RACE BROOK FALLS


Sheffield, Massachusetts



RATING: 4.5 / 5.0 stars (Excellent) Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Massachusetts
COUNTY: Berkshire County
TOWN: Sheffield
PARK: Mt. Everett State Reservation
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Horsetails and cascades
HEIGHT: Approximately 300-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Race Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.7 mile one-way to lowermost falls; 1.1 miles one-way to uppermost falls
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: To the lowest falls, moderate; to the upper falls, moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: 20 minutes one-way to lower falls; 60 minutes one-way to visit all five falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 450 feet, down 30 feet to lower falls; up 900 feet, down 50 feet to upper falls
WHEN TO VISIT: May to November
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: Page 43, J-30 (the falls are actually marked on the MA atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: None noted
GPS COORDINATES: To be determined
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

Race Brook Falls offers five distinct and very scenic sets of waterfalls. If that is not enough to entice you into visiting, you can continue past the falls up to the nearby summits of Mt. Everett or Mt. Race as an added bonus.

The lowermost falls drops nearly 100 feet and is surrounded by dozens of hemlock trees, creating a nice frame. The second falls, a pretty horsetail, is more exposed to the sun, and presents improved photographic opportunities. This is our favorite of the five waterfalls here. This one fans graceful down a steep ledge before splashing in a shallow pool below. Braving the slippery process of wading across the brook, it is possible to wade right up and lean against the rugged, nearly vertical wall that the water tumbles down.

Most waterfall types, including horsetails, plunges, cascades, slides, and fans, can be found by continuing up the steep trail past the second falls. The third and forth falls consist of plunges, horsetails and cascades. You will probably want to avoid the third falls in the early spring; constant mud is likely to be a common nuisance between the second and forth falls for hikers during this season. The fifth and final falls has very low water flow as it is found high on the mountainside. Viewing the upper fifth falls requires a short bushwhack, which almost ensures you privacy here.

TRAIL INFORMATION

Trail information for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

DIRECTIONS

Directions for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

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

Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook can always be found here: book updates

SPECIAL NOTES

The Race Brook Trail continues above the falls to a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail, about 2.1 miles from the parking area. By linking the Race Brook Trail with the Appalachian Trail, you can complement the waterfalls of Race Brook with the peaks of Mt. Race or Mt. Everett, both of which offer equally compelling views of the surrounding countryside. If you are looking for a little privacy, Mt. Race is the mountain to head to, as there is an auto road to the top of Mt. Everett.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Race Brook Falls, Massachusetts

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.
  • 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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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!