Hiking NJ: Buttermilk Falls Trail
The Buttermilk, within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, is one of the tallest waterfalls in New Jersey. This single drop waterfall is about 85 feet high. The waterfall is also one of New Jersey’s popular hiking spots in the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Not only is it popular to hikers and bird-watchers, but now-days it’s very hip with your average-day person that just wants to take a picture of the beautiful Buttermilk Falls.
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The Buttermilk Falls (Layton, NJ) Directions
The Buttermilk Falls is located on Mountain Rd. in by the Walpack Fish and Wildlife area in the Walpack Township. The waterfalls are also near PA, so those living in southeastern PA can make a great outdoor day by visiting the Buttermilk Falls.
The waterfall is located right next to the parking lot on Mountain Rd. During the good weather and summer season, the waterfall gets crowded. It’s a very popular spot for personal and Instagram picture taking.
For the avid hikers, most visitors only stay around the parking lot and don’t actually do the Buttermilk Falls hike up to the Appalachian Trail and/or Crater Lake and Hemlock Pond. So, don’t get discouraged when you see a large crowd of people around the waterfall, just get early enough to avoid the heat and traffic.
Note: The Mountain Rd. parking lot is wheelchair accessible, so everyone can see the Buttermilk Falls. However, the Buttermilk Falls trail, middle, and upper viewing platforms are NOT wheelchair accessible.
Best time to see the Buttermilk Falls?
After a rainfall. Spring and early fall when there are frequent rainfalls is the best time to see the Buttermilk Falls. During the summer season, the water flow is lower due to hot temperatures and water evaporation.
Can you bring your dog?
Yes, you can bring your dog to the Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey and within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. It’s a carry-in-carry-out area, so clean up after your pets.
Hiking Trail Guides at the Delaware Water Gap
Buttermilk Falls Trail (2.8 miles loop, Moderate – Difficult)
The Buttermilk Falls trailhead and hike starts from the bottom of the waterfall. The trail takes hikers and admirers of the waterfall uphill using the steep stairs located left of the waterfall to the middle and upper viewing platforms.
Both viewing platforms offer beautiful and scenic views of the waterfall. Even though the stairs might be tough for some people, the upper platform presents a memorable view of the cascade waterfall from above and the nature around you.
Buttermilk Falls Trail to the Appalachian Trail (AT)
Warning: The Buttermilk Falls trail that goes past the waterfall and connects to the Appalachian Trail is not for everyone. This is a trail for advanced hikers and some very fit moderate ones.
If you do decide to continue on to the Buttermilk Falls trail, be mentally and physically prepared for a drastic increase in elevation. It also has a natural, uneven and rocky terrain.
From the upper viewing platform, you will have to pass over a small wooden bridge to continue on the Buttermilk Falls trail. Immediately, a very steep hill follows where there will be another drastic increase of elevation. I believe by the top of the hill it was around 800ft above elevation and the overall highest elevation is around 1100ft.
Appalachian Trail (AT)
The Buttermilk Falls trail intersects within a mile and a half with the well-known Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT).
For those that have the stamina to continue and want to further explore Delaware Water Gap, you can continue on the Appalachian trail for another mile to reach Crater Lake and even further to the Hemlock Pond.
Crater Lake (0.9 miles, Easy-Moderate)
Crater Lake, less than a mile away from the Buttermilk Falls trail, can be reached using the Appalachian Trail.
The trail loop around the lake is a little bit less than 2 miles with an easy to moderate terrain. Crater lake is a great resting spot for those that want to continue on to Hemlock Pond, for picture taking, or picnics.
Hemlock Pond (0.7 miles from Crater Lake, Easy-Moderate)
With less than a mile away from Crater Lake, Hemlock Pond is located within the Delaware Water Gap.
Here, most hikers take some time to relax, cool off their feet in the pond, and later turn back from Hemlock Pond to go back to the Buttermilk Falls trail. With a loop trail of about 6 miles from Buttermilk Falls to Hemlock Pond, it can take an average hiker 3 to 4 hours to complete the round trip.
Further Hiking Advice for the Buttermilk Falls Trail
If you decide to hike the Buttermilk Falls trail after a recent rainfall, even if it’s not the summer season with high temperatures, the forest does get humid. Many find it to be a very difficult hike after a rainfall due to the humidity and heavy elevation increase.
Last time I went on this hike with my dog Parker after a rainy night in New Jersey, he had a tough time breathing while hiking in the forest. At one point he ended up dropping in the biggest pool of mud he could find to cool himself off. Of course, we cut the hike short to keep him safe.
Lastly, bring plenty of water, change of clothes, and protein bars to keep yourself hydrated, dry, and you’re your blood sugar up. I would also recommend going early in the morning to avoid the heat.
You can grab our free hiking checklist to remind yourself to bring the essentials on your next hiking adventure.
The Buttermilk Falls Trailhead Map
Get a high-resolution Appalachian Trail map, including the Buttermilk Falls Trailhead, from the Delaware Water Gap National Park Services site here.