Police briefly detained the man before quickly releasing him Wednesday evening after determining what had happened. An ambulance took him to the hospital, where he was treated before being released.
The Maywood man said he and a friend had visited the nearby Paterson Museum before heading over to the falls.
"I got curious -- I was an idiot," he said Thursday.
"There'a little walkway that brings you down," he added. "I crossed over a short railing and was looking down one of the crevices that goes into the falls when I slipped on the rocks."
He landed in the water -- cellphone in hand.
"My phone went under water briefly, but it worked," he said. "I realized I had no way out, so I had to call [his friend] to tell him what was going on."
Police and firefighters arrived quickly.
A rescue team got him out near the base of the McBride Avenue side of the falls around 7 p.m.
"I'm all scraped and bruised, especially my left side," the man said.
Also bruised was his pride, especially after some friends saw photos of the brief moment when he was in handcuffs while police determined that he wasn't a troublemaker. They let him go without even getting his name.
"My stupidity crossing over the railing," he told Daily Voice. "Not my proudest moment."
Click here to follow Daily Voice South Passaic and receive free news updates.