Category Archives: parks

Dinosaur Footprints Reservation (Holyoke, MA)

Date Visited: May 31, 2016

Location: US-5, Holyoke, MA – it comes up pretty quick (about half a mile from the entrance to Mount Tom on Reservation Rd).

Cost: Free

Hours: Open from dawn until dusk

Parking:  There is room for about 5 cars.

Dog Friendly:  I didn’t see during my visit.  But, yes, they are welcome!

Highlights:  Dinosaur footprints, Connecticut River behind the footprints, active wildlife, very short and easy trail to the footprints and river

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A long, long time ago, the entire Connecticut River Valley, specifically the Holyoke area, was home to a variety of dinosaurs.   And you can still see their footprints in the ancient mudflaps of the region.  There are also remnants of flowers and even ripples of water from the streams that once flowed in the area.

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The prints are believed to have been formed during the early Jurassic period, making them approximately 200 million years old.   Or, about as long as your average RMV/DMV wait time.

The main types of dinosaurs that are thought to have existed in this location are theropod dinosaurs.  Theropod dinosaurs are mainly 2 legged creatures.  Some of the more well-known Theropods are  Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velicoraptor and Torvosaurus (think some of the dinosaurs from the Jurassic Park movies).  It is believed these types of dinosaurs evolved into the birds that we now see so prevalent in the area.

I did see a lot of bird life but I didn’t see any theropods.

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One of the nice surprises was seeing the stream behind the footprints; the Connecticut River.  In fact, although seeing the footprints was cool, this may have been the highlight of the trip for me.

The Dinosaur Footprints Reservation is a great place to visit if you want to check out some cool remnants from a distant era.  But, it is also a nice place to go and sit by the river or go fishing.  Just don’t stay too long if you start seeing the water shaking.  You know, like in the movie.

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Natural Bridge State Park (North Adams, MA)

The bridges of Western Massachusetts are not just the ones you see on the roadways. But, don’t let the name fool you.  The Natural Bridge State Park has so much more to offer.

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Before you reach the natural bridge, a brook greets you at the entrance.

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Formed through series of continental collisions, erosion and the meltwaters caused by the Ice Age, the natural marble bridge is the only one of its kind in North America.

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Deep crevices and chasms were carved through the years of erosion and warming and cooling.

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The only marble bridge in North America, the natural bridge in North Adams is located just off the The Mohawk Trail. 

Adding to the beauty of the natural bridge, the park has a waterfall.

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The Natural Bridge State Park also has impressive views of the bridge and the park it overlooks.

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There are many flowers, trees, rocks, bridges (a bridge on a bridge of all things) and even David’s Bench that give the Natural Bridge State Park a special charm.

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During our travels, we met Sasha.

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Just as you think you’ve seen all the Natural Bridge State Park has to offer there is a small park area atop the walking bridge.  Statues and other structures made from the materials mined from the one time quarry rest along the top of the lofty bridge.  It capped off a perfect visit.

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Granville State Forest (Granville, MA)

Granville State Forest is 2,000 plus acre state forest and campground located in, you guessed it Granville, Massachusetts.  Be advised, the trails are long in between the various ponds, brooks and various other attractions.  But, you can drive on the unpaved roads if walking isn’t your style.

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Located about 45 minutes from Springfield, MA, Granville State Forest was once a popular hunting spot for the Tunxis.  I didn’t run into Tunxis during this visit.  But, I did see some stunning views.  Take this waterfall, for instance.

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But, to really get a sense of the beauty of the Hubbard River, one must get off the beaten path, or bridge as it were in this case.

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It’s amazing the things you see when you get off the main path.  Like this Frog with his lunch.

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Or this artful graffiti, especially the curse words.  It’s vary quaint.  Oh, you crazy kids.  At least I hope it was kids who wrote it.

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There are also an abundance of pretty flowers and trees.

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About a mile from the bridge over the Hubbard stream, there is the two acre Bahre Pond.  Bahre Pond has some pretty views.

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It is also teeming with wildlife, like this water snake.

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And this frog who thought he could hide from me.

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Granville State Park also has some paths off the main trails that have some hidden gems.

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The main attraction at Granville State Forest has to be the waterfall.  Below is a short video of the waterfall in all its splendor.


Chester-Blandford State Forest (Chester, MA)

After photographing a variety of mountainous, rocky state parks, I thought it was time to mix it up and visit a rocky, hilly waterfall.  Initially, we planned on visiting CM Gardner State Park.  But, the helpful park rangers at CM Gardner suggested something more picturesque, Chester-Blandford State Forest.

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Since it encompasses such a large area (over 2,700 acres), Chester-Blandford has several entrances.  The first part of the park we arrived at, Boulder Park, is a rather small area with a pond and a few ill defined trails.  But, right from the rocky steps and mossy trails at the entrance it has a unique charm.

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The trails also have some unique walkways and structures.

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The highlight of the park may be the deep opening off the main trail.

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Boulder Rock also has some eye catching plants and wild life.

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The pond near the end of the main trail was a nice surprise.

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Boulder Rock also had its share of wildlife such as this salamander and mouse.

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Alas, our trip to Boulder Rock was over.  But, about a mile down the road another entrance beckoned us, the main entrance to the Sanderson Brooks Falls trail of Chester-Blandford.

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Pitcuresque views are scattered along the Brooks Falls trail.

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Due to the lack of rain recently, the rapids weren’t very, well, rapid.  But, the relatively still water and rocky brook provided some good shots.

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Sanderson Brook Falls also had a fair share of wildlife such as caterpillars,

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Toads

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and dogs, like Loona.

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After a roughly half an hour trek along some rocky terrain, a number of bridges and some steep inclines, I made it to the falls.   DSC_0338  DSC_0340   DSC_0354  DSC_0352 DSC_0351  DSC_0344  DSC_0341

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The brooks and falls are sure to be more active during the stormy seasons.  But, it is still impressive and worth the trip.

To get the full effect of the falls, click on the short video below.

Is there anywhere in the New England area you would like me to visit?

What are some of your favorite waterfalls?

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October Mountain (Lee, MA)

Even though it’s only August, today was the perfect day for a trip to Mount October.

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Roughly, a 45 minute drive west of Springfield, MA, Mount October is located in the majestic Berkshires. The wild flowers and plant life, which are a staple of the Berkshires, were in full bloom.

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The wildlife at Mount October was also abundant.

There were salamanders

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toads

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caterpillars

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centipedes

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and dogs!

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Olive posed during her walk with her dad

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Emily stuck her head out for some fresh air.

While it serves as a campground, the hiking trails are perhaps the most notable part of the state forest.  But, the most challenging part of Mount October was the terrain of these hiking trails.  Dew and rain made for marshy, washed out paths which made it even more difficult when you had to cross rocky areas.  Some parts of the paths were also fairly steep.

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Interestingly, I visited Woods Pond earlier this year which is a section of Mount October.  The blog for which can be found here.  Even though I had already taken photos of Woods Pond previously, I took a few more during my visit at Mount October.

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Mount October is the largest state park in Massachusetts.  And, despite spending several hours there, we were only able to cover a fraction of the area.  Perhaps I’ll come back in the fall.


Hampton Ponds (Westfield, MA)

Pretty waterscapes are not regulated to the coastlines of New England.  Hampton Ponds State Park is proof of this.  A cute, expansive series of ponds that dot the Westfield area, Hampton Ponds is a popular area for swimmers, sun bathers and boaters.

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Upon reaching Hampton ponds, I was greeted by a gaggle of geese.

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And this one solitary goose.

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Hampton Ponds has some very impressive trees.

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But, it was the vivid greens and wild flowers of the ponds that stood out to me.

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Dragonflies also seemed to enjoy the greenery of Hampton Ponds.

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The water is so transparent at Hampton Ponds, you can see the fish that inhabit the waters.

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Birds are also plentiful at Hampton Ponds.  This swallow sort of blended into the sand on the beach head.

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Boaters and kayakers took advantage of the warm weather and clear waters at Hampton Ponds

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The motorboats created pretty ripples along the glassy water.

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Hampton Ponds doesn’t have any long walking trails.  But, it does make up for it with its pretty views.

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Hampton Ponds is also a popular spot for dogs.

Hercules stopped playing so I could take his photo.

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Sparky happily posed for his photo.

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Hampton Ponds is also the perfect place to reflect

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or to go fishing

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or to just play in the water.

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Mittaneague Park (West Springfield, MA)

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Legend has it the Native Americans called Mittaneague (pronounced Mit-tin-aig) “the valley of falling water.”  The park more than lives up to this description.

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Mittineague Park was, without question, the park with the most difficult terrain to travel that I have visited while writing this blog.  The sharp inclines, fences furnished with barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs, overgrown brush, unkempt make shift trails and other obstacles made it difficult to photograph.

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It is a shame because Mittineague has some wonderful views.

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Mittineague also has a tunnel under the railroad tracks that run through the park.

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During my visit, the train passed by on the rickety rails.

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and kept going…

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and kept going…

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and going…

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and, well, you get the picture…

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But, the gem of the park must be its stone bridges and walkways.

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Mittineague also has an impressive assortment of trees.  They are majestic not just in their stature but also in their sheer beauty.

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There is also a variety of plant life and wild flowers.

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Mittineague is also teeming with birds

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frogs

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and, of course, dogs.

Lucy did a great job fetching her frisbee.

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Lincoln posed proudly with his mommy.

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And Annabelle smiled broadly for her photo.

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Mittineague also has well manicured soccer fields and baseball diamonds and its basketball and tennis courts as well as a play area for kids.

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Or, the kids can just go for a swim in the various brooks and waterfalls at Mittineague.

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