Hike of the Week - Natural Bridge State Park
Week 1 - Hike 1
Natural Bridge Park
North Adams, MA
Weather: High of 79º / Humidity 92% / Partially Cloudy
Today was a great day for a hike. I didn’t get to start my second plan (because I forgot about it until I was on the road), but that leaves me a little surprise for next time.
A little about the plan . . .
I want to go on a hike a week this summer, maybe cary that over the entire year. After each hike, I’m going to write up a bit of a blog post about what I thought of the place and the trail difficulty, then write a short verse that I’m going to use to create a longer poem about the nature and New England (or at least Western Mass). We’ll see how it works. This week’s hike was:
This park boasts the only natural white marble bridge in North America. It also has the only white marble damn in North America. So that made it seem like a good starting point for no other reason than I thought those two things were neat (high qualifications, I know).
The marble damn was absolutely beautiful, it wasn’t huge by damn standards, but it was a solid waterfall and the family was impressed (more on them later). The water from the damn flowed down through a smallish river which cut its way through a roughly 60 foot, naturally carved canyon. There were several potholes (areas carved out by water and rocks) and some nice views overlooking the water and an abandoned marble quarry.
There are fences between you and anything dangerous, so this is totally safe to bring kids to. I had my wife and both my kids (5 & 3) with me and never once was worried about someone falling to their death on the rocks, so that was a plus. The walk to the falls is about 3 minutes at toddler speed, and there are about 6 or so places with steps to climb up or down to get better views. I was hoping for something more spectacular with the marble bridge, but it was cool to see and the family loved it.
All throughout the area with the damn and gorge, there was informational signs explaining everything from marble to minerals to the Appalachian Mountains. The signs were clear and in good condition with big letters and easy vocabulary for children to understand.
How hard was the hike?
The hike up to the damn and the marble bridge was more like a stroll than a hike. Very easy as long as you can handle stairs and roots. There was also a small nature trail that was well marked behind the welcome center. The trail allowed a leisurely hike through the woods on a well marked and obvious trail. I used the time to teach my daughter about trail markings, so that was nice and educational.
In addition to the walk and the hike, there is an area with sculptures from high school students back in the early 2000’s and a lot of open grass and picnic tables. This was great to relax on after the walk and let the kids run around. It is a very family friendly place.
Was it crowded?
There wasn’t much for crowds, while we were there maybe 5 other couples were around. No body was on the nature trail, and we only had to wait once for one of the viewing stations. This was in the middle of the day on a Monday, and I think a lot of the schools in the area were still in session, so I could see there being a issue with crowds on a nice day in the weekend.
I think this was a good place to go for an easy day with friends of the family, but not if you’re looking for any real hiking.
As I mentioned before, I took the family on this first hike and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. I was able to teach my daughter some basics of trail hiking, my son was able to navigate the trails and walks with little difficulty, and they were even able to climb on some of the rocks, so they were happy. The fences kept them safe, so my wife and I could relax and enjoy the views as well, so we were happy.
While man’s thumbprint on the land is hard to escape
in her inexorable, patient
turning of the clock
finds the paths
through which her gossamer curtain,
pulled like a veil on a virgin bride,
the ridges, and softening them,
like the tannins in a well made wine,
brings harmony where discord should reside.