SHAKER BROOK FALLS


Hancock, Massachusetts



RATING: 1.5 / 5.0 stars (Fair) Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Massachusetts
COUNTY: Berkshire
TOWN: Hancock
PARK: Pittsfield State Forest & Hancock Shaker Village
PRIVATE PROPERTY: Yes (public visitors are welcome though)
TYPE: Cascades below a partially-breached dam
HEIGHT: 6-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Shaker Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.5 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy
HIKING TIME: 15 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: +65 feet, -10 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: April to November
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2004: Page 32, D-5 (the falls are not marked on the MA atlas)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2017)
LENS TO BRING: Standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Cascades on Shaker Brook
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 42.431500, -73.340000
GPS-WATERFALL: 42.438333, -73.340667
COMPASS: 20° excluding declination (the falls face southeast)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within of the guidebook
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THE FALLS

If you told someone you went to the Hancock Shaker Village but skipped the historical buildings and instead visited a waterfall across the street from it, they might think you are crazy. The village is, after all, one of the most impressive historical attractions in all of New England. A quick check of the attraction on Tripadvisor reveals that visitors are almost always enthralled by their experience there.

The trail to the falls is literally across the street from the village, and some folks do take the easy walk to them. It's an easy 15 minute walk to the falls. The falls were at one time natural, but then a dam was added by members of the Shaker community. These days, a small cascade passes through a gap in the dam, which is now partially breached. Some tiny cascades are also visible downstream. Shaker Brook was very pristine-looking on my visit; I would rank it high in terms of being one of the prettiest in the Berkshires.

Hancock Shaker Village is absolutely worthy of your time. Budget 3-4 hours for the village alone, and perhaps an extra hour if you'd also like to take the short walk to the cascades.

TRAIL INFORMATION

Before you start your hike, cross US-20, hop over a guardrail, and walk a few hundred yards to the ticket shop of the Hancock Shaker Village. Check in with one of the ticket staff to inform them that you will be doing some hiking on their trails along Shaker Brook. They will ask for your name as well as an emergency contact number. They will also likely give you a hiker sticker to wear. They may also offer a map and guide to the trails (ask for one if they don't).

After you have checked-in with the Hancock Shaker Village, return back to your vehicle. From the parking area, walk around a metal gate and head north along a woods trail that parallels an open field on the right. After 0.1 mile, you'll pass along the western edge of a small reservoir on your right. After 0.2 mile, you'll reach a small open area and the remains of a round steam boiler. Bear left after the steam boiler, walk 75 feet, and then take a right back onto the main trail, which continues to look more like an old road than a hiking trail. The stream will come into view on your right about 0.3 mile from your vehicle. The trail passes directly past the small falls and beached dam after 0.45 mile.

DIRECTIONS

From the junction of US-7 and US-20 in Pittsfield, take US-20 west for 4.5 miles and park in a paved pull-off on the right side of the road 0.2 mile before the main entrance of the Hancock Shaker Village, which is on the left. This parking area is 0.3 mile west of the junction of US-20 and MA 41.

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

The trail to the falls continues and connects to many more miles of trails in the area. There are also some historical sites that can be visited. Good information about these trails can be found here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts

Shaker Brook Falls, Massachusetts
Shaker 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. 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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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

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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!