10 Stunning Waterfall Hikes with your Hound

Posted by Billy Francis

This article was updated in September 2020.

Few activities are more suited to dogs and their owners than hiking. Fido’s in his element running along trails, weaving through bushes and getting muddied up. It’s even better when your trek through the wilderness ends with the payoff of a majestic waterfall. The tumbling water, roaring cascade and refreshing spray make for one of nature’s finest spectacles. Grab your pup’s leash, lace up your hiking boots and set off on one of these spectacular waterfall hikes.

1. Multnomah Falls

Bridal Veil, OR
"Don't go chasing tennis balls."

Oregon’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls, is just a 30-minute drive from Portland. Start your hike at Multnomah Falls Lodge, a historic building that dates back to 1925, and make your way to the first viewpoint of the falls. It’s arguably the best view in the national scenic area. The tiered plume of water cascades over a section of the Columbia River Gorge from an impressive height of 627 feet. Continue up to Benson Bridge to see sections of the falls above and below the bridge, and glance to the west for a view of Shady Creek Falls in the distance. From here, the trail takes a steeper incline before it reaches Multnomah Falls Upper Viewpoint and the dizzying sight of the crashing water below.

Multnomah Falls is rated as moderately difficult. There are two million human visitors (and thousands of doggy tourists) annually, so expect crowds when you visit. The best time of year to visit is from April to October. Stay among the lush evergreen forests of Oregon’s high country by booking a pet-friendly room at Mount Hood Oregon Resort.

2. Cedar Falls

Morrilton, AR
“Now, I know there’s a waterfall around here somewhere.” Photo by @auggie_aussie18

Dogs and their owners are welcome to get up close and personal with one of Arkansas’ most impressive waterfalls on the Cedar Falls Trail in Petit Jean State Park. One of the most popular trails in the state, it’s highly trafficked, so you should keep Fido on a close leash at all times. The rocky hike takes you alongside Cedar Creek and over a footbridge. Scramble across smooth rocks and get to within feet of the cascade when you arrive.

Cedar Falls Trail is rated as moderately difficult. To witness the falls in all their splendor, visit during the wet season in April and May. After all that exercise, put your feet up by the fire at this rustic four-bedroom cabin with a fire pit and grill area.

3. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, NY
"That hike was great! Can you carry me home now, Jimmy?" Photo by @jimmy_diliberto

Grab a barrel, Fido. We’re heading to Niagara Falls State Park, home to one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. Start your trek at the Niagara Gorge Trailhead, the gateway to a network of trails in the park. Dogs are not allowed inside any of the buildings in the park, but they can hike with you on pathways that lead to epic views of the falls. Try the Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike, which can be completed by all levels of hikers in about an hour.

Summer is the best time to visit the falls. After a full day’s exploration, spend the night in a pet-friendly hotel in Niagara Falls. The Giacomo Hotel is walking distance from the falls and has a grassy area right next to the building.

4. Minnehaha Falls

Lakemont, GA
Ice, ice, baby! Photo by @shiba_inu_taichi_miyu

Canines with Georgia on their mind will love the Minnehaha Falls Trail in Rabun County. This is one of the shorter hikes on our list at under half a mile there and back, making it accessible to most levels of hiker. The waterfall’s unique staircase-like structure makes for a great photo op from the bottom step with the water tumbling toward you. Don’t forget to pack your pup’s banjo for some dueling at the “Deliverance” filming location in nearby Lake Rabun.

The best time to visit Minnehaha is in fall, when the autumn leaves float gently down to the water below. From here, you’re about 40 minutes by car from the lovely Alpine town of Helen. Book a room at the pet-friendly Red Star Lodge, a spacious mountain retreat with stunning views, and explore this Bavarian outpost in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

5. Bridal Veil Falls

Telluride, CO
“Can you quit journaling and get the treats out?” Photo by @k_tesmer

The tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls stands at an impressive foot for every day of the year (that’s a human year of 365 days, Fido). The nearly five-mile out-and-back trail can get busy at times, but dealing with the crowds is worth it for the awesome views of the waterfall and the vast countryside beyond. Just above the crest of the waterfall sits a historic hydroelectric power plant constructed in 1907. The trail to the top is a wide gravelly path also used by off-road vehicles, so keep an eye out for oncoming traffic and make sure your pooch is close by your side.

The best time to visit Bridal Veil Falls is during the summer months, as avalanches of snow can restrict access during the winter. The trail is rated as moderately difficult. Your furry guide deserves a good night’s rest after leading you to the falls. Mountain Lodge at Telluride offers treats, beds and comfy accommodations in mountain surroundings.

6. Starved Rock State Park

Oglesby, IL
Slobbery smooch selfie. Photo by @grace_luttrell

Deep in the wilds of backcountry Illinois, you’ll find Starved Rock State Park on the banks of the Illinois River. Brimming with canyons and falls (14 of them), this area is a dream for waterfall chasers. Starved Rock and Sandstone Point Overlook Trail is a 4.3-mile loop that features mini canyons, beaches along the river, and places to view the waterfalls that seem to appear out of nowhere, plummeting from high bluffs into watering holes below.

The summer months, which are also pretty rainy in Illinois, are the best time to visit this state park to guarantee that the tumbling falls will be active. The trail is rated as moderately difficult. Spend the night in a pet-friendly pioneer cabin at Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, located just minutes from the park.

7. Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park, CA
“Is this one of those tiny homes they keep talking about?” Photo by Facebook.com/YosemiteNPS

One of Yosemite’s most iconic images is the breathtaking sight of Bridalveil Falls. Sound familiar? Not surprisingly, it’s a common name for waterfalls. The Bridalveil Fall Trail is only a half-mile there and back, and leads to a gorgeous overlook of the 620-foot waterfall. Dog owners will also appreciate that the trail is paved, so there’ll be no scuffed paws on sharp rocks.

The best time of year to visit Bridalveil Falls is in early spring, when the flow is most powerful. The trail is for hikers of all levels. Book a pet-friendly spot at North Pines Campground, located in Yosemite Valley, and explore this incredible national park with your pup.

8. Cummins Falls

Cookeville, TN
“Don’t think I won’t sue you if you drop me, Amanda!” Photo by @amandalako

Tennessee has an abundance of beautiful pet-friendly hikes, but there’s something truly magical about Cummins Falls State Park. The highlight of the two-mile loop is the stunning waterfall, where the water glides over staggered rocks from a height of 75 feet before plunging into an idyllic swimming hole. Fido is welcome to splash around before heading back.

The best time to visit Cummins Falls is during the summer, although it can get very busy. The trail is rated as moderate. Make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast and only attempt this hike on dry days due to flash floods. With panoramic views of both lake and woods, the rustic and pet-friendly Cabin by Bear Lake offers weary travelers a place to relax after a day of hiking.

9. Arethusa Falls

Bartlett, NH
“Man, I wish I’d worn socks.” Photo by @nalathepupperino

With more than 4,000 miles of trails, New Hampshire is a diverse stomping ground for hikers of all levels. Arethusa Falls is a pet-friendly hike that comes highly recommended by even the most seasoned outdoor adventurers in the Granite State. Take a detour toward Bemis Brook early into the 2.8-mile out-and-back hike. This little side path leads to a couple of pretty waterfalls along the way. After exploring these warm-up falls, rejoin the main trail to reach Arethusa Falls. The picturesque cascade is framed by trees on either side.

Arethusa Falls is best visited during the fall, when the leaves are changing color. The hike is moderately difficult. After your trek, feel the warmth of home at Marriott North Conway.

10. Dry Falls

Highlands, NC
"You didn't tell me Dry Falls would be so wet!" Photo by @evrobpaul

Highlands is a quaint little mountain town in North Carolina that draws tourists from far and wide, thanks to its souvenir shops, the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and no less than five scenic waterfalls. Dry Falls is unlike the other destinations on our list because you can actually walk behind the curtain of water with your dog. The easy trail is just a quarter mile in length and allows most levels of hikers to feel the cooling spray of the fall on a hot day. It may only be a short hike, but the gushing water flowing over your head is an experience not to be missed.

Dry Falls is best visited in the summer months, when the water provides cooling relief from the sun. Enjoy a few more nights and the array of hikes around Highlands with a stay at the pet-friendly Highlands House Bed and Breakfast.

Have you taken your dog on a waterfall hike? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Rachel Baskerville on Unsplash.