Explore the Great Falls of the Passaic River
New Jersey › Great Falls of the Passaic
Added by Loren Kessell
This is a nature walk as opposed to a strenuous hike that is perfect for anyone. The path leads to a gorgeous view of the 77 foot high falls.
Getting to the Great Falls of the Passaic River is a relatively straight shot. It is located off exit 57B on Route 80 which is also accessible from highway 287. Parking is located on McBride Avenue across the street from the park's welcome center.
Typically during autumn park rangers offer 45 to 1 hour long tours of the historical points in the park, and of course, the waterfalls. Be sure to call the park to check their hours, tour schedule, and hours of operation since it varies from season to season. Tours happen rain or shine, so wear comfortable clothing (e.g. sneakers, hiking boots, jackets, jeans).
A self-guided tour is also available via a detailed brochure for the park and a downloadable app for your smartphone. If you do not have access to phone applications you can also dial the phone number (973) 582-0654 to use the keypad to enter each stop number and then press #.
Once you park your car start the walk up the sidewalk to the left. This leads to a great view of the falls from a wide angle. Continue to the pedestrian viewing bridge to begin the actual walk toward the best view of the waterfalls. The main viewing bridge allows you to stare down into the gorge and see the cascades. The Great Falls of the Passaic River formed after glaciers cut through the basalt cliffs 13,000 years ago.
Walk further past the bridge for more of a viewing area with rock walls. This part can be somewhat congested with foot traffic, but it allows for another perspective of some of the smaller cascades. And of course some photo ops.
These waterfalls are a wonderful gem in Paterson, an urban area in New Jersey, that had history build up around them. Besides the waterfalls be sure to see the Alexander Hamilton statue, the Rosen Mill, and other points of interest listed in the brochure.
The main thing to remember with this park is to be mindful of its schedule. Operating hours may vary each season, and the park is closed during federal and city holidays. Tours occur 7 days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., but contact the park to confirm their tour schedule. Get out there and explore!
- Drawstring bag
- Water bottle
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Light jacket (during appropriate seasons)
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20 Minute Adventure
Honestly not too much to see here. Kind of surprising that this is a National Park considering its size. The falls themselves are pretty nice, but can only be viewed from afar. Definitely do not wander beyond the park limits as Paterson is not a town you want to be exploring.
Lovely little getaway from the city.
While this is not an expansive area (no actual trails, just a walk-around spot that might be good for a picnic), the waterfalls are quite something. I got up a bit closer than the vast majority of visitors - as in I found a way to get on top of one crop of the falls. The mist and spray was amazing and refreshing, and getting closer to the falls themselves definitely made this trip a million times more exciting than it could have been. I got some lovely shots, too. I imagine that, if you live or work around here, this would be THE place to go on your lunch break or after work when you just need to be around a force of nature without breaking out the trailblazing gear.
My Quiet Place
I live close by so I visit to escape for a bit. I have a very similar photo to this one on my IG. There's nothing else like it around and most people don't know about it. It is in a very urban location. The contrast between the falls and the surrounding area is pretty unreal. You can get some pretty cool photos.
Great Falls is certainly hard to pass up for the view, a perfect photo op location. Not really any trails around the falls though, and it's location isn't in the nicest of areas. Worth stopping by briefly though for the history and the view.
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