Highlights: Views, tallest waterfall in Massachusetts (60 feet)
Distance: 1.0 miles, up-and-back
Approximate roundtrip time: 1 hour
Total ascent: 346 ft
Max elevation: 1,330 ft above sea level
This hike is for you if: You want a short hike to a nice little overlook and an awesome waterfall.
Background you can feel free to skip: “Dude, you’re supposed to be at the Bash Bish parking lot. Where are you?” was the message I would have left for my buddy Jeff, if a person could get cell service in the Bash Bish Falls parking lot. Instead, my lifeless phone just stared back at me, unable to help.
Jeff was coming from Massachusetts, I was coming from New York, and we were going to meet at Bash Bish Falls on the state line before tackling nearby Mt. Alander later in the day.
As it turned out, Bash Bish has two parking lots, one in Massachusetts and one in New York, separated by about a mile. If you plan to meet someone at Bash Bish Falls, you’d do well to choose which state you’re going to meet in.
From the New York parking lot, the walk is an easy, flatter 1.5-mile roundtrip stroll. The walk from the Massachusetts parking lot is much shorter and steeper, and it’s the one I’ll write up below.
After 30 minutes of waiting in the New York lot, I drove up the road to find the Massachusetts lot with Jeff patiently waiting in it. We both enjoyed the hike from that spot, so it’s the one I’m recommending here, plus it has an extra little view that the New York lot doesn’t have.
If you’d prefer to do a flatter, slightly longer stroll (1.5 miles instead of 1.0, roundtrip), all you really need is the trailhead for the New York lot (which you can find using the Bash Bish Falls (NY trailhead) entry on the HiketheHudsonValley.com Google map), and it’s a piece of cake from there. There’s a wide trail with a huge informational display and map kiosk marking the trailhead. This trail also meanders along Bash Bish Creek, which makes for a pleasant little hike.
If you’d like to descend and then climb back up a hill on your way to the falls, see the write-up below for the walk from the MA trailhead. Either way, you’ll be glad you paid Bash Bish Falls a visit.
1. From the Massachusetts parking lot, head to the back-left corner of the lot, where you’ll see a small sign directing you uphill to a SCENIC VIEW. Hop on that trail, which will cost you perhaps 10-minutes for the roundtrip if you severely dilly dally.
2. Guide wires keep you from tumbling off the edge of the trail. Just head uphill for a couple of minutes and you’ll get to the end of the trail, corralled on all sides by the guide wires. You’re now looking straight down Bash Bish Gorge. Nice spot.
3. After taking in the view, head back down to the parking lot.
4. With your back to the trail you just came down (you’re now facing the road), turn left and go to the far end of the parking lot to begin your descent to the falls. Some signs and a kiosk mark the entrance, along with a warning that if you’re looking for a flat stroll, you should drive down to the NY trailhead. Since you’re hard core, you’ll just walk right past it.
5. Follow the blue blazes downhill
, over a cool little bridge that spans a burbling creek.
** UPDATE November 5, 2014 ** According to Jocelyn’s very helpful comment, the trail has been re-routed here since my last visit, and you simply follow the blue blazes all the way down to the falls, without visiting the little footbridge or trail junction pictured below. Sounds like a more straightforward journey now — you can skip to Step 7 below, since Steps 5 and 6 are now obsolete. Thank you, Jocelyn!
6. Less than ten minutes into the hike, you come to a junction with the White Trail heading downhill to your left. With no signage indicating which way to the falls, we guessed that we should stay on the Blue Trail (as did some other hikers there that day), and we were all wrong. Turn left! The White Trail is your friend. Your friend that will bring you to the falls in about five more minutes.
(A sign pointing the way to the falls – which I’m guessing 95% of people at this junction are looking for – might be a nice addition here. That way, morons like me who didn’t read the map at the kiosk won’t get lost.)
7. Pass some more burbles as the sound of the falls becomes louder. In a few minutes, you’ll arrive at the top of a big staircase that leads down to the falls.
8. Boom. There they are, tumbling past that big rhinoceros rock and falling 60 feet into the crystal pool below.
You probably won’t be alone at this viewing spot, but who cares? A destination like this deserves to draw a crowd.
9. When you’re done lazing about on the rocks and soaking in the view and the mist, retrace your steps to return to your car, taking the
White Trail to a right turn on the Blue Trail all the way up, climbing just over 300 vertical feet. Man, was it this steep on the way down?
Directions to the trailhead: From Millerton, NY, head north on Route 22 for 12 miles. Turn right onto NY 344 (one of several roads also marked as “Old Rt. 22”), and follow signs to stay on 344, which becomes Falls Road as you get close to Massachusetts. In about a mile, you’ll see the Taconic State Park on your right, which is the NY trailhead for Bash Bish Falls (there are often orange cones on the center line here). Continue about one more mile as the road twists and climbs up to the MA trailhead, which is clearly marked on your right after a sharp right curve.
Sorta nearby address for your GPS: The Copake Falls Post Office is about two miles from the MA trailhead, and a mile from the NY trailhead. Its address is:
109 State Route 344
Copake Falls, NY
Just keep heading east on 344 and you’ll be there in a couple minutes.
Related resources: If you’re looking for actual facts and/or useful information, visit these resources:
- The MassParks Bash Bish Falls page
- The NYS Parks Taconic State Park page
- Some informative Yelp reviews on Bash Bish Falls
- A nice About.com article on the falls
- The brief Bash Bish Wikipedia entry
- Some nice autumn pics on this site
- Another nice shot on flickr
More Bash Bish Falls pictures from the hike’s Picasa album:
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