Location: Mass/New York
Difficulty (for little feet): Moderate
Summary: When we started hiking together frequently, I quickly learned there are few things more appealing to young boys than waterfalls and rivers. We don't have too many falls in our immediate vicinity so I started a search for these spouts of beauty within driving distance. Time and again, Bash Bish Falls State Park came up as one of the most beautiful and iconic falls in the New England area, so we hopped in the car and made the trip.
The first trip, we drove past the New York lot (lower elevation) and continued up Falls Rd. to the Massachusetts lot. We scrambled up the steep rocks to try and catch a glimpse of the falls from the top but to no avail. These scrambles weren't really for little feet and I couldn't see any clear trail that would lead to an overlook so after 15 minutes of searching we made our way to the trailhead.
The Massachusetts line was a relatively steep descent in decadently spacious woods the offered both pine and hardwoods but no overwhelming underbrush. The trail was wide and loose rock to start and turned into some single track with a few technical elements toward the middle and bottom.
It is a beautiful and wondrously short hike (probably only .25 miles or less) that spits you out after a long set of earthen stairs onto the falls overlook. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I took of my pack to see my youngest son unresponsive and turning blue. He had not choked and there were no visible signs of a problem (no stings, no struggling, etc.). Long story short, my deepest gratitude goes to the ranger (I can't remember her name) and Officer Mezza who were nearby. They called for an ambulance and when it arrived, roughly 20 minutes later, Little Bear was coming back around.
After a trip to the hospital, there were still no real answers and the best we came away with is that perhaps he just fainted. He wasn't dehydrated and his blood sugar was good...so who knows. It was scary as hell and set us back a few weeks, but we were determined to return to Bash Bish Falls. (Little Bear is fine now, by the way.)
Today, we opted to try to the New York Trail, mostly to tell you guys what to expect. This trail was longer (3/4 mile) but a softer incline. There were still a few decent points of elevation gain but they didn't last long and 3/4 of a mile seemed about right for a 3-4 year old. The first half of the trail follows the river closely and offers numerous spots to veer off and play in the crystal clear water- my boys happily took advantage of this.
The trail remains wide enough for a car to pass through for it's entirety, which may add some appeal for families.
The falls itself is reached by descending a steep earthen staircase and soaking in the view from myriad large rocks and boulders. We ate our PB&J's there, beneath the falls and navigated the steep rocks to the patches of dirt that were close to level with the pool. The kids threw rocks and watched the falls from up close. Again, the water was clear and you could see to the bottom, quite an appealing sight, really.
Overall, this is a highly recommended hike. It is relatively remote, so bring lots of extra clothes, water (or a filter) and food. Pack the first aid kit in case anyone trips and most importantly, enjoy the spot. It's free to get in to the park and it open sunrise until 30 minutes after sundown. You will not regret making this a day trip!