Shinglekill Falls (Purling)
This waterfall no longer has clear public access. B&Bs now own both sides of the falls. Being a guest of either is the best way, that we know of, to see it. Read more below.
Location: In the hamlet of Purling; town of Cairo; Greene County; New York.
- Shinglekill Falls: N 42.28506 / W 74.00725
- Tumblin’ Falls House B&B: N 42.28597 / W 74.00675
- Shinglekill Falls B&B: N 42.28467 / W 74.00689
- Old Mill at the Shinglekill Falls B&B: N 42.28498 / W 74.00688
- Take US-87 South for 31 miles.
- Take exit 21 towards NY-23-Catskill/Cairo
- Turn right onto NY-23 west.
- Follow the directions “From Catskill” below.
- Hop on NY-23 West and follow for 7 miles.
- Turn left to exit at Silver Spur Rd E.
- Continue west on Silver Spur Rd E for 2 miles.
- At the end, make a right onto South Rd and then an immediate left onto Mountain Ave.
- The Falls and both B&Bs will be on your right within 500 ft of the turn.
Parking: There is no public parking. If you are a guest of either B&B on each side of the creek, you can park there.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Number of falls: 1
Size/Types: A 32 ft tall steep cascade down an irregular limestone cliff into a large plunge pool. The waterfall takes on various characteristics depending on flow, with lower flow usually revealing interesting rock shapes and various directions of ribbons of water. Downstream from the falls are some small riffles that aren’t large enough to be classified as waterfalls, but beautiful nonetheless.
Best time to visit: Year-round.
Flow: Low to moderate. It can be pretty dry in late summer.
Waterway: Shingle Kill (USGS maps have it as two words). Single Kill starts to the west from runoff from Acra Point in Catskill Park. It passes through Purling and then heads north to Cairo. Just north of Cairo, it empties into Catskill Creek. Catskill Creek meanders southeast to the Hudson, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean at New York City.
Time: A short walk from either Bed and Breakfast.
Seasons/Hours: The adjoining B&Bs seem to operate year round. They may have additional hours or restrictions for guest access to the falls.
Admission: Now that the falls is not accessible to the public, one has to book a stay at either of the B&Bs to gain access to the falls. ShingleKill Falls Bed & Breakfast rates for rooms are competitive. Tumblin’ Falls House seems to only offer full house rental (10 guests, 5 bedrooms, 6 beds, 4 baths) at the time of this writing. As one would guess, that’s more costly than a typical room.
Handicap Accessibility: Shinglekill Falls B&B seems to have some accessible views.
Pets: Contact the B&B owners for pet rules.
Accommodations: Tumblin’ Falls house is a full house that you can rent via AirBnB. Shinglekill Falls B&B has 2 rooms, 1 suite, and stays include breakfast. There appear to be no considerable hiking trails. There’s a roller rink across the street.
For decades, Shinglekill Falls was enjoyed as a swimming hole by the community and passers by, who accessed the falls and old mill from the road and through the old iron forge property. Today, the land surrounding the falls, and including the old mill building are privately owned, but you can still get up close with the falls by becoming a guest of one of the hosts on either side of the stream. Shinglekill Falls Bed & Breakfast is located on the east side of the falls and features a pathway down to the creek below the falls and to the gristmill. On the other side is the Tumblin’ Falls House. Its driveway comes pretty close to the falls and the rentable home is placed downstream with a distant but clear view of the falls. Both places offer overnight accommodations and pleasant amenities that include enjoying the falls or creek in one form or another.
Shinglekill Falls itself is a 32 ft tall cascade over large and uneven layers of stone. Below the falls is a large plunge pool, ideal for cooling off. Downstream the creek contracts and passes down a few smaller cascades as it passes the foundation of an old factory.
Shinglekill Falls Interactive Map
The town of Cairo was formed on March 26, 1803 from the towns of Coxsackie, Catskill and Durham (then Freehold) as the town of Canton (after the city in China). The name changed to Cairo (after the Egyptian city) on April 6, 1808, likely after petitions for a post office revealed an existing Canton in St. Lawrence County.
Enoch Hyde and Benjamin Hall (of Litchfield, Connecticut) settled in the Purling area in 1788 and constructed an iron forge along the banks of Shingle Kill. Hyde then constructed a home just up the hill. This primitive forge was replaced years later by a newer one built around where the grist mill resides today. Lucius Byington built a sawmill near here in 1808. By this time the forge business was so prominent in the region, the settlement was simply referred to as “The Forge” (or just Forge by some government maps). Iron for the forge shipped in from Ancram, NY (in Columbia County) likely via Jansen Kill, then up the Hudson, then trekked by mules the remainder of the way. A nail factory was built along the creek in the 1850s. Over the years, various small sawmills and factories to leverage the output from the forge grew the community into a strong manufacturing hub. Factories that came and went included: Grandfather Clocks (Capt. Bryngton); Spinning Wheels and Looms; Furniture (Anson Wright); Buckets (Egglestone, Porter & Ackley); Scythe (Paul Raeder); Grain Cradles (Egbert Paddock).
The settlement’s name changed officially to Purling (which means the “sound of rippling water”) in 1895.
Hyde also built a small grist mill at the site of the current one, but it was carried away by flood in 1857. It was rebuilt by Johnathan Webster, but only to be destroyed by fire shortly after. John Gallatin rebuilt the mill and this is the iteration that stands there today. By the 1940s, all of the manufacturing jobs surrounding the falls had closed.
Shinglekill Falls Media
Occupying an old factory that was once a part of the iron industry of Purling, 523 Mountain Ave served as a cabaret (The Purling Palace) for a time when the industrious hamlet was transitioning to a tourist stopover. The cabaret closed in the 1930s and William and Grace Schneider (of NYC) purchased the abandoned building in 1940 and opened it as the Cairo-Purling Roller Rink. It has been in operation possibly up until the pandemic. I can’t tell if it’s still open.