Western Mass

Zoar Outdoor 5th Best Rafting Company in the US

zoar outdoor rafting deerfield riverRecently, Zoar Outdoor was named the 5th best rafting company in the nation by a USA Today readers’ poll. An expert panel chose 15 rafting companies around the country to vote from, and then readers voted, placing Zoar Outdoor in Charlemont at number 5. This is a great accomplishment, not only for Zoar, but for our area too. It shows how Franklin County is a place with top outdoor companies and natural attractions worth visiting.

Zoar offers a variety of activities on the Deerfield River. They have rafting trips for small children and first-timers on the river, to adrenaline junkies seeking a thrill. The float trip is a great way to experience the scenery and enjoy the river in a relaxed way. The Zoar Gap rafting trip is a nice way to experience more intermediate whitewater and the Dryway rafting trip is for those ready to paddle as a team and hit bigger features on the river. Guests can also experience the river from a kayak for an afternoon on the Guided River Kayaking tour or learn to whitewater kayak in one of their instructional clinics. Off the river, Zoar has tours on the first Zipline Canopy Tour in Massachusetts and rock climbing tours.

Two other outfitters also operate on the Deerfield and offer a great customer experience. Crabapple Whitewater offers rafting and inflatable kayak tours, and Berkshire East has their own whitewater rafting team, as well.

The Deerfield River is also enjoyed by fly fisherman. The river has a mix of wild and stocked trout. Due to the scheduled water releases, the water stays cold through the summer. However, the river requires a skilled navigator to maneuver around rocks and through sections of whitewater rapids. Fortunately, there are plenty of guide services operating on the Deerfield river, ready to show fishermen the best spots to find fish:

Deerfield River MassachusettsJonathan Bunker – http://squaretailanglers.com/

Mike Didonna – http://www.deerfieldflyshop.com/

Walt Geryk – http://neffguide.com/ma.html

Eric Halloran – https://fishtalefabricators.com/

Dan & Tom Harrison – http://www.harrisonanglers.com/

Chris Jackson – http://www.flyfishthedeerfield.com/

Brian Lynch – http://www.pheasanttailtours.com/

Overwatch Outpost, Charlie Ricko  – http://overwatch-outpost.com

The Deerfield River can also be enjoyed just as much from shore. There are several great swimming spots along the river. Shunpike rest area in Charlemont has a nice small beach and great rocks for lounging. The river is also relatively shallow in that spot, making it nice for wading out into the water (depending on the water release level). The Zoar Picnic Area in Charlemont is also a great spot for setting up a picnic. There are plenty of tables and camping grills to have a BBQ and hang by the river. 

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Sources: http://deerfieldrivertroutunlimited.com/local-fly-shops-and-guide-services/
http://franklincc.chambermaster.com/news/details/news-release-8-6-2019-30
https://www.flyfisherman.com/editorial/the-deerfield-river/151807

Photo Credit: Bob Story Photography

Local State Forests Worth Visiting in Franklin County

Living in Franklin County, Massachusetts, we don't have to go far to find pristine waters, gorgeous landscapes, and remote places to relax in nature. In fact, we don't even have to leave the county! Check out these local state forests which offer hiking, canoeing, fishing, camping, and more! 

Kenneth Dubuque State Forest PlainfieldKenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest

Located on West Hawley Road in Plainfield, Kenneth Dubuque Memorial State Forest (pictured right) offers 35 miles of mixed-use trails. Hiking, mountain-biking, and snowmobiling are all permitted activities in the state forest, as long as you remain on the marked trails. You can also relax and fish at Hallockville Pond, where you will find the remains of an old mill. Other remains of the past include cellar holes from abandoned village of South Hawley and a rare fieldstone "beehive" charcoal kiln. More information here.

Catamount State Forest

Catamount State Forest is a part of the former village of Colrain, Catamount. Catamount was the site of the first schoolhouse to fly the United States Flag in 1812. Now, much of Catamount is public land, although part of it is private property so beware of no trespassing signs. The former roads of Catamount are no mostly accessible by foot, mountain bike, or snowmobile. Trails lead up to a beautiful pond, not suitable for swimming, but great for canoeing to its islands. More info here.

Erving State Forest

Erving State Forest is a beautiful forest and campground located on Route 2 in Erving. The park supports a variety of outdoor recreational activities. You can hike, bike, or snowmobile along the 8-miles of forest roads and trails, go boating, swimming, or fishing at the pristine Laurel Lake, and camp at the easily accessed campgrounds. Camping is $17/night for Massachusetts residents and $27/night for non-residents. Parking fees (only applicable Memorial Day through Labor Day) are $8/day for Massachusetts residents and $15/day for non-residents. More info here.

Mohawk Trail State Forest

Also on Route 2/Mohawk Trail, but on the other side of Interstate 91, lies 6,000 acres of mountain ridges, gorges, and woods that compose the Mohawk Trail State Forest. Right along the Deerfield River, there are plenty of great swim spots and miles of river to canoe and kayak. Bring your own tent to camp or stay in one of their cabins. There are grills, a pavilion, and picnic areas on site. More information here.
 

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.

 

 

 

Burnt Hill Farm Shares Their Delicious Blueberries With Western Mass

Burnt Hill Blueberry Farm Heath MassachusettsBurnt Hill Blueberry Farm in Heath, Massachusetts is excited to share their delicious blueberries with their neighbors of Western Mass. Last year, the Nartowicz Family, which has been in Heath for over a hundred years, purchased the farm. Now, they are growing low bush wild blueberries high in the hills of Heath. 

Their first blueberry season is already off to a great start, with all of their pick-your-own appointments already filled! You can still get some blueberries of your own, by ordering pre-picked boxes of blueberries on their website, burnthillfarm.com. You can pick them up in July and August. Prices are $38 for a 10 lb box and $68 for a 20 lb box.  

You could also run into them at a local farmers’ market or farm stand, selling pints and quarts! Stay up to date on what they’re up to this summer by following them on Facebook

Happy berry season!

burnt hill blueberry farm heath massachusetts bushes

 

 

4th of July Celebrations in Franklin County Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts 4th of JulyWestern Mass is a great place to be on the 4th of July. Communities all around come together to celebrate Independence Day and enjoy summer. Check out these events happening for July 4th, right in our area:

Independence Day Jazz Concert

The Federated Church on Main Street in Charlemont is hosting an afternoon Jazz Concert with Kamaya Diggs, vocalist, and her combo from 4 to 5:30 pm.

COOP Concert

Every Thursday, this free summer music series attracts enthusiastic audiences to its family friendly downtown location by presenting a variety of talented Franklin County performers whose styles include Folk, Country, String Band, Singer/Songwriter, Bluegrass, Americana, Celtic, Comedy, Rock and Pop. Bring a blanket, lawn chair, picnic, or grab a quick "to go" at one of our nearby food establishments. 

For Thursday, July 4, 2019, from 6-8 pm, the series presents Jim Eagan and Dennis Avery, Joe Graveline and Nina Gross, and The frost heaves and hales.

All shows are at Greenfield Energy Park, 50 Miles Street, Greenfield and presented by the Franklin County Musicians Cooperative, a non-profit of over 40 musicians, and supported by local businesses.

Shelburne Falls Cub Scouts Parade and BBQ

The Shelburne Falls Cub Scouts, Pack 85, will host a parade through the village of Shelburne Falls at 11:30 am on Thursday, July 4th. The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8503 will provide the color guard during the parade. The parade will end at the Buckland Shelburne Elementary School, 75 Mechanic Street, for a chicken barbecue, a fundraiser for the cub scouts. During the barbecue, there will also be a military band concert to entertain while you eat. 

Independence Day Community Celebration and Fireworks

Greenfield is hosting it's celebration and fireworks on Friday, July 5 at 4 pm to 10:30 on Beacon Field with music, vendors, food and more. See the flyer below for the full-lineup!

Happy 4th of July!

Greenfield's Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks

 

Celebrate the River at Deerfield Riverfest!

The Deerfield River is a beautiful landmark of our area. It draws people from all around to take advantage of its majestic waters, abundance of fish, and relaxing shorelines. Celebrate the Deerfield River this weekend with Zoar Outdoor and American Whitewater at the Deerfield River Festival in Charlemont, MA. 

All weekend long, Friday, June 28 through Sunday, June 30, Zoar Outdoor is offering free mini clinics for paddlers with some experience, seeking to improve their skills. This is a great opportunity to connect with other canoeists and kayakers and to pick up some tips from the Zoar instructors. Various outdoor sales representatives will be hanging out too, showing different boats and gear. You can pre-register for the clinics at Zoaroutdoor.com/demofest.

Then, on Saturday night, there will be a big party at the Charlemont Fairgrounds in celebration and appreciation of the Deerfield River. Enjoy live music, beer, and food, while you bid on auction items to support American Whitewater, the primary advocate for protecting whitewater rivers throughout the United States. You can also watch raft guides compete in the raft guide olympics, a series of rafting themed competitive events. Pitch a tent and camp at the fairgrounds after the festival. 

More information at americanwhitewater.org.

zoar outdoor demofest deerfield river american whitewater

 

 

May 2019 Sales Report of Single Family Homes in Pioneer Valley

real estate sales report pioneer valley massachusettsSales of single family homes in Franklin County were up 22.2% and median price up 3.7% in May 2019 compared to May 2018. The sales were up in Hampden County, while sales were down in Hampshire County. Median price was up in both Hampden and Hampshire Counties. 

The average days on market was up 4.2% from 68 days in May 2018 compared to 71 days in May 2019. Listings that are pending (under agreement to sell) were up 4.9% from 677 listings pending in May 2018 to 710 listings pending sale in May 2019.

may 2019 sales report pioneer valley key points

may 2019 single family home sales report pioneer valley

pioneer valley local market update massachusetts real estate sale reportfranklin county local market update sales report

Get Ready to Build: Parcels For Sale!

This Spring, get ready to build your home the way you want it. Check out these beautiful parcels of land for sale in Franklin County, Massachusetts. Then contact Wanda today for questions about these properties or building your own home.

East Hawley Road, Hawley, MA

138 wooded acres located high in the hills of Hawley! Potentially be a great spot to build a getaway place or year round home. There is plenty of room to roam and enjoy the sounds of nature. For those who are outdoor enthusiast Berkshire East Resort is located at the base of the hill where you can downhill ski, have fun on the alpine and zipline rides or the latest addition numerous mountain bike trails. In addition this area offers white water rafting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and so much more! Only 10 minutes away is the charming Village of Shelburne Falls and not far from the Berkshires. Call today for a map and go take a hike.

Phillips Hill Road, Colrain, MA

Secluded 4 acre wooded setting is the perfect spot to build your getaway in the country. It is located at the end of a quiet country road and abuts the Vermont State line and near Cooke State Forest. There is a passed percolation test on file and it is surveyed and ready to go. Near plenty of recreational activities including down hill skiing, hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, and more!

Legate Hill Road, Charlemont, MA

Beautiful 33 acre building site located on top of a knoll overlooking picturesque southwesterly mountain views. This private setting is the ideal spot to build your dream home or a getaway cabin in the woods. It is ready to go with a entrance roughed in, power at the street, surveyed and comes with a valid percolation test. It abuts snowmobile trails and located just minutes to Berkshire Resort that offers downhill skiing, zipline, alpine slide, and fabulous mountain bike trails. It is also located near the Deerfield River which is known for fly fishing and white water rafting. Charlemont is becoming the recreational capitol of New England and the perfect area for outdoor enthusiast. 

Colrain Shelburne Road, Shelburne, MA

Beautiful Shelburne building lot with lovely views and open land. There is a very large pole barn that needs work but could be converted to provide excellent storage or enclose for shop space. This is a great spot to build and it is conveniently located less than 10 minutes from I-91 in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls. You are not far from Vermont or the Berkshires. Surrounded by fabulous recreational and cultural activities. The land has a passed percolation test, power at the street and survey on file. 

Hosmer Road, Heath, MA

Attractive 13 acre wooded parcel with 1928ft of frontage on two town maintained roads. It is a peaceful setting on a quiet country road. The land is relatively flat and there is a brook on the property. There is a recent passed percolation test and power along the street. It is perfect for someone who wants to build a getaway place to enjoy on weekends. It is located near many popular recreational activities that include Berkshire Resort that offers downhill skiing, alpine slide, zip lines, and popular mountain bike trails. In addition there is fly fishing and white water rafting on the Deerfield River, hiking trails, snowmobiling, cross country skiing and more. It is near Shelburne Falls, not far from Vermont and only 45 minutes to the Berkshires.

 

 

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!



 

Magnificent Log Style Home in Leyden For Sale

Custom designed magnificent log style home located in a private 12 acre setting conveniently located near Route 5 and I-91 just north of Bernardston center. This special home has been used as a successful Airbnb business and it is the ideal countryside retreat. You will instantly fall in love with the great room that features an open kitchen, dining and living area with 20ft cathedral ceiling, exposed beams and a beautiful stone gas fireplace. The master suite has a full bath with tiled shower, vaulted ceiling, den with sliding glass doors to the front porch, and a laundry room. There are two additional bedrooms each with their own private full bath, vaulted ceiling and sliding glass door with access to your own private porch. In addition there are gorgeous wood floors, radiant heat, 3 on demand hot water heaters, sprinkler system, mini split heat & air conditioning, huge full basement and attached 2 car garage. There is a small barn with fenced in area for sheep! Must be seen!
 
Call or email Wanda today for a viewing! 413-768-9848 or Wanda@Wandamooney.com
                    
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