Eastern Waterfall Guide

Southford Falls Falls of the Month, August 1999

Race Brook Falls

Race Brook Falls #1 Ratings : Power - StarStar Beauty - StarStarStarStar Ease of Access - StarStarStar

Race Brook Falls, one of Massachusetts' most delicate and beautiful series of waterfalls lies in the southernmost portion of the Berkshire Mountains in Mount Everett State Reservation. It is made up of five waterfalls of varying heights and forms which cascade down Mount Everett as Race Brook rushes to join the Housatonic River. All five falls can be reached by a trail which runs from the parking lot to a campground above the falls to the Appalachian Trail itself. Because this is one of only a few Appalachian Trail access points in the southern Berkshires, most people who see the falls are not there specifically to view the falls. Instead, they are merely passing by as they hike up to Appalachian Trail.

However, the falls are well worth a visit. Race Brook #1 is easily reached and its towering cascades are some of the most majestic in southern New England. It is easily the most beautiful of the five falls and should be seen even if a visitor doesn't want to hike up to see the four upper falls. The falls are composed of three major cascades, with the uppermost falling 60 feet in delicate wispy strands into a small pool before quickly going over the second and third cascades, which are considerably shorter and more fragmented. Surrounded by hemlocks, the natural grotto-like setting of this waterfall adds immensely to its appeal. The bottom two cascades are also easily climbed to get a close-up view of the spectacular upper portion falls. To reach the falls, take the dirt path at the left of the parking area. About .3 miles down the path, it splits into two forks. The left fork leads to the Appalachian Trail and the four upper falls at a small sign that says "To the Appalachian Train via the falls". The right leads to the lower falls, eventually paralleling the stream closely.

Reaching the upper four falls is somewhat more difficult, although worth the climb. One way to reach them is to backtrack to the trail fork earlier in the trail. A more direct way, however, is to cross the stream at the bottom of the falls on rocks. From there, a path leads up steeply to the Falls Loop trail high above the first falls. The Falls Loop trail is a steep and sometimes vague trail that goes past the upper four falls. Be sure to watch for blaze marks as you go, since many times the trail seems to go one way and instead goes another. This may be due to shifting of the large rocks that make up the trail.

The top of Race Brook #4 The second falls are pretty but nothing special. They start out as a small S-shaped cascade rushing through a rock chute which then widens out to a wide and rough granite slope. The falls likewise fan out rapidly as they fall in short cascades down the slope into a small pool.

Further up the trail is Race Brook #3. While it is probably the least-visited of the five in the Race Brook series because of the difficulty of the Falls Loop trail, its unusual form makes it worthwhile to visited. It is comprised of two cascades falling through moss-covered rocks. The top cascade begins wide and, as it falls over several ledges, shrinks to about two feet wide. The second cascade then fans back out. Overall the appearance of the falls is like an hourglass. Combined with the thick cover of the tall hemlocks, this waterfall has a very peaceful and sheltered feeling.

Just above Race Brook #3 lies Race Brook #4, which is the smallest of the five falls. It is comprised of two major cascades. The top cascade fans out as it descends down the slanting rough granite face. The fan is abruptly stopped, however, as a rock chute funnels the stream down a short drop into a pool.

The top waterfall in the series, Race Brook #5 marks the point at which the Falls Loop trail and the main trail meet once again. At this point, the main trail continues on, crossing the stream and climbing further up the mountain to the Race Brook campground. This waterfall is more powerful than beautiful, falling in one stream of water that changes direction three times throughout the drop. There is no real pool at the bottom of the falls. Instead, the brook just continues for another 50 feet through a rock garden before falling over Race Brook #4.

Except for the top falls, the Race Brook series is very photogenic. The first falls is especially attractive, in part due to the different views that a visitor can see it from.

With five beautiful waterfalls and few visitors, the Race Brook series seems almost perfect. However, there are two major caveats. First of all, the trails to the top four falls are steep and perhaps not always for kids. The Falls Loop trail is especially difficult and can be frustrating because of the inconsistent blazing. The second warning is that Race Brook has a low volume which can cause it to be reduced to a trickle or even dry up completely at times. Therefore, Race Brook Falls is at its best in the winter and spring or after periods of heavy or constant rainfall.

Total distances : 1.0 miles round trip over fairly easy terrain to the first falls. 2.0 miles round trip over steep but well-maintained terrain to the top falls via the main trail. Via the Falls Loop trail, the distances are slightly shorter but the terrain is much more difficult and ill-defined.

Other Nearby Waterfalls : Bash Bish Falls

Complete List of Falls of the Month : Falls of Rocky Mountain National Park Part IV - February 2001, Falls of Rocky Mountain National Park Part III - January 2001, Falls of Rocky Mountain National Park Part II - November/December 2000, Falls of Rocky Mountain National Park Part I - June through October 2000, Bash Bish Falls - May 2000, Wadsworth Falls - March 2000, Staton's Falls - February 2000, no December or January Falls of Month (I was lazy...), Raymondskill Falls - November 1999, Linville Falls - October 1999, no September 1999 Falls of the Month, Race Brook Falls - August 1999, Blackwater Falls - July 1999, Muddy Creek Falls - June 1999, Whiteoak Canyon - May 1999, Elakala Falls - April 1999, Southford Falls - March 1999

Photos of Race Brook Falls :

Race Brook #1
Race Brook #1
Race Brook #1
Race Brook #1
Race Brook #1
Race Brook #1
Race Brook #2
Race Brook #2
Race Brook #3
Race Brook #3
Cascade on Race Brook #5
A cascade on Race Brook #5

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