Location : Royalston, MA Stream : Lawrence Brook Height : 200 feet overall. Finding : Easy with a good road atlas. Access : Easy/Moderate. Short hike (0.5 miles?) with climbing. Swimming : No Basking : Some nice spots. Legal : Owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Public access. Overview : Impressive series of cascades.
(During this visit Hillary and I missed most of the falls because we didn't hike down the trail far enough to see them. Check out my visit of April 27, 1997 below for more information)
This property is owned by the Trustees of Reservations. I found it in their catalog of properties. Doane's Falls is located alongAthol Road in Royalston. Only a short distance north of the border of Athol the road crosses over Lawrence Brook. At that point Doane Hill Road comes in from the west. There is a small parking area between the stream and the road junction, and an obvious enough sign marking the spot.
Hillary and I visited these falls together. We followed a trail that skirted the edge of a ravine through which the stream flowed. A few yards down the trail, we were able to scramble down the side of the ravine and get close to the water. From there we had a good view of the falls.
The stream flowed over two or three steps each between five and ten feet in height. There wasn't a huge amount of water in the stream today, so it snaked back and forth across the rocky channel as it flowed down toward Tully Lake. There was a large pool at the bottom of the falls, but the Trustees of Reservations have marked the area with many "No Swimming" signs. They even posted a list of people who have been injured or died there to help make their point.
There were quite a few people visiting this spot when Hillary and I were there today. I'm not exactly sure what made it so popular. Although people were stopping by the falls, many of them continued hiking down the trail toward the lake. It almost makes me wonder if there are more falls downstream. Hillary and I didn't investigate that.
The falls are nice, but not special (at least... the ones we looked at).
A reader of this web site who grew up in the area of Doane's Falls informed me via email that, in fact, there were many more waterfalls to see below the first one that Hillary and I had seen last year. Today I revisted Doane's Falls to investigate.
The water was higher today than it had been last October. The falls just below the road were considerably more impressive than they had been during my last visit. After enjoying the upper falls a little, I followed the yellow blazed trail downhill. In a few yards I came to a place where the stream sliced through a narrow, steep walled chasm. There were several well worn overlooks where I could stand and look down into the chasm comfortably.
Just below the chasm, the stream poured over a large cascade into a large pool. From a rock outcropping I could look down into a wide bowl of rock and water to admire the impressive falls. I scrambled down toward the edge of the water for a picture from below, but I couldn't get to the ideal spot due to slippery rocks. At a time of lower water, I suspect this would be a very photogenic falls. I did snap a picture of the falls while huddled against the rock outcropping. I could feel the spray of the water on my face.
The stream appeared to level out, but I followed the trail farther anyway. I had already underestimated this waterfall once, and I was not about to do it again! In a few yards, the stream began to fall some more. This time it flowed through a narrow curving channel of rock that opened out into a small pool. I was able to easily climb onto the rocks right above the stream and get a good look at the rushing water. It was very dramatic.
The pool emptied almost immediately by pouring over a 15 foot unobstructed drop into a large pool at the bottom of the falls (see photo at the top of this page). This final fall was, perhaps, the most impressive of them all for it was both graceful and powerful at the same time.
This is an excellent waterfall!
A few weeks ago, a regular reader of this page (Mike) sent me a couple of his pictures of Doanes Falls. They are quite nice and show the falls in a different mood than the photos I have taken. I especially like the one below, but he sent me another one as well.
Return to the list of waterfalls.