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
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 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.