Friday, March 23, 2012

Chesterfield Gorge Hiking

Chesterfield Gorge is an area that can and should be enjoyed by everyone.  It’s not a strenuous or a long hike but the views are amazing.  If you have never seen a gorge then you’re missing out on nature’s amazing power.  The Chesterfield Gorge is a Trustees of Reservation tract and is easy to get to.  It’s only a few miles from yesterday’s trip, Petticoat Hill.  Follow along route 9 until you hit route 143.  Once you are on route 143 turn onto Ireland Street.  Lastly turn onto River Road and it’s right there.  It’s easy and you’ll see signs a few miles before the actual gorge.

Once in the parking lot there are essentially two trails.  The first runs besides the gorge and the second is a dirt road that runs all the way to an entrance to the Gilbert A. Bliss State Forest, and probably through it.  The trail that runs along the gorge eventually dumps into the dirt road after about half a mile.  The trail running along the gorge is the trail we took and it was a spectacular site.  You could take a step back and try to picture how the gorge was made centuries ago.  We walked the trail to the dirt road and continued to walk along the Westfield River.  We saw many great places to fish and we even saw someone fly fishing.  We walked to the start of the Gilbert A. Bliss State Forest then turned around and came back.  On the way back we stopped at a cascading stream that ran down off the hill into the river.  Overall it was a great place to visit with fantastic scenery and a hike that can be as long or as short as you want. 

There are a handful of old historical sites along the East Branch of the Westfield River.  At the start of the gorge trail you will see the High Bridge, that dates back to 1764.  The bridge was the crossing for the Albany-Boston Post Road over the river.  In the early 1800s the Marquis de Lafayette crossed the High Bridge when he made his return to the United States in a yellow stagecoach pulled by white horses.  The other notable parts of the East Branch of the Westfield River is the Unnamed Bridge, Nutshell, Baker Dam, Taylor Bridge, and Indian Hollow.  I didn’t get to view those other sites as they were scattered around the river.  I will go back to visit them all.

To view the Chestfield Gorge site click here.

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