The majority of visitors to Daniel's Brook Chasm seem to arrive by ATV, making this waterfall one of the very few accessible by such mode of transportation in New England. Pittsfield State Forest is actually one of the best spots in the state for this type of activity with a comprehensive network of wide and relatively smooth trails. Hikers and mountain bikers are welcome on the trails and at the waterfall as well.
The falls start off as a 12-foot long narrow slide dropping three vertical feet. After the slide, the brook passes through the chasm, dropping a total of 20-feet consisting of two major horsetails and some intermediate cascades. The walls of the chasm are so narrow the falls rumble loudly. It is difficult to obtain a quality photograph due to the characteristics of the chasm. The water is clear, but the stream is somewhat seasonal, so I am unsure how attractive the falls would be in the dog-days of summer.
While you are in the general area, don't miss a quick trip to Balanced Rock State Park. This is one of Massachusetts' most impressive balanced rocks (some would say its the most impressive). There's a ton of spray-paint all over it, but it's fascinating to ponder how this rock still stands on its own.
You can find the entrance to this park on nearby Balance Rock Rd (you'll need to drive to a separate trailhead).
The hike to Daniel's Chasm isn't all that enjoyable because you will be walking along trails that have been cut up by ORVs. The overall footbed isn't very smooth and mud is common. Starting on May 1st of each year, you also need to watch out for speeding ORV-ers as this trail network is much more commonly used by trail machines than by hikers.
From the parking area, take the wide dirt road to the left of the parking area. The river is out of sight from the start of the trail. Start hiking the dirt road as it gradually increases in elevation. After hiking for 0.2 mile, you will reach a fork. Take the right fork, descend briefly, and then climb moderately steep terrain for 0.3 mile further upstream to the chasm. Ignore any minor trail junctions (including a T-junction at 0.4 mile from the car; stay straight here) and you will reach the chasm about 0.5 mile from the parking area. The chasm is clearly visible from the trail. Throughout this hike, you will be hiking mostly parallel to the brook, but it will be up to 150 feet away from you and often out of sight.
You cannot see the main falls and the most substantial part of the chasm from the trail. You must bushwhack 50 feet downstream on moderate terrain to view this. Unfortunately, there are often several downed trees lying across the chasm that reduce the overall appeal of this place. You should also walk over to the top of the falls, where you will find a pretty slide. This is perhaps the best opportunity for photography here.
From the junction of US-7 and MA 9 in downtown Pittsfield, take US-7 north for 2.5 miles and take a left onto Hancock Rd. Follow Hancock Rd for 1.9 miles and take a right onto Churchill St. Follow Churchill St. for 1.0 mile and take a left onto Potter Mountain Rd (no street sign in 2017). Follow Potter Mountain Rd for 0.4 mile and pull into a large gravel parking area on the left for Pittsfield State Forest. The parking area is typically marked as "ATV Parking" but hikers are also welcome to park here.
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
Daniel's Brook Chasm, Massachusetts
Daniel's Brook Chasm, Massachusetts
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
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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