About Tannery Falls
Tannery Falls was perhaps the one waterfall in the New England area that was probably the hardest to get to during our visit in 2013. Whether it was by circumstance or it was just the way it was and will be for the foreseeable future, I had my doubts about whether I’d be able to visit this waterfall given the challenges that I had to overcome to get here. Of course with that said, it was still relatively easy to access, but the kicker was that it involved some rough driving (very risky with a low clearance rental car) to access it trailhead, which I’ll get into in the directions.
But given the real off-the-beaten-path feel of the falls, it didn’t surprise me that it felt like I was the only one enjoying this serene reserve as there wasn’t another soul on the trail nor on the roads to get here in the Savoy Mountain State Forest.
In any case, the falls was really a series of small waterfalls on the Ross Brook, which culminated in a thin but attractive 60ft drop into a dark and densely forested area. In an adjacent brook called Parker Brook, there was also the multi-tiered Parker Brook Falls, which was just a few paces from Tannery Falls. Since I visited this waterfall in the Autumn (mostly for the Fall colors), the waterflow was a little on the light side. I’d imagine that during the Spring or early Summer, this waterfall would be far more powerful and take on a much thicker appearance than what you see on this web page. At least the silver lining to the low waterflow was that the trail was pretty easy to navigate as muddiness and fast-moving stream crossings were a non-issue.
From the car park, I followed a narrow but fairly obvious dirt trail flanked by blue blazes (or hashes) that followed some fencing that kept me from getting too close to the Ross Brook and its dropoffs. There were some tiny upper waterfalls en route so the constant sounds of gurgling streams and rushing water helped to break the stillness of the morning air.
The trail then descended down a series of steps eventually reaching its bottom between both Tannery Falls and Parker Brook Falls. I was able to see the latter waterfall after scrambling a short distance off the trail to the right (facing the base of the descent) where there were multiple thin tiers in succession. Given the low light of the morning when I showed up, it was tricky to photograph without a tripod (which I didn’t bring for this hike). But just a few paces going in the other direction, I was able to see some rock cairns stacked up next to some fallen tree that I used as a pseudo-tripod to take photos of the main Tannery Falls itself.
Although I had noticed some trails that led further downstream (even crossing the stream) towards some trees that had some faint blue blazes on them, I couldn’t figure out where they went as all trails eventually disappeared. So I was content to just turn around and go back up to the car park, and the time I spent away from the car was roughly a little under an hour (which included my fruitless meanderings so this hike could consume even less time).
From the town of North Adams, MA, the most straightforward way to get to the falls would have been to go east on Route 2 for about 12 miles passing by the small hamlet of Florida and some gorgeous views from Eastern Summit. Then, at the bottom of the descent, turn right onto Black Brook Rd(easy to miss given the high speeds gained from the descent) just after a bridge. Black Brook Rd would lead to the unmaintained Tannery Road, which would then shortly reach the trailhead parking, which was signed when heading west on Tannery Road.
However, during my visit in 2013, Black Brook Road was closed because of what appeared to be a major washout. So I had to backtrack towards Central Shaft Road, which was about 5 miles east of North Adams on Route 2. Then, I followed Central Shaft Rd south for about 6 miles. This road became Florida Road, Burnett Road, and then New State Road as the pavement degenerated in quality until it eventually became unpaved when I entered the Savoy Mountain State Forest. There were some nasty potholes encountered in the state forest on this stretch, but as long as I took my time, I was able to spot them and avoid them.
At the end of the 6 miles of driving, I then turned left onto the rough and unmaintained Tannery Road. It was here that I was concerned about potential damage to the rental car while driving on the narrow road. In a couple of spots, there were some ruts that conspired to scrape the underside of the car. There were also a couple of rocky spots where I was a little concerned about popping a tire. But in any case, I really took my time so I eventually made it to the subtle turnoff for the car park and trailhead on the left about 1.8 miles east of Florida Rd.
This car park was really easy to miss given that the sign was only meant for westbound traffic. Eastbound traffic (which was what I took) did not have such a sign so it took me some time to figure out that I was finally in the right place.
Finally, perhaps the next most direct driving route to the falls (with Black Brook Road out of commission) was to head east on Hoosac Road from the town of Adams for about 5 miles. I believe this road was paved, and it became Adams Road somewhere near the Savoy Mountain State Forest boundary. Then, you turn left to go onto the unpaved New State Road and follow it for about 1.3 miles to the unmaintained Tannery Road, where you then head east on it for about 1.8 miles to the trailhead. Going in this way from North Adams (where we were staying) took me roughly 45 minutes of driving. However, the circuitous route I took earlier in the morning via Central Shaft Rd took me a little over an hour.
For context, North Adams was 21 miles (under 45 minutes drive) north of Pittsfield, 45 miles (over an hour drive) east of Albany, New York, 141 miles (under 3 hours drive) west of Boston, and 173 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of New York City.
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