Tag Archives: rocks

Rattlesnake Gutter (Leverett, MA)


Dates of Visits: May 27 & 29, 2017

Location: 16 Rattlesnake Gutter Rd, Leverett, MA

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There is not a designated parking area.  But, there is an area to park by the front gate on the side of the road on Guttersnake Rd

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.93 miles (Rattlesnake Gutter trail) with connecting loops and other trails that can add a significant amount of distance to your hike.  Easy too moderate trails.

Handicapped Accessible: No.  The terrain is rocky with some steep inclines

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fitbit Stats: 3.45 miles, 711 calories, 8,027 steps

Highlights: chasm, wildlife, easy to moderate trails, art, unique rock formations, ponds

Website: Rattlesnake Gutter Trust

Trail Map: Rattlesnake Gutter Trail Map


Don’t let the name scare you.  There really aren’t any, or at least not many, rattlesnakes at Rattlesnake Gutter Trail.  Legend has it rattlesnakes once did populate the area.  But, due mostly to a concerted effort to rid the area of these snakes, you’e rarely see a rattlesnake there.

I actually had to make two visits to this trail because some of the photos on one of memory cards were not saved.  Yeah, okay, twist my arm.  I’ll go again, I figured to myself.

Before you even reach the trail, there is an interesting find in a field at the entrance of Rattlesnake Gutter Rd.  A group of bee hives sat under a tree in a pretty field while what looked like a falcon soared high above.

The trail is known more for the chasm that runs through most of the main trail from the Rattlesnake Gutter Rd entrance.  The trail is described as a boulder that runs 3/4 mile long and 1/8 mile wide.  It produces a lot of pool-like streams between the rocky edges.

There are also several pools of water along the trail with some frogs and other aquatic animals.

Between the rocky sides there is a roughly mile trail with several mini waterfall-like streams and a very long way down if you’re not careful.

The dirt trails are easy to moderate in some areas due to the somewhat strenuous inclines in some areas.  At least they were strenuous to a middle aged hiking novice.

The origins of the chasm are unclear.  Some theories include a sub glacial melt water channel or a tear at the site of an old geologic fault.  Another theory suggests it was caused by a spillway for a temporary pro glacial lake.  I would go with the last one.  Just because I like to say “pro glacial.”  In any event, the rocks show the aftermath of some major event.

Unexpectedly, we found some art along the rocks.

It’s not known who created this art or why.  But, it is pretty cool.  You know how if you look at a photo or rock long enough, you can see other images?  Well, to the right of the tree in the photo below just above the greenery and boulder in the right hand corner of the photo, there appears to be possibly the outline of a cat’s face (you may have to tilt your head to see it). Or, maybe I’ve just drank too much caffeine and I’m seeing things.   It could just be the way the rocks appear from the weather and erosion.


We took the main guttersnake trail to the connector loop to Whitney Rd.  The connecting loop is hard to find.  It is actually a trail made into the side of the hill on the trail that was made into a zig zag design. I wouldn’t have probably found it if I hadn’t noticed someone walking down what looked like the side of a hill.

The Whitney Trail looks a little confusing at first (make sure to follow the red marked trees).  But, after a short distance, there will be signs and maps that will help you stay on the trail.  That is one of the unusual things about this trail.  There are several maps posted throughout the trail.  There are alternate routes you can take if you have the time and curiosity.  While I am always curious, I didn’t the time.  So, I stayed on the Whitney Rd trail.  This intersection of trails can take you farther into different sections of the trail system.  But, as time was a factor, I was unable to explore more.


Whitney Rd is just that, a road.  There are some pretty houses, cute decor and signs as well as beautiful landscapes along this part of the trail.

There were also some interesting rock formations and pretty trees along the way.

Along Whitney Rd, on the left of the trail we saw am empty area with tall trees and what looked like an overlook.  To our surprise, we found what looked like an area for parties or other events.  A van with speakers and what looked like an audio system was parked in the area.  There was also a table with chairs and jug of some kind of adult concoction and some other artistic designs.

Rattlesnake Gutter is the perfect place to take your dog.  Although, I would only recommend it for a “fit” dog, as I would recommend it for a “fit” person since the inclines can be deceivingly steep in some places.

These dogs had no problem with the trail.

Huckleberry is a rescue from Mississippi.

Luna is a 3 year old rescue.

Below are two videos of the streams at Rattlesnake Gutter Trail.

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation (Sutton, MA)

Date Visited: September 4, 2016

Location: 198 Purgatory Rd., Sutton, MA

Hours: Open everyday, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the main lot and several additional parking areas farther down the road in the park.

Cost:  $5 MA Vehicle, $6 non-MA Vehicle

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 hour to 3 hours

Trail Difficulty: Ranges from Difficult (The Chasm) to easy (The Charley Loop)

Highlights: interesting rock structures, jagged, rocky trails and wildlife

Lowlights: some of the trails can be dangerous, especially if there has been rain or snow in the area or if you do not wear proper footwear (hiking shoes are recommended)

Web Site: Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

Trail Map: Purgatory Chasm Trail Map


Purgatory Chasm might evoke images of the afterlife or the apocalypse.  But, no, it’s actually in Sutton, MA.

The trail of jagged stones is only .25 miles but they are difficult to cross in some parts and particularly dangerous when you’re carrying a camera.

The Chasm is believed to have originated because of the sudden release of dammed-up glacial meltwater near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago.

Almost as difficult is the incline next to the Chasm with such areas as as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers’ Leap and Fat Man’s Misery.  The inclines are very steep in some areas on this route.  There are areas that have a smoother, less sharp incline (look for the rocks on the right side of the incline for these smoother declines).  I had to take the more steeper inclines and declines, of course.  Some of the views from the ledges are a little scary if you don’t like heights.  Some of the heights are as high as 70 feet in some areas and the rocky terrain below would not make for a very safe landing.

There are several trails you can take after tackling the Chasm.  We took the Charley Loop – an easy, mostly smooth trail with pretty flowers and rocky structures that is just over a mