Shelburne Falls

5 Amazing Hiking Trails in Franklin County, MA

I always appreciate living in Franklin County because of its natural beauty. There are so many places where you can immerse yourself in nature and take in the magnificent views around the valley. Plus, with so many hiking trails around, you can get all the exercise you need without having to go inside. Take a look at some of my favorite places in Franklin County to hike and explore:

high ledges shelburne massHigh Ledges, Shelburne

High Ledges is a wildlife sanctuary in Shelburne. A series of looping trails allow you to make your hike as short or as long as you’d like. Stop by the vernal pool in the spring time and watch the salamanders grow. Originally the site of Dutch and Mary Barnhardt’s home, the fireplace structure still remains, right next to the viewing point of the village of Shelburne Falls. If you continue on the long trail, you can see the wolf dens, where supposedly the last wolf in the area was exterminated. Visit the Mass Audubon website for more information on High Ledges.

Rocky Mountain Poets Seat Tower, Greenfield 

If you find yourself in downtown Greenfield with just a few hours to spare, Rocky Mountain is the perfect quick hike. This is a 2.4-mile loop, great for all abilities, and moderately trafficked. At the top, you can climb the Poets Seat Tower, a reconstructed stone tower which was built in 1912. From the tower, you can look out over the Town of Greenfield, the Connecticut River Valley, and Montague. Find out more at Greenfield Recreation Department’s website.

Chapel Brook, Ashfield

 Chapel Ledges Brook Ashfield MassChapel Brook in Ashfield offers hiking, swimming, and rock climbing all in one place. Its rugged beauty and tranquility makes it a perfect place to escape for an afternoon or a day. Hike to the top of Pony Mountain and gaze at the top of the hills in Ashfield. There is a direct, steep hike, or another more moderate trail that winds around the side of the mountain. Both trails end at the top of Chapel Ledges, a tall rock face which draws rock climbers from around the area. On hot days you can cool off in the brook, which has a series of small waterfalls with beautiful pools below, perfect for taking a dip. Visit The Trustees website for more information.

Bears Den, New Salem

Bears Den is another spectacular place in Franklin County that offers a great reward with little work. It is located where the middle branch of the Swift River drops off into a woodland pool in a gorge on its way to the Quabbin Reservoir. Hike along the short, quarter-mile trail and then decide - left or right. Go left and be enchanted by the beautiful waterfall or go right and hike along the stream, past large boulders, ending at the site of an Old Mill. Get directions to Bears Den at the Trustees website.

Gunn Brook Falls, Sunderland

Another great waterfall that we are lucky to have close by is Gunn Brook Falls in Sunderland. The trail to get there is only 0.2 miles, which makes it great for families with small children. However, if you’re looking for more hiking, you can continue on the trail up Mt. Toby. At the top of Mt. Toby, you can climb the tower if your fear of heights allows, and get an awesome 360 degree view of the area. Learn more about Gunn Brook Falls here.

 

 

 

Compete, Volunteer, or Cheer at the Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon

This is an amazing time of year where Winter and Summer overlap in our area. You can be skiing in the mountains in the morning and biking on the roads or kayaking the rivers in the afternoon. This makes it the perfect time of year to hold a pentathlon, combining five outdoor activities into one event. The 8th Annual Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon is this Saturday, April 6, starting and finishing at Berkshire East Mountain Resort.

The race has five legs- a 4 mile trail run, 16 mile road bike, 2 mile river paddle, 2 mile obstacle course run, and finally a climb up Berkshire East to a ski/snowboard down to the finish line. Participate in the pentathlon on your own as a “Braveheart” or as part of a team of two or five people. There is a special category for family teams, as well! The pentathlon is a fun way to challenge yourself in a variety of sports in the same race. After the race, all participants are welcome to a free meal at Berkshire East and a free beer from Berkshire Brewing Company!

You can also be part of the fun as a volunteer! The Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon is still seeking volunteers to help time and monitor the course. Volunteers are crucial to making this event happen and receive a free T-shirt and meal to say thanks for their help. Sign up for a volunteer role here.

