Bash Bish Falls
Ratings : Power - Beauty - Ease of Access -
Bash Bish Falls is considered to be the highest waterfall in the state of Massachusetts. It is also one of the most dramatic, falling 80 feet in steep leaping cascades around large boulders. Just over the border from New York, the closest town to Bash Bish Falls is Copake Falls, New York, in which the "Falls" part of the town's name refers to Bash Bish which is about 2000 feet upstream from the town.
The most memorable feature of Bash Bish Falls is the final, most easily viewed section where the two major cascades that form the falls free-fall the remaining 45 feet or so into a large pool, creating a gigantic letter-V out of water. Surrounded by sheer 100-foot rock cliffs, the pool soon empties through a set of tumultuous rapids on one side of the pool. The entire site is breathtaking, especially when viewed from the large rock outcropping connected to the path that juts into the middle of the pool. To one side of the pool, several small streams also fall in several delicate cascades into the pool as well, adding a more intimate feel to the falls. All in all, this waterfall is a pretty incredible place to visit.
One unfortunate side to the waterfall's impressive appearance is the numbers of people that it attracts. The waters of the pool under the falls are far too dangerous to swim in, but often there are people walking all over the rough rock slabs next to the pool that serve as the viewing area for the falls. These crowds only appear on beautiful days on the weekends, but it is still preferable to visit this waterfall before 9 or 10 in the morning to enjoy and photograph the falls undistracted by screaming children.
The falls can be reached in several ways. There are two parking lots for the falls, one which is next to the falls and the other which is located at the top of the hill above the falls. While the lower parking lot should be used if it is open, it is usually closed so the upper lot must be used. Facing away from the road, trails lead off from the left and the right of the lot. Take the dirt trail on the right. It continues downhill for some ways and eventually ends in the lower parking lot for the falls. Note that the trail on the left of the upper parking lot is better-defined but it does NOT lead directly to the falls. Instead, it goes down a hill and then parallels the river until it reaches the top of the falls. There is no view from the top of the falls. At this point, it turns right and follows a fence up a very steep hill. Eventually, the fence turns back down the steep hill and eventually leads to the falls. This route is very strenuous and not really very exciting.
At the falls, be sure and walk a short ways downstream to see the rapids below the falls. Beware of walking near the edge of the bank, however. The current is very swift at this point and a slippery rock in the wrong position could easily cause you to fall in. Likewise, do not swim in the pool below the falls for the same reason.
Curiously enough, this falls does not photograph well at all. I have not seen (or taken for that matter) a really good photograph that captures the feeling of the falls. Perhaps you can do better than I can.
Total distances : 1.0 miles over moderate terrain.
Other Nearby Waterfalls : Two unnamed cascades along the way from Great Barrington to Bash Bish Falls
Bash Bish Falls with a strangely luminescent green pool
(the water is usually tea-colored due to the tannic acid leached from the pine trees)
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