CASCADES ON DUNBAR BROOK


Monroe, Massachusetts



RATING: 2.5 / 5.0 stars (Good) Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Massachusetts
COUNTY: Franklin
TOWN: Monroe
PARK: Monroe State Forest
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Cascades
HEIGHT: 15-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Dunbar Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 1.1 miles one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate
HIKING TIME: 40 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 275 feet, down 50 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November
SWIMMING: Great
DELORME ATLAS: Page 21, C-27 (the falls are not marked on the MA atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 42°42.26, -72°57.17
GPS-WATERFALL: 42°42.54, -72°58.28
COMPASS: 50 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

Coming soon...

TRAIL INFORMATION

Ignore the trail that passes along a wooden fence and instead climb uphill on a dirt road for 100 feet and turn right onto a blue-blazed trail that immediately enters the woods. You'll be heading upstream with the brook on your right. After hiking for 0.2 miles, you will cross into the state forest, where the blazes turn red. After hiking for 0.4 miles, lok for a 3-4 foot cascade off in the distance that dumps into a pretty pool. To reach it, you'd have to bushwhack 150 feet down to the brook. Continue hiking along the main trail and you'll reach a junction at mile 0.7 where the blue-blazed Raycroft Trail can be seen on your left. Continue along the red-blazed trail next to the brook. Only 300 feet beyond the junction, you must cross the brook, which is often lower-calf deep or less. In 2017, there was a downed tree you could scooch or walk across (do this at your own risk). After crossing the brook, turn left and continue hiking upstream. After hiking for 1.0 mile, cross over a different brook (Haley Brook) on a footbridge and you will find an overnight shelter available to backpackers. There is also a pit toilet currently here.

To reach the falls from the shelter, follow a rough path west that is found between the pit toilet and the backside of the shelter. In 100 feet, you'll see some ruins of a foundation on your right. From the ruins, follow the rough path downhill towards Dunbar Brook. Once you get closer to the brook, the trail will turn right and climb upstream. Head about 400 feet upstream and the lowermost cascades will become visible on your left, dumping into an emerald green pool. The trail ends here and bushwhacking further upstream is a difficult endeavor.

DIRECTIONS

If you are traveling on MA 2 east from North Adams, turn left onto Whitcomb Hill Road 5.7 miles east of the famous hairpin turn on MA 2. Follow Whitcomb Hill Road generally east for 2.5 miles and take a left onto River Road. Drive 4.8 miles north on River Road and take a left into a large parking area marked as the Dunbar Brook Trailhead.

If you are traveling on MA 2 west from Shelburne Falls, continue traveling on MA 2 west for 1.6 miles past the junction of MA 2 and MA 8a south in Charlemont and take a right onto Zoar Rd at a sign pointing towards "Rowe/Monroe". Follow Zoar Rd north for 2.4 miles and take a left onto River Rd. Travel on River Rd. for 8.6 miles and take a left into a large parking area marked as the Dunbar Brook Trailhead.

The parking area has a sign that says the area is open from 6:00am-9:30pm daily, but I'm willing to bet you could use this parking area overnight if you were staying at the lean-to shelter within Monroe State Forest.

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 On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
zoomed-in view of the falls

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
overnight shelter along Dunbar Brook

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
trailhead sign

Cascades On Dunbar Brook, Massachusetts
overnight shelter along Dunbar Brook

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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  • 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!