Of course, supporters are always needed to boost up the participants. Come out and cheer on the participants as they challenge themselves. There are several great viewing areas for different legs of the course. Check out the best places to spectate here. Participants will meet at 10:15 am and the race starts at 11:00 am.

For more information and to register for the Pentathlon, click here.

Good luck to all the racers!



 

Syrup: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival in Shelburne Falls

For the 10th year in a row, Shelburne Falls local theatre company, Piti, will hold their sweet performing arts festival, Syrup! This year, the festival will take place at the Shelburne Buckland Community Center in Shelburne Falls, with the benefit of having two stages for their performances. The�two-part event is scheduled for Saturday, March 9th and 23rd. This years Syrup festival will feature world class performances for all ages, a syrup tasting, free Real Pickles, and more.

Help Piti kick off the festival at 11 am on Saturday, March 9th, with a pancake brunch. Admission is free, just pay for your organic buckwheat pancakes and sample different local syrups. At noon, enjoy selections of Greatest Bits Volume 1 played by Carrie Ferguson. Then at 2:30 pm, Piti Theatres Olde Coleraine will return after a 3-year hiatus, a musical about Colrain at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. At 3:30 pm, experience the clown performance of award-winning Alex the Jester. After his performance, Alex will lead a workshop called Primal Talk: Non-Verbal Stuff Made Fun for teens and adults about communication tools. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for students/seniors, and $5 for kids for the performances and $15 for the workshop.

Two weeks later come back for Day 2 of Syrup on March 23rd, an afternoon of works in progress showings and syrup tasting at The Barn at 31 Water Street in Shelburne Falls. This event is only for those aged 15+ and admission is free. The works to be shown include Narieka Maslas clown/dance piece and Jonathan Mirins Canary in the Goldmine a staged reading of the story of how him and his wife and production partner developed microwave sickness/electrical sensitivity.

Buy your tickets in advance and get more information at http://ptco.org/festivals/syrup/. Email info@ptco.org to register for the workshop. Have a sweet time at Syrup!

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Staying Fit: Workout Centers in Franklin County

Was your new year’s resolution to get in shape? The middle of winter can be a tough time to get into a workout routine. The good news is Franklin County has many exercise facilities with a variety of offerings to tailor to your style. So you can stick to your New Years resolution this year!

YMCA in Greenfield

Whether you’re looking for a single or family membership, the YMCA can suit you. They offer different levels of membership and even daily passes if you’re not looking for a commitment. The Y is great for people who are looking to exercise in a variety of ways. They have a full workout room with machines and weights, a pool, a gym, plus they offer classes ranging from spin to aqua aerobics. There are plenty of programs for kids, as well, such as sports teams like gymnastics, and school-aged child care. 

Common Ground Fitness Center

Common Ground Fitness Center is perfect for adults who could use some support getting into and maintaining a healthy workout routine. While you can drop in and use the equipment at your own desire, they promote attendance of their group workout classes and use of personal trainers to help you keep coming. Common Ground offers high intensity workout classes such as TRX, PIYO, and boxing, as well as low-intensity ones like elasticize and yoga. Plus, their memberships are very affordable with tiered levels ranging from $30 to $70 a month.

Riverside Fitness Studio

Sometimes, the best way to take control of your workout routine is by having a personal trainer, someone to hold you accountable for showing up. For those who live in West Franklin County, there is a great personal fitness studio right in Shelburne Falls - Riverside Fitness Studio. Personal Trainer Tim, has been in the fitness industry for over 6 years and has been holding his own steady workout routine for over 10. He offers one-on-one or one-on-two training sessions that give results. 

I hope this list is helpful in your start towards physical health and wellness this new year! Happy training!

 

Business Highlight: Spruced Up

Naturally Cleaning, Organizing, and Decluttering Your Spaces!

Where are you located? 
We are based out of Shelburne Falls, MA.

When did you open? 
We started on November 1, 2018.

What inspired you to start this business? 
We both have felt the impact of clearing physical space and becoming intentional in how we are organizing our homes. It has had a positive effect on our well-being and inspired us to start our business with the desire to bring this quality and effect to other’s homes and spaces. We believe that a clean and tidy home has the power to bring physical wellness, clarity of mind and productivity to one’s life.

What is your mission? 
To support health and wellness in others through natural cleaning, decluttering and organizing spaces.

What goods or services do you offer?
We offer: general cleaning; deep cleaning; decluttering and purging of items; organizing spaces; preparing for guests; arranging spaces for optimal flow, function and aesthetic.

What is your favorite service that you offer? Why? 
Our favorite service that we offer is decluttering and purging followed by organizing. We love this because it opens space up and allows for improvement of physical and mental health, free-time, relationships, productivity, and a healthier home. Removing extra “stuff” from one’s space allows for there to be a higher likelihood that the space will stay tidy. General and routine cleaning feels great to come home to, and if one invests in going further with decluttering and organizing, it lays the foundation for maintaining a happier and healthier home.

Do you have any special events or promotions coming up? 
We do not at the moment, but Stay Tuned in the future!

Is there anything else you would like to share with readers about your business? 
We have a wide skill set. If there’s something you need but is not listed, let us know! We can probably help you out!

Hours of operation:
We operate Monday through Friday during day-time hours, and sometimes on the weekends.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/spruceduphilltowns/

Check out one of their recent jobs- Before and After!

  

 

Attention Air Bnb Hosts: New Short Term Rental Laws in Massachusetts

If you are currently listing part or all of your home on Air Bnb or are considering renting out a space in your home for short term periods, you’ll want to pay close attention to the new short term rental laws in Massachusetts. These new laws will require all short term rentals to be registered in a database with the state. The law also imposes a 5.7% hotel room tax to all short term rentals. Plus, towns and cities can choose to add an additional tax of up to 6% (6.5% in Boston) and a 3% community impact fee. Concerning the matter of insurance, people renting out a room will need to have at least $1 million in liability insurance.

When do these laws go into effect?
The state-level laws are already in effect, but towns and cities will have the option to create their own restrictions around short-term rentals.

How is a short-term rental defined in this law?
These new short term rental laws apply to all rentals for a period of 31 days or less, but does not apply to properties rented less than 14 days out of the year. Ordinary tenancies, such as an annual lease or tenancy-at-will, are not affected by this bill.

How does this law apply to rentals already booked for 2019?
Any 2019 rental booked before December 31, 2018 is exempted from the short term rental law.

Be sure to check with your city or town to see if they will implement any further restrictions on short term rentals.

Click here for more information. 
 

Moonlight Magic Kicks of the Holiday Season in Style in Shelburne Falls

This Friday, many shoppers will head to corporate stores across the country for Black Friday shopping. However, here in Franklin County, we like to do things differently by supporting our local businesses and kicking off the holiday season in style with Moonlight Magic.

This annual event known across the region will take place in the beautiful village of Shelburne Falls. The Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association has worked together with local businesses to put on this magnificent event. The village has already been beautifully decorated with holiday lights and garlands spiraling up the lamp posts along with pole tags with sponsors’ names showing their support. On the eve of Moonlight Magic, luminaria will line the streets directing event goers to various points of interest throughout the village.

Moonlight Magic is also one of the few times of the year where Bridge Street and Deerfield Ave will be shut down to traffic, allowing pedestrians to wander the streets, browsing vendor tents and businesses, which will stay open later for the event. Soon after sunset, the Parade of Lights will make its way down Conway Street, over the Iron Bridge and down Bridge Street. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be part of the parade, greeting shoppers and then ending at the Mason’s Lodge, for visits and photos. Throughout the event, there will also be various performances, including one of my favorites, the Ageless Waves of Rhythm, Shelburne Senior Center’s drumming group.

Moonlight Magic starts at 4 pm, giving you plenty of time to sleep in the day after Thanksgiving! Visit shelburnefalls.com for more information or pick up an event brochure the day of to find out what’s happening around the village.

24th Annual Franklin County CiderDays

For a long time, cider has been the traditional drink of New England. Right here in Franklin County, we are lucky to be surrounded by wonderful orchards and cideries, who make this delicious fall drink. For 24 years, Franklin County has celebrated cider with their Annual CiderDays. This 3-day event, always occurring on the first full weekend in November, brings together cider lovers across the county. This year, CiderDays is happening November 2-4 and includes 19 participating venues.

