Overview: Very nice waterfall with easy access. Short distance from Northampton. Location: Ashfield, MA Stream : Chapel Brook Height : Three steps, each approximately 15 feet Finding : Back roads, but not too difficult. Access : Easy. Short walk downhill to the falls over informal trail. Swimming: Some possibilities. Basking : Heavily forested, but there are some good sitting rocks. Privacy : Very little. Popular location. Legal : Owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Public access.
Chapel Brook Reservation: 128 acres of Hemlock-Northern Forest including Pony Mountain (Chapel Ledge) and Chapel Brook. The Brook drops in a series of three waterfalls, 10, 15 and 25 feet high. Owned by the Trustees of Reservations, the area has value as a wildlife habitat for hiking and picnicking & for its scenic beauty.
From Northampton, MA
Take MA route 9 west out of Northampton to the small town of Williamsburg. This is a fairly short distance: only a few miles. In the center of Williamsburg, right by a gas station, turn north onto North Street. You will immediately cross a bridge and come to a four way intersection. Go straight.
After a short distance North Street will turn into Ashfield Road. Stay on Ashfield Road for several miles. It will cross into the town of Conway, where it becomes Main Poland Road and then, a mile or two later, it will cross into Ashfield, where it becomes Williamsburg Road. These town line crossings are marked, but you will have to watch for them. The signs are somewhat obscure.
After another mile or so, the road goes down a short but moderately steep hill and crosses Chapel Brook. There is some parking just past the small bridge on the left, but you could park along the roadside in several places nearby. There is a sign for the Chapel Brook reservation, but it isn't easy to see until you are pulling into (or driving by) the parking area.
From the parking area there is a trail that heads upstream. Don't go that way. The falls are on the other side of the road and downstream from the bridge. There is an old road (now more like a trail) that leaves the main road just before the bridge. Down that road a few yards is a sign pointing to an informal trail that leads to the falls. The trail is short. The falls are close to the road. The footing is a little tricky in places, but not bad. It shouldn't present a problem for anyone except the most unsteady. I do suggest wearing appropriate footwear. The forest floor can be muddy.
Chapel Brook Falls is not a large waterfall, but it is a very pretty one. The main falls is the one farthest downstream. When you first come to the stream you will be looking at a long sloping rock over which the stream flows in a narrow sheet. At the bottom of the sloping rock there is a large pool. Just below this first step, is another, steeper sloping rock with another pool. Below that the main falls is a nearly vertical drop of about 15 feet.
There are plenty of rocks around so it is easy to get right out near the water. In fact, you can stand just a few feet in front of the main falls without much trouble, making for a spectacular view. There is a pool below the main falls as well offering some possibilities for wading.
Today Hillary and I visited these falls for the second time. The weather was cloudy and there were very few leaves on the trees but the falls seemed very similar to last year in terms of the amount of water flowing over them. The lower falls seemed especially beautiful.
Hillary and I also took some time to follow the trail across the road from the falls up to Chapel Ledge. It was a short walk and the view was nice. Although there was no waterfalls along the trail I would still recommend it as an interesting side trip.
Today my daughter Hillary and I visited Chapel Brook Falls for the first time. It was a beautiful, sunny fall day and there were many fallen leaves around and in the stream. The sloping rocks above the main fall were covered with leaves. However, many leaves were still on the trees, painting the forest around the falls in yellows, reds, and oranges.
Despite the dry summer the water level in Chapel Brook seemed normal. It was easy enough to walk around on the rocks, but the stream still had plenty of water to make the falls look good.
There were quite a few people around---not surprising considering the weather and the weekend. Most people seemed to be hiking upstream, however. I think there might be some sort of overlook that way. The falls themselves were relatively quiet.
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