On the border of N.Y.’s Hudson Valley and the Massachusetts Berkshires, the Bash Bish Falls area offers hiking, camping, biking, and skiing.
At Bash Bish Falls, two streams of water plummet more than 60 feet from atop a cliff, joining together in a deep, dark pool surrounded by car-sized boulders and the deciduous trees of the northeastern forest. The myth is one you’ve heard before: An Indian maiden who, unable to be with her lover in life, flung herself off the falls to be with him in death.
Bash Bish Falls is the longest waterfall in Massachusetts, and one of the most beautiful Northeast falls. Located on the Hudson Valley and the Berkshire Hills border, the falls and the immediately surrounding area offer a cornucopia of family-adventure travel opportunities just over a two-hour drive from New York City.
Directions to and Description of Bash Bish Falls
Bash Bish Falls is a good destination for a day trip. From New York, take the Taconic Parkway to the Hillsdale exit. Take route 23 8 miles east to Hillsdale, N.Y., then 22 3 miles south to route 344. At Copake, Falls signs point to the falls, located just outside the village.
The falls are reachable by a gentle 1/2-mile uphill hike parallelling Bash Bish Creek from the lower parking lot or by a much steeper downhill hike from the upper parking lot. Bring a picnic, water, and bug spray.
Swimming is not permitted at the falls (nor should it go without saying that jumping off the 60-foot falls into the pool below!). It is possible to cool off in the creek below the falls.
In winter, depending on snow depth, you can hike, cross-country ski, or snowshoe the trail to Bash Bish from the lower parking lot, but be careful of the steep drops toward the creek in some sections of the course. There have been numerous accidents in winter at Bash Bish, although most of them have occurred on the upper parking lot trail’s steeper sections. If you stay on the lower track, you should be all right.
Hiking and Biking Around Bash Bish Falls
Right at the lower parking lot, the South Taconic Trail heads into the woods. The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference manages this hiking trail. It climbs into the Taconic Range, which divides New York from New England. From the ridge, you can see from the Catskills to the Berkshires. Ambitious hikers can hike all the way north to the Catamount Ski Area, where the Catamount Trees Adventure Course offers one of the region’s most popular summer family activities, an aerial obstacle course complete with ziplines. Catamount also offers summer mountain biking.
Cyclists can rent bikes at Bash Bish Bicycles and set out on the bike path. The bike path is pretty flat; if you opt for road biking instead and try to go up into the hills above the falls, expect some long and steep climbs.
Car Camping, Cabin Camping, and Hotels in the Bash Bish Area
New York’s Taconic State Park is just a few hundred yards downstream from the lower Bash Bish Falls parking lot. It offers rental cabins located right along the creek. There’s also a campground, but it is often fully booked on summer weekends and can crowd. Nonetheless, it’s got an excellent swimming quarry hole and lots of space and makes a good base camp for a weekend in the area.
Hotels and B&Bs find throughout the region. The closest towns are
- Millerton, N.Y.,
- Lakeville, Connecticut,
- South Egremont, Massachusetts,
- Hillsdale, New York, and
- (a little farther) Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
Prices tend to be higher on the New England side of the border and lower on the New York side. The Sylvanus on Route 22 in Hillsdale, N.Y. It is one of the closest lodgings; it’s an independently owned roadside motel with reasonably priced rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. The nearest restaurants are in Hillsdale and South Egremont; there’s also a supermarket in Hillsdale if you need to pick up camping supplies.
Whether you’ve only got a chance for a fleet day trip from New York or can spare an entire weekend, whether you are a tourist or second homeowner with plenty of time to explore the area, be sure to put Bash Bish on the agenda. The falls are least crowded on weekdays when you can sometimes be lucky enough to have them to yourself. But even on a crowded summer Saturday, you can find plenty of quiet spots along the creek. And, with no parking or admission fees, there’s no denying that this is one of the best deals in the area.