From Friday evening to Sunday evening, there will be a wide variety of events all based around cider, but not necessarily just based around drinking it. There will be talks around cider and apples, demonstrations and cider-making workshops, orchard rides, cider and cheese pairings, and more. You can view the full schedule of events at CiderDays.org, but here are some highlights:

The Shelburne Buckland Community Center will hold talks, tastings, and workshops Saturday and Sunday for beginner through advanced cider lovers. The events at the Community Center will be FREE!

Check out the world’s longest-running hard cider tasting at the Cider Salon in Unity Park, Turners Falls. There will be two sessions on Saturday (3:30-5 and 5:45-7:15) where you can try 120 different ciders from across North America and Europe. Make sure you purchase your tickets for the salon soon because this event sells out.

Bring the whole family to the Cider and Apple Festival, hosted by New Salem Preserves and Orchards on Saturday and Sunday. Attend free workshops, child-friendly apple pressing, and browse local artisan exhibits and farm products.

For the full schedule of events and to purchase tickets for specific events, visit ciderdays.org.

 

Painting for Bid to Benefit Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls

If you stop by Salmon Falls Gallery this month, you will see a special painting on display. “Light Showers” a 42 by 64-inch pastel work has been donated by the artist Peter London for silent auction. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the Bridge of Flowers’ maintenance and upkeep. The bidding started at $500 but London estimates the work to be valued at $2,500.

London has had much success in his career as an artist, becoming internationally known and having his work exhibited in galleries across the country. Him and his wife, Marion, have a home in Shelburne, where she is also a volunteer gardener on the Bridge of Flowers. London has also taught workshops at Rowe Conference Center.

If you are an art lover/collector and want to support the beautiful Bridge of Flowers, Salmon Falls Gallery is accepting bids by telephone, email, or in person at the gallery, 1 Ashfield Street in Shelburne Falls. The bidding will close on Sunday, September 30 at a floral themed gala at the gallery. All are invited to attend and are encouraged to come dressed in “floral finery.” There will be refreshments and live music by Einstein’s Little Homonculus.

Contact Salmon Falls Gallery at 413-625-9833 or salmonfalls@megaplanet.com. Visit them online at www.salmonfallsgallery.com.

 

Run, Walk, Volunteer, or Cheer at the 40th Annual Bridge of Flowers Races!

This Saturday, August 11, marks the 40th Bridge of Flowers Classic Races in Shelburne Falls. Mike McCusker started the races in 1978 and the 3K Walk/Run and 10K Run have been staple events in the village ever since.  Each year thousands of runners come out to compete on one of the toughest courses in New England. The infamous Crittenden Hill makes this course both a challenging and rewarding experience. For the first time ever, the 10K Run has been changed to an 8K, but the 3K Walk/Run remains the same. Online registration for the race has closed but you can register in person at the Friday night Spaghettifest at Buckland Shelburne Elementary School or Saturday morning before the race.

The race supports five local charities and is made possible by many local sponsors and the Greater Shelburne Falls Area Business Association. Hundreds of volunteers contribute their time and effort to make the race safe and fun, by directing traffic, serving food, handing out water to the runners, and more. The race can always use more volunteers so if you want to help, go to shelburnefalls.com to find open volunteer positions.

If you’re not running or volunteering, you can still be a part of the action by cheering on the runners. The course is a figure 8 loop, starting and ending on the Iron Bridge, making it a very spectator-friendly race. The 3K starts at 8:15 am and the 8K starts at 9 am. After the race, head down Deerfield Avenue to the Glacial Potholes for the Post-Race Party and awards ceremony. Runners will also get free pizza courtesy of Pondside Pizza and a free beer from the Blue Rock if they are over 21. Plus, don’t forget to purchase a race shirt to remember this special event.

The weather is forecasted to be perfect for race morning so come out to the village of Shelburne Falls and participate in the 40th Annual Bridge of Flowers Classic Races. For more information, visit the race page here.