Waterfalls are an awe-inspiring thing to hike to. Whether it's a cascade of water that's descending from hundreds of feet in the air, or lower, roaring falls that remind a person of how powerful Mother Nature can be. Many set against dramatic backdrops of mountains and cliffsides, with sparkling pools of water or vast rapids below, they're some of the most unique water features on earth. And, luckily, the U.S. is home to many of them.

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Hiking goals vary from person to person and while some people reach great heights by summiting a mountain, others prefer to get views from below. When it comes to waterfalls, some of the greatest, and most humbling, moments are when a hiker rounds the corner and comes face to face with such a landscape. They're often heard long before they're found, and even this subtle alert that says 'I'm here, keep going a little further' never seems to prepare us enough to take in the beauty that sits before us. Extra effort isn't needed for these hikes, though - simply follow the trails and enjoy the view.

DeSoto Falls Trail, Georgia

Georgia is a beautiful state to hike through, in general; not only is it home to part of the Appalachian Trail but it also holds the best of both worlds for nature lovers. From views of mountain valleys to brook and lakeside trails, it seems that there's no vista this state doesn't have for those willing to look.

The DeSoto Falls Trail is one of many stunning hikes but it's the only one that leads hikers to such a view as this. With a waterfall that spans over 300 feet across steep rocks surrounded by lush woods, the landscape hikers will find is like something out of a storybook. The best part about this trail is that it's only two miles long and takes hikers through some of the most picturesque settings in the DeSoto Falls Recreation Area.

Mist Trail California

Thanks to the reputation of Yosemite National Park, this area attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. There are countless areas to explore throughout this park with many people heading for great heights in order to see great views, all the while forgetting about one that requires hikers remain planted firmly below it.

Mist Trail isn't an overly challenging hike but it does take hikers up a set of rock stairs just adjacent to the beautiful Vernal Fall, which cascades down 317 feet to the bottom. This hike is one of the most popular for waterfall seekers and starts at Happy Isles. After ascending on this trail, hikers will get views of this stunning waterfall and have the option to climb an additional 600 feet in order to see Nevada Fall which is almost double in size.

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Hanging Lake Trail, Colorado

Colorado is known for its dramatic mountain hikes at high elevations and this is where Hanging Lake Trail gets set apart from the rest. While Glenwood Springs is a mountain town, it's the waterfall within the town that we have our sights set on.

Hanging Lake is home to 72 cliffsides surrounded by shallow pools of water that are so clear you can see to the bottom. While the area itself does require a paid permit for entrance, it's worth it for this 1.2-mile trek that leads hikers to the Glenwood Canyon. The hike is steep and rocky but its short length makes up for its terrain.

Kaaterskill Falls, New York

Kaaterskill Falls might seem like a humble cascade at 260 feet but its setting, and its gentle nature, are breathtaking. The landscape surrounding this waterfall is so beautiful that it has even been the subject of many poems and paintings by famed artists, and has been called the 'American Eden' according to Frommers.

This waterfall cascades down to the pool below in two parts and can be found after a mile and a half hike through Kaaterskill Wild Forest near Hunter, New York. The precise location of the waterfall is right off Laurel Hill Road and can be found by its viewing platform, which is the start of the descent to the base of the waterfall. The hike itself is not rated as difficult but does provide a moderate level of exertion, and hikers will want to be aware of the conditions of the trail as it's so close to the often moist conditions surrounding the waterfall. Supposedly, the area surrounding this waterfall is also haunted by a phantom dog that's said to bark in the area on June 19th, specifically.

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