As the highest waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bish Falls rests in all of its dramatic beauty and glory in the Taconic Mountains in the Berkshire County, adjacent to Mount Washington State Forest. Nearly 200 feet total, its beautiful waters begin at a spring in Mount Washington and trail through a series of cascades, with the final one split into twin falls by a massive, protruding boulder. It continues into Bash Bish Brook, joining the Hudson River and flowing into the city of Copake.
But as enchantingly powerful as the rapids are, a chilling story looms behind Bash Bish Falls, making the trail to this destination one of America's most haunted.
History of Bash Bish Falls
The haunting of Bash Bish Falls comes from the tale of a young Mohican woman named Bash Bish. Legend says that she was accused of adultery, and for her punishment, she was to be sent over the falls tied to a canoe. However, right when her canoe tipped over the edge, a halo of butterflies appeared.
When recovering the smashed canoe and her body below, only the wooden pieces were found floating at the waterfall's small base, and the young woman was never found. Some time later, the woman's daughter, White Swan committed suicide by throwing herself over the same ledge. Since then, more than 25 people have died at Bash Bish Falls, mostly from miscalculated cliff jumps and falls. Nonetheless, hikers have explained how they caught glimpses of a woman watching them behind the moving water.
Haunted Massachusetts: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Bay State on Amazon
How to Get to Bash Bish Falls
Aside from the people who fell to their deaths, ideally, you'll want to climb to the top of Bash Bish Falls to get the vast panoramic views of the Taconic Mountains, which separate the Massachusetts and New York state lines. The rocky summit is guarded by wire fences to keep hikers from falling off the edge, and while carefully heading back down to the pool at the base of the falls, you can search for the woman's apparition.
Unfortunately, park rangers uphold strict "no swimming" rules to prevent people from getting in the water. Over the years, the area has become polluted with those who have taken the place's natural beauty for granted, with visitors throwing empty beer bottles, and even the barriers that were put in place, into Bash Bish Brook. So to prevent human destruction, they've restricted where people can hang out.
Thankfully, you can still travel to admire the falls, and there are a few ways you can get there. The two access points are the Massachusetts parking lot and the New York parking area, both falling on Falls Road. From the Massachusetts side, you'll embark on a difficult but short hike that consists of a 0.6 mile round-trip to and from the falls in Bash Bish Falls State Park. However, this Massachusetts trailhead has also been closed down as a consequence to the recent recklessness.
New York Trailhead
The other access point is from the New York side, whose trailhead is in Taconic State Park. From the NY lot, you'll find that this is an easy hike along the Bash Bish Falls Trail, consisting of a 1.5-mile round-trip to and from the falls. Taconic State Park also shares a border with Massachusetts and Connecticut, holding campgrounds at Copake Falls for hikers who are interested. Check out this trail map to plan out your adventure.
South Taconic Trail
Another option is the South Taconic Trail. This hiking trail is more of a commitment with its length hitting almost 12.5 miles, but it's also accessible from Taconic State Park. Although you'll run into the falls midway through the trail, you actually have different trailhead options for where you want to start your journey. Nevertheless, it's highly recommended that you do not hike this trail without a map.
Have you ever seen the ghost of Bash Bish Falls? Share your experience with us on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.