Come for the scenic view, not the waterfall. Bear Rock Falls could be a destination in its own right, but someone would have to construct a series of ladders or even a via ferrata route to allow visitors to descend from the top of the falls down to quality perspectives of the waterfall. The terrain is so steep here on both sides of the stream that scrambling down is completely out of the question. If one were to see the entire falls, they would likely find about 300 feet worth of horsetails and plunges. As it stands now, the view of the falls is limited to the top, where you can see perhaps 40 feet worth of drop. Luckily for all of us, that vantage point also includes an extremely picturesque view of the valley to the east from an open ledge.
I highly recommended that you also add in a hike to either the summit of Bear Mountain or Mt. Race as part of a trip to Bear Rock Falls. If you have two cars, you could even traverse from East Rd all the way to the Race Brook Trailhead on MA 41, visiting outstanding Race Brook Falls en route. Bear Rock Falls is interesting, but by adding any one of these bonus options to your hike will make your day hike far more rewarding.
From the small parking area, head east on a wide and obvious old fire road (called Northwest Rd) toward the Appalachian Mountain Club's Northwest Cabin. Just before you reach the cabin (which will be on your right) in 0.3 mile, take a left and continue on the unmarked but obvious trail for an additional 0.7 mile to its junction with the Appalachian Trail. Turn left and head north along the white-blazed Appalachian Trail. The trail will soon enter Sages Ravine and you will hike downstream and parallel with the stream. After 1.6 miles, you must cross Sages Ravine Brook. From this crossing, continue north for an additional 1.4 miles and you will reach Bear Rock Stream. Bear Rock Stream is a very short distance north of the spur that leads left to the Laurel Ridge backcountry campsites. Once you reach the stream, you will have to bushwhack a short distance downstream with the river on your right. You will reach a great view and the top of the falls in only about 200 feet.
It is far too dangerous to try to obtain any other view of the falls other than from the top. I am not one to head to such warnings too easily myself, but there is absolutely no way I would scramble down the nearly vertical cliff walls surrounding the falls here.
From the junction of MA 23, MA 41 and US-7 in Great Barrington, take the combined highway MA 23 west and MA 41 south into Egremont. After crossing into Egremont, take a left onto MA 41 south. After 0.1 mile on MA 41, take a right onto Mount Washington Rd, which is marked with a sign for Mt. Washington/Mt. Everett. Follow Mount Washington Rd, which is also called East St, for 11.7 miles and there will be a small parking area on the left that can fit about six cars. This parking area is 2.8 miles south of the Mt. Washington State Forest headquarters. There is a small sign at the parking area for AMC Northwest Cabin Parking. The last few miles is on a dirt road, but it is generally well-maintained.
To get to Great Barrington, take exit 1 off I-90 (the 'Mass Pike') and follow MA 41 south. You can also reach Great Barrington by taking US-7 north from Canaan, Connecticut.
It is also possible to access this parking area from the south, but I have not yet driven this road so I cannot comment on it. I can say that access to the trailhead is open year-round from the north but seasonally from the south.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
Bear Rock Falls, Massachusetts
(photo credit: Russ & Judy)
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
The 3rd edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook contains 552-pages of detailed information on hundreds of waterfalls throughout all corners of New England. This 3rd edition has been completely updated and it is the first to be printed in FULL COLOR! Click on the image below to explore some sample pages of the guidebook on Amazon.com.
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.
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
WATERFALLS ON FACEBOOK
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
And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.
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