Good Life

Water, Water Everywhere

These waterfalls, all located in national parks, are well worth the trek

Waterfalls are beautiful to look at. But they also may have a mood-boosting benefit: Some scientists theorize that because waterfalls release negative ions that go into the bloodstream, which increases the production of serotonin, gazing at them may make you feel happier. With that in mind, Here are some breathtaking waterfall hikes that are likely to put a smile on your face.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

This national park offers six spectacular waterfall hikes.

One of the most scenic treks is the one that leads you to the dazzling 67-foot-high Rose River Falls, which plunges down, creating a series of tranquil swimming holes. Native flowers, birds, deer and lush foliage provide additional ambiance. After a cool dip, you can hike another quarter mile to the scenic Dark Hollow Falls, which is the closest scenic falls to Skyline Drive, a hot spot for leaf peeping in the fall.

PRO TIP: After a day of strenuous activity, enjoy a hearty dinner in the Spottswood Dining Room at Big Meadows Lodge. The restaurant’s pet-friendly outdoor terrace is open for summertime dining, and the adjacent meadow is a stargazer’s paradise.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

In ancient times, Cuyahoga’s Brandywine Creek was carved into solid rock to create the stunning Brandywine Falls. A combination of boardwalk and steps enables you to view the 60-foot falls head-on. Once you’ve spent some time enjoying the waterfall, continue on the Brandywine Gorge Trail, which boasts a more rugged surface filled with rocks and roots. The landscape around the trail transforms as well, and you’ll find yourself immersed in thick forest, accented by captivating geologic formations.

PRO TIP: Hotels dot the area, but if you’re looking for authentic accommodations, check in to The Inn at Brandywine Falls, a cozy structure dating from the 1800s that’s on the National Historic Register.

HaleakalĀ National Park, Hawaii

Wear sturdy shoes and bring water, sunscreen and mosquito repellant to prepare for the two-and-a-half-hour hike to Haleakalā’s Waimoku Falls, on Maui. On the way, you pass through a whistling bamboo forest with seven smaller pools and falls. As you near Waimoku’s 400-foot drop, its thunderous crescendo will assault your ears (in a good way), as the waterfall drops down a sheer lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool.

PRO TIP: Stay overnight in one of the area’s rustic wilderness cabins, which start at $75/night.

Katmai National Park and Preserve. Alaska

At six feet high, Katmai’s Brooks Falls isn’t known for its height – but what it lacks in elevation, it makes up for in spectacle. The main attraction is the area’s grizzlies, who slip and slide through the falls’ rocky obstacles, fishing for salmon. Enjoy safe viewing via a two-tier platform that accommodates up to 40 visitors at scheduled times.

PRO TIP: The easiest way to get here is via a charter flight from King Salmon or Anchorage; flights start at $290. July is the most popular month for viewing, so be sure to reserve well in advance.