mile observation trail, which has a bridge that you can watch the waterfall from. But if snow and ice conditions are dangerous due to weather or avalanches, the trails will close.
2. Fish Creek Falls
Steamboat Springs, CO
The 284-foot Fish Creek Falls is Colorado’s second-tallest waterfall, divided into upper and lower falls in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. If you hike near this frozen waterfall when the snow melts, you’ll see it glistening between the snow-capped rocks.
The 4.5-mile Fish Creek Falls Trail leads you downhill to the Fish Creek Bridge. Then it takes you to both sections of the waterfall along the way. Another trail you can hike is the 0.7-mile Overlook Trail, leading you to an overlook of the Lower Falls.
Snowshoes or hiking boots with decent treading make it safe and easy to hike over a foot of snow. Should you lack these necessities on the Fish Creek Falls Trail, stay at the bridge and safely admire the falls.
3. Grotto Falls
Late October in Montana is usually when temperatures drop below freezing, turning Grotto Falls into an ice sculpture. The 15-foot cascade is located in the Hyalite Canyon in Gallatin National Forest. Hike the 1.3-mile Hyalite Creek Trail to see it and its icicles lining the cliffs around it.
Another trail to hike on is the waterfall’s main 2.4-mile trail. It will let you see the surrounding cliffs that have more waterfalls. You may even see some ice climbers making their way up the frozen falls!
In addition to bundling up and donning quality hiking footwear for this frozen waterfall hike, drive carefully going there. Though the road to Hyalite Canyon is usually plowed, it still gets icy. Also, to avoid photobombers in your waterfall pictures, visit the falls during the week when it’s not busy.
Frozen Waterfall Hikes Near the Pacific
4. Snoqualmie Falls
Frozen waterfall hikes that get more than 1.5 million visitors speak volumes; that’s Snoqualmie Falls for you! And it’s not just because of its appearance in the movie Twin Peaks.
When the Pacific Northwest’s temperatures drop, the popular 269-foot-tall cascade’s watery descent is frozen in mid-air.
The hiking route for this frozen waterfall connects the viewpoint at the falls’ peak to the viewpoint at the falls’ base. The trail is fairly easy but has some moderately steep areas; a few inches of snow will add to the challenge.
5. Thunderbird Falls
In the dead of winter, the 200-foot-tall Thunderbird Falls of Chugach State Park provides the most stunning frozen waterfall hike. Its cobalt blue appearance contrasting with the white landscape of powdered snow and ice really grabs hikers’ full attention.
What’s amazing about this frozen waterfall is the water beneath the ice. Hikers can see the water underneath still flowing from the top through the foothills’ gap and down to the base’s pool.
The general path to the waterfall leads you to two routes. You can hike 1.8 miles to the falls’ base or hike straight to the viewing deck to see the waterfall. Though the trail’s boardwalks and handrails ease the hike, don some ice cleats in addition to bundling up.
6. Multnomah Falls
Multnomah County, OR
At the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the 620-foot-tall Multnomah Falls is a crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Though it’s rare for the waterfall to freeze, it’s worth capturing on camera when it does. Its iced-over rock faces also add to the scene.
The dog-friendly 2.6-mile Multnomah Falls Trail will take you to the falls’ top. Also, the 13.2-mile Larch Mountain Trail starting from the Multnomah Falls Lodge lets you see the falls from Benson Bridge.
Before hiking to this frozen waterfall, wear gloves, non-skid hiking boots, and plenty of layers. Hiking poles are also a must because of how much snow accumulates during a storm. And because Multnomah Falls is the most-visited recreation site, come in the morning to avoid crowds.
Frozen Waterfall Hikes in the Midwest
7. Cataract Falls
Indiana’s largest waterfall by volume is Cataract Falls, located in the Lieber State Recreation Area. Along Mill Creek is the 40-foot-tall Upper Falls and the 30-foot-tall Lower Falls. Over the winter, they slowly freeze over.
Hike to this frozen waterfall via the dog-friendly 1.7-mile Ed Dailey Nature Trail and capture this photogenic sight. You’ll pass both the Upper and Lower Falls on this paved trail.
If you want to pause your hike, stop at Mill Creek’s covered bridge, where you’ll still see the frozen falls. Wait for the sun to shine so the iced-over falls will glisten in your pictures!
8. Tahquamenon Falls
The 48-foot Upper Falls barely freeze entirely during the winter, while the smaller Lower Falls freeze during winter’s peak. Despite a flowing stream of water on the Lower Falls, it’s still a beautiful sight. The River Trail is the best way to hike near this frozen waterfall, as it’s settled between both sets.
The River Trail isn’t maintained in winter, and with it being a difficult 4 miles, tread carefully in good hiking boots. Hold onto the railings as you go up and down the trail’s stairs, and bring snowshoes along for some off-path hiking!
Frozen Waterfall Hikes in the Southeast
9. Dry Falls
Located in Nantahala National Forest, Dry Falls is a popular 75-foot-tall waterfall on the East Coast. On the manmade 0.4-mile trail, hikers can walk behind this frozen waterfall. Unlike in the warmer seasons, hikers won’t get wet from the spray of the waterfall.
In the winter, the water freezes after flowing over the ledge, creating beautiful formations above the river. Much of the water freezes into icicles on the rock ceiling, so avoid going under them. If the trail is closed, you may see the falls from a nearby observation platform.
Behind and near the waterfall, black ice is an issue. Even if the terrain doesn’t look icy, tread carefully on this frozen waterfall hike, especially on the stairs. Fortunately, similar to Thunderbird Falls’ trail, this one has handrails for support.
10. Fall Creek Falls
At Tennessee’s most popular state park is the 256-foot-tall Fall Creek Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern US. It’s the best place to visit during the winter since, unlike Tennessee’s multiple waterfalls and cascades, this one nearly freezes.
Fall Creek Falls may not freeze completely, but the snow and ice covering it is a sight to see. On the dog-friendly 1.2-mile Gorge Overlook Trail, you can see this from the falls’ peak or base.
Though the terrain is rocky, the hike is good for almost all ages. However, due to the trail being more than an hour long, some kids may not like the extensive hiking time. Fortunately, the 0.8-mile Woodland Trail within Gorge Overlook takes a shorter time and is an easier route.
11. Glory Hole Falls
Glory Hole Falls is a hidden 31-foot-tall waterfall in Ozark National Forest. Instead of water flowing over an overhanging rock, it flows through it. When winter freezes the circular cascade, it becomes a suspended ice column.
Your frozen waterfall hike to Glory Hole Falls takes place on a 1.8-mile trail that travels downhill. Along the way, you’ll see ice walls before reaching the hole where the water from Dismal Creek flows through the rock.
At the trail’s end, you’re beneath the rock, witnessing the frozen spectacle and icicle-covered bluffs. Watch for ice patches as you hike near this frozen waterfall!
Frozen Waterfall Hikes in the Northeast
12. Eternal Flame Falls
Orchard Park, NY
Eternal Flame Falls is a one-of-a-kind 35-foot-tall waterfall at Chestnut Ridge Park. Behind the falls is a grotto that displays a small flickering flame from the bedrock’s gas pockets. The sight adds a little warmth and color to a wintry landscape.
The steep 1.2-mile trail is dog-friendly and can be a slippery and dangerous frozen waterfall hike in winter. Even if you’re wearing proper hiking shoes, avoid the trail if it’s overcrowded, especially if you brought your dog along.
13. Arethusa Falls
Hart’s Location, NH
Arethusa Falls of Crawford Notch State Park is one of New England’s tallest single-drop waterfalls at 160 feet. It’s also referred to as Tuckerman Falls due to how close it is to the park’s Tuckerman Ravine. As a wall of ice in winter, it’s popular for ice climbers.
The scenic 1.5-mile Arethusa Falls Trail contains mixed evergreens and deciduous forests that you can snowshoe through. To extend the hike, the trail’s fork includes the 2.8-mile Bemis Brook Trail, which rejoins the Arethusa Falls Trail. Ultimately, you’ll reach the waterfall’s base.
Whichever route you take when hiking to this frozen waterfall, you’ll face steep terrains that warrant hiking poles.
Freeze With Awe on These Frozen Waterfall Hikes!
Snow and ice tend to spoil some activities, but you’ll forget that while hiking near frozen waterfalls in the U.S. Bundle up, grab your hiking poles, and trek to a perpetually moving piece of nature frozen in place! You won’t resist pausing your hike to take in the mesmerizing view.