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Sages Ravine is an undeniably beautiful stretch of the Appalachian Trail. There are small but lovely cascades and miniature falls stretched along a 0.5 mile section of the trail. Also found here is one of the state's best natural swimming holes, a reasonably deep and large hole that many thru-hikers have likely enjoyed as they either trekked north to Maine or south to Georgia.
No one particular fall is itself remarkable. The tallest (and most photogenic) is a 10-foot horsetail easily seen from the trail as you hike past it. It's pretty but only moderately unique. The next tallest falls along this trail is a cascade of perhaps 6-feet in height. As a whole, the ravine is certainly pretty enough to warrant exploration and photography.
We highly recommend combining a trip to Sages Ravine with an ascent of Bear Mountain in Connecticut, where open views are to be found. To reach Bear Mountain, you will need to hike about 0.6 mile south on the Appalachian Trail from the junction of the Appalachian Trail and Northwest Road either before or after visiting the falls along Sages Ravine.
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. There are small falls and cascades from this point all the way to where the trail crosses Sages Ravine Brook about 1.6 miles from the parking area.
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 and follow MA 41 south.
It is also possible to access this parking area from the south, but we have not yet driven this road so we cannot comment on it. We can say that access to the trailhead is open year-round from the north but seasonally from the south.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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Sages Ravine-Upper Falls, Massachusetts
Sages Ravine-Upper Falls, 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
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- 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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