Most people automatically think of the Boston area when Massachusetts is mentioned, but the Bay Area is only part of what the commonwealth is all about. Jump on the Mass Pike and head west, and you will feel as if you have entered an entirely different world! Almost all the way to New York State you will find the Berkshire Mountains, also known as the Berkshire Hills. In the Berkshires, you will discover an incredible natural wonder: Bash Bish Falls. Located on Mt. Washington, Bash Bish Falls is beautiful and mysterious at the same time.
Bash Bish Falls
Bash Bish Falls is the highest waterfall in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. At the most dramatic point, it is 80 feet. The rocks then separate the water, and there are twin falls that are about 60 feet high. The rocks split the falls even more on the way down, creating several more falls that are smaller. The source of the falls is a spring on Mt. Washington. The water will eventually flow into the Hudson River.
If you want to see Bash Bish Falls for yourself, you will need to hike to get there. The main trail is a moderate hike. If you are in good shape you should not have a problem with it. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended. There is another trail that is near the top of the falls. This trail can be dangerous because of slippery, jagged rocks. It is not recommended for children or for those who are not in good shape.
There is no parking along the trail, but there are lots where you can leave your car that are not far away. In Massachusetts, you can park in a lot that is about a third of a mile from the base of the falls. There is also a parking lot that is located just across the New York State border. That lot is about two-thirds of a mile from the falls.
While Bash Bish Falls is beautiful, there are also dangers. In the past 100 years, there have been at least 25 deaths attributed to the falls. Some of the deaths were because people slipped. There are barriers in place to keep people safe, but too often visitors have decided to cross those barriers to try to get a better look. Other deaths were from drownings. Swimming is strictly prohibited, but that does not stop many people. Some have even died from diving off of the falls, not realizing that the water in the pool below is shallow.
Because of the deaths, AOL Travel named Bash Bish Falls one of the “Most Dangerous Tourist Attractions” in the United States and one of the ten “most dangerous travel destinations” in the world. These designations were given in 2009 and 2010, respectively. Additional precautions have since been taken, but visitors are still advised to use extreme caution at all times.
Bash Bish Falls has a legend surrounding it, one that dates back generations. It is also how the falls got its name. A beautiful young Mohican woman named Bash-Bish was falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death. She was to be bound and sent over the falls in a canoe. As her execution drew new, a group of butterflies appeared and flew around her head. She dove into the falls, and her body was never found.
Years later White Swan, the daughter of Bash-Bish, was not able to conceive. Her husband was given another wife so that he could have children through her. White Swan had a dream of Bash-Bish, a dream in which she was to join her mother. White Swan decided to sit next to the falls to wait for a sign. Her husband found her and he had a gift for her, a single white butterfly. White Swan took that as her sign, and she dove into the falls. Her husband dove in after her in an attempt to save her, and he was immediately killed. His body was recovered, but like her mother before her, White Swan’s body was never found. There is no proof that the legend is true, but many people believe it.
Each season is different at Bash Bish Falls. The summer months are the busiest, and the trails are filled with green. You might discover wildlife along the way. If you visit during the winter make sure you check the forecast before you leave, and let someone know where you will be. The area is beautiful in the winter, but the footing can be even more tricky and the temperature can drop suddenly. In the autumn you will be able to enjoy the spectacular fall colors. Make sure you check to see when the fall foliage will be at its peak! The crowds are lighter in the fall, and the temperatures can be more comfortable. Some people say that spring is the best time to visit. Not only will you see the trees budding and the spring flowers, you will see the falls at their busiest. As the snow melts all that water needs to go somewhere, and the runoff makes the falls more dramatic.
Bash Bish Falls State Park
Bash Bish Falls is part of Bash Bish Falls State Park. The physical address is Falls Road, Mt. Washington, MA, 01258. The area is also part of Mt. Washington State Forest. The park is open daily from sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset. Guests are asked to check the weather forecast before arriving, since the weather can change drastically during the day. Dogs are allowed on the trails, but they need to be leashed. There are restrooms at the park. There are several restrictions that guests need to abide by when visiting Bash Bish Falls. Many of these are for their safety. Swimming is not allowed, even in areas where the water seems calm. There is also no diving allowed. Alcohol is prohibited. Visitors are not allowed to go into the gorge, this is for their safety. Another activity that is prohibited for safety is climbing on the rocks. Guests are expected to carry out anything that they carry in with them, and to leave no litter behind.