Walktober – Chapel Brook Reservation

IMG_8076I’m joining Robin at Breezes at Dawn for her Walktober challenge. Every October Robin sets forth the challenge to post a walk we have taken, then she links them all together at the end of the month for a cross-blog stroll. It is a great way to see beautiful autumn scenery from all over without leaving your armchair.

IMG_7979My spouse and I took our dog, Wren, to Chapel Brook Reservation, a remarkable property managed by The Trustees of Reservations.

I’ve visited this site many times since I was a child and am glad that this unique geological wonder always will be preserved from development and open to everyone to explore and enjoy.

We start our walk at the lowest end of the property on North Poland Road in Conway. A discontinued dirt road leads straight up a hill for about a half a mile, leading directly to Chapel Falls. Instead, we choose an optional side trail that veers off to closely IMG_7987follow Chapel Brook through the woods. Boulder-strewn, it splashes and babbles, with pools hidden by overhanging trees and shrubs ablaze with the colors of autumn.

Feet crunch and swish through fallen leaves as we walk along. A small tributary joins the brook and two foot bridges connect a trail IMG_7986that leads to the Bullitt Reservation which I wrote about for last year’s Walktober. The elevation slowly increases as the trail hugs the edge of the ravine above the stream.

IMG_7998Soon, we hear the falls that cascade a total of fifty feet over the course of one thousand feet of bedrock ledge. Rounding the bend, they come into view.

In spring, these are torrential, but on this day, they are quietly soothing.

There are three large cascades, the middle of which empties into a deep pool that has delighted and cooled many swimmers on hot summer days over the years. The water has worn the rock smooth and algae makes them very slippery. It’s a natural water slide.

I will always remember the first time I came here at the age of perhaps twelve with a friend. The water was so cold as we sat on the edge along the top, scared to venture over the slide. Eventually she pushed off and I followed, bumping along the slippery surface until I was plunged into the pool below. I bobbed up like a cork, gasping with the shock of the icy water, but I was hooked. Discovering that water slide was the best thrill of our summer.

IMG_7999I brought my children here years ago and though I feel my bones are not likely to bounce along this slide ever again, I expect one day I’ll watch my grandchildren enjoy this thrilling ride.

IMG_8018 IMG_8010Crossing the Williamsburg/Ashfield Road that splits the property, we encounter the second half of the reservation that rises steeply to a granite outcropping 1,420 feet in elevation called Pony Mountain.

At its base, a 100-foot cliff face favored by rock climbers, rises in a sheer vertical; years ago, my spouse brought our boys here to enjoy this challenge. However, being extremely afraid of heights and fearing for their lives, I refused to witness it.

IMG_8019There are three ways to get to the top: straight up for the adventurous; the strenuous, boulder-stepping trail that skirts the edge (which my spouse talked me into – phew, what a workout, Wren loved it), and the gentler trail that winds around the back. The latter was the way we came back down.

Looking up, the tree canopy was painted in golds, reds and oranges, made all the more beautiful by the contrasting blue sky beyond. Ravens ‘cronked’ as they wheeled high above and chipmunks by the dozens scolded us as they went about their foraging for winter stores. Never before have I seen so many chipmunks in one place. The acorns, beech and hickory nuts must be plentiful this year.

IMG_8030Once we reached the top, we were treated to a far-reaching view of the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. The sun was warm on the exposed granite ledge and the smell of pine filled the air. IMG_8021

Sitting here in the sun, a nap seems like a good idea after that hike up. I could have sat there for hours, soaking up the warmth while enjoying the view and the chirps of birds. The workaday world felt very far away and I was reluctant to return to it.

IMG_8022Eventually, we made our way back down, enjoying the soft tread of pine needles and moss, the smell of freshly fallen leaves crushed underfoot, reveling in nature’s art – bleached white ferns against a lichen-encrusted stone wall and the brilliant foliage surrounding us.

IMG_8034What a gift to have such a beautiful place so close to home. What special places are you escaping to during these crisp, autumn days?

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Country Living, Field Notes, My Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

82 Responses to Walktober – Chapel Brook Reservation

  1. Walking My Path: Mindful Wanderings in Nature says:

    Beautiful place, beautiful pictures. So nice to see the fall colors. Thank you for such an amazing walk this morning, Eliza!

  2. Oh, this was such a beautiful journey. I remember trees/colors like that when I used to live in the NE. This hike also reminded me of one of my favorites near Ithaca, NY. It’s amazing how such places can lift our spirits ( I really like that this place has been a part of your life for so long 🙂 )

  3. Val Boyko says:

    What a gift indeed Eliza! Thank you for sharing this beautiful walk with us 🍁🍂🍁

  4. Val Boyko says:

    Kim, I was in the Finger Lakes weekend – and the trees were reaching their peak. More yellows over there – yet just as beautiful!

  5. Beautywhizz says:

    Beautiful place and lovely photos. Wren looks very happy.

  6. Enchanting photos! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Julie says:

    Absolutely beautiful Eliza.

  8. Treah says:

    Thanks for taking me back to this beautiful place. You might remember we once rented a house at the base of Pony cliff & walked up there many times also with our dog (& kids). Gorgeous in every season……

  9. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Thank you for letting us share your lovely walk:)

  10. ladygrace33 says:

    Seems like a wonderful walk. Beautiful photos Eliza 🙂

  11. Laurie Graves says:

    What a beautiful walk! Thanks so much for sharing.

  12. Wow! Gorgeous and what fun.

  13. cindy knoke says:

    What gorgeous photos and what a truly beautiful location! Bravo!

  14. Thankyou for sharing this beautiful walk with us Eliza. The pictures really capture the colors and energy.

  15. arlingwoman says:

    What a beautiful walk. You captured the essence of the day in your photos.

  16. I enjoyed the tour and the way your own memories were triggered. Excellent photographs

  17. srickman2014 says:

    What a beautiful journey! Thank you for sharing all of the wonderful details of your hike. Your photos are fantastic! As I was reading your post I was thinking of all of the wonderful hiking spots that are close to me (none with mountains, I live in Illinois). Next weekend I will definitely visit one of those spots!

  18. Looks like a beautiful walk – and such a good idea for a little blog stroll around the country’s fall foliage!

  19. Beautiful photos & descriptions!! I love the Walktober idea! It is truly a gift to have a place like this where you can just walk to whenever you want! I feel as if I’m walking right along with you! Thank you for sharing!! 😀

  20. Jewels says:

    Gorgeous gorgeous Eliza! ❤

  21. What a beautiful place. Wonderful images and commentary. Thanks for letting me come on your walk!

  22. MK says:

    What incredible beauty to have so close. Your photos are just perfect.I sure did enjoy the walk, and I’m not a bit tired. Thanks for sharing!

  23. ladyfi says:

    Wow – what fantastic scenery and gorgeous shots.

  24. Cathy says:

    That is stunning scenery! I really enjoyed coming with you on that walk Eliza, and without burning a single calorie! 😉 We also have some lovely walks nearby – beautiful at any time of year but very special with the autumn colour right now. One day I will have to take some photos…

  25. Oh, so beautiful places…! 🙂

  26. Debra says:

    Wow. This is a place with beautiful energy. What a treat to see. ty

  27. Kathy Sturr says:

    I am thoroughly impressed with the scenery but much more so by your exceptional captures of the water! Looks like I missed a great day. Don’t you love hiking up and away?

  28. W.H. SIM says:

    wonderful shots, especially the long exposure images. the water looks like silk!

  29. Robin says:

    I thought I had commented on this post, but I see I didn’t (I’m scatterbrained these days). This is such a beautiful walk, Eliza, and that waterfall image is stunning.

  30. Pingback: Walktober 2015: The round-up | breezes at dawn

  31. aFrankAngle says:

    Awesome walk!!! Fall has definitely arrived in this location. Beautiful colors – and with a sense of warm temperatures with a refreshing breeze carrying a sense of coolness. Thanks for sharing.

  32. merrildsmith says:

    You captured this beautiful area so well in your post. It looks like you had a great walk–and also great memories.

  33. dawnkinster says:

    What a beautiful place! You are lucky that you have such a place close by. My favorite place near my home is Kensington Park, which I wrote about this year for Walktober. And of course we have the Great Lakes just a bit further away. I loved your walk, thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  34. Dale says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful hike, Eliza! October has got to be the most colourful month of the year. That waterfall is amazing! Gorgeous.

  35. Sallyann says:

    A beautiful escape indeed, and on your doorstep too, couldn’t be better.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  36. Enjoyed your narrative and lovely pictures, especially the first one looking up into the colorful tree branches. That water slide sounds like fun, but I know what you mean about your bones objecting to certain activities that at one time offered so much pleasure.

  37. Elizabeth di Grazia says:

    Wow. Eliza, Wonderful pictures. Thanks for liking my post and reading. I was waiting to see a coyote or a cougar in those photos.

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