HOUSATONIC RIVER GORGE & CASCADES


Kent, Connecticut



RATING: 1.5 / 5.0 stars (Fair) Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Connecticut
COUNTY: Litchfield
TOWN: Kent
PARK: Housatonic River Project Recreation Area & Appalachian National Scenic Trail
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Cascades and rapids
HEIGHT: Tallest drop is 8 feet
WATER SOURCE: Housatonic River
WATERSHED SIZE: Very large
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.2 mile one-way to largest falls; 0.6 mile one-way to additional cascades; 0.8 mile one-way to hiker's bridge over the Ten Mile River
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate past all cascades and to the hiker's bridge over the Ten Mile River
HIKING TIME: 10 minutes one-way to largest falls; 25 minutes one-way to hiker's bridge over the Ten Mile River
ALTITUDE GAIN: Down 40 feet to largest falls; down 150 feet, up 100 feet to hiker's bridge over the Ten Mile River
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: Page 40, K-3 (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 (16-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 41°40.53, -73°30.50
GPS-WATERFALL: Largest falls: 41°40.48, -73°30.60
Hiker's bridge: 41°39.58, -73°30.26
COMPASS: 350 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

This area has a lot to offer. There are some cascades and rapids to see, all found along a lovely section of the Appalachian Trail. Near the trailhead is Bulls Bridge, one of Connecticut's finest covered bridges, as well as the cascades that lie upsream of it, known as Bulls Bridge Cascades.

The most substantial waterfall here is a turbulent 8-foot cascade found near where you start hiking south along the Appalachian Trail. Several different vantage points are offered of those falls. Further downstream are numerous cascades and rapids spanning the entire width of the mighty Housatonic River, one of Connecticut's most substantial and important water courses.

Other highlights along the hike include a beautiful footbridge spanning the Ten Mile River, which dumps into the Housatonic River soon after passing under the bridge. If you hike on the Appalachian Trail for 0.2 mile south of the bridge, you can take a spur trail to visit one of its well-constructed overnight shelters. Bring a lunch and enjoy the peacefulness of the area.

TRAIL INFORMATION

From the trailhead, walk west along Bulls Bridge Road, passing through the covered bridge and continuing along the edge of the road for 500 more feet. Turn left onto a wide, blue-blazed trail that heads downstream with the Housatonic River on your left. After 300 feet, you'll come to the largest falls of the trip. There are several steep and rough paths that lead to better views if you aren't satisfied by the views on the main trail. If you continue downstream on the main trail for 200 feet you see more cascades. At this point you are about 0.2 mile from the trailhead.

If you are only here to see waterfalls, you may want to just turn around here. If you'd like to continue on to complete a very nice day hike, continue further downstream. About 0.3 mile from the trailhead, you'll connect with the Appalachian Trail. Stay straight and head south on the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. After 0.2 mile on the Appalachian Trail, bear left at a fork to stay on the Appalachian Trail. About 0.6 mile from the trailhead, you'll see a series of cascades that drop about 10-12 feet over the course of about 150 feet of river. There is a house across the river which can help orient you to the correct spot.

If you hike 0.25 mile further downstream beyond the cascades found at mile 0.6, you'll reach an interesting hiker's bridge that spans the Ten Mile River. On the other side of the bridge are some backpacking tentsites. There are also some rapids on the Housatonic River here, but they are very small. From the hiker's bridge, you can also continue right and hike 0.2 mile further south on the Appalachian Trail, where a spur trail will lead left to one of the trails' overnight lean-to shelters (free; first-come, first-served). There are also some pit toilets here, both near the tentsites and the lean-to.

Take note there is also a dam with cascades below it across the street from where the trail begins off Bulls Bridge Road. However, you aren't supposed to hike in that area and there are NO TRESPASSING signs. This dam and falls are about 200 feet from the road.

DIRECTIONS

From the junction of US-7 and CT 341 in Kent, take US-7 south for 3.8 miles and turn right onto Bulls Bridge Road. Bulls Bridge Road is also 2.6 miles north of the junction of US-7 and CT 55 in Gaylordsville. Follow Bulls Bridge Road west for 100 feet and pull into the parking lot on the left before crossing over a water channel and passing through the Bulls Bridge covered bridge.

To get to Kent, take US-7 north from Danbury or US-7 south from Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Take note that this is the trailhead for both the Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades and also the Bulls Bridge Cascades. It is also a trailhead that serves the Appalachian Trail, although no overnight parking is allowed here.

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

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
the main cascades of Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
small rapids along the Housatonic River

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
hiker's bridge at mile 0.8

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
some rapids/small cascades on the Housatonic River seen along the hike

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
some rapids/small cascades on the Housatonic River seen along the hike

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
The Ten Mile Shelter on the Appalachian Trail (about 1.0 mile from the trailhead)

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
a pit toilet at the Ten Mile Tentsite area

Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut
Housatonic River Gorge & Cascades, Connecticut

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

Our 376-page New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition guidebook contains detailed information on over 400 waterfalls throughout New England. Click on the image below to read reviews and/or purchase the guidebook on Amazon.com.



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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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Join the growing communities of waterfall aficionados on Facebook! You can share your photographs, follow the adventures of other waterfall hunters, and find new places to explore:

  • Request to join the "New England Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "New Hampshire Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
  • Request to join the "Waterfalls of the United States" 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!