CASCADES ALONG THE WESTLEDGE TRAIL


Simsbury, Connecticut



RATING: 2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good) Cascades Along The Westledge Trail, Connecticut (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Connecticut
COUNTY: Hartford
TOWN: Simsbury
PARK: McLean Game Refuge
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Plunge
HEIGHT: 8 feet
WATER SOURCE: Unnamed
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.25 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate
HIKING TIME: 10 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: +100 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November
SWIMMING: Good
DELORME ATLAS: Page 52, I-6 (the falls are not marked on the CT atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or Standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 41°55.08, 72°51.13
GPS-WATERFALL: 41°55.08, 72°51.40
COMPASS: 65 degrees (when N on the compass is pointed towards the falls)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

One of the areas within the highest concentration of waterfalls in Connecticut is in and around the McLean Game Refuge. The Cascades along the Westledge Trail are just one of several waterfalls either within the park or close to its borders. The main falls here are 8-feet tall, and the falls dumps over an overhanging ledge into a small but lovely pool. The pool appears to be 4-5 feet deep, has some of the clearest waterfall I've seen in any Connecticut river, and would likely be a hit with children on hot summer days. The trail does not directly pass by the falls, so I wonder how many folks know or bother to swim here, if any.

There are a few smaller falls and cascades downstream, but you have to bushwhack to them.

TRAIL INFORMATION

Start your hike by walking 400 feet further up Firetown Road, following pink-and-white blazes, and turn left onto a private driveway. Walk 100 feet down the driveway and take a right onto the Westledge Trail. After hiking in the woods for 0.1 mile, you'll reach a T-junction where the Westledge Trail goes straight and the Eddy Trail goes right. Go 100 feet straight ahead on the pink-blazed Westledge Trail, then turn left and follow a rough path 30 feet to the main 8-foot falls. It is tough to see the main falls from the Westledge Trail itself, but you should be able to hear them them through the woods.

There are also some additional smaller falls if you bushwhack a short distance downstream.

DIRECTIONS

From the junction of CT 167, US-202, and CT 10 in Simsbury, take CT 167 (West Street) south (although you'll really be heading west) for 0.1 mile and turn right onto Firetown Road. Follow Firetown Road for 4.6 miles and pull into the small McLean Game Refuge parking area for the Eddy Loop Trail on the right, about 200 feet after crossing over Bissell Brook. This is the trailhead for the falls, as well as nearby Northgate Falls. To get to Simsbury, take US-44 west from Hartford to US-202 east.

UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION

NONE NOTED.

If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at gparsons66@hotmail.com or leave a Facebook comment at the bottom of this page. Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the guidebook can always be found here: book updates

OPTIONAL HIKES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Cascades Along The Westledge Trail, Connecticut
the main falls of Cascades Along The Westledge Trail, Connecticut

Cascades Along The Westledge Trail, Connecticut
the main falls of Cascades Along The Westledge Trail, Connecticut

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

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TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES

Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England. Here is a list of all known deaths at waterfalls and swimming holes in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.

HELPFUL LINKS

Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link

OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS

In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link
       

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  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Newenglandwaterfalls.com and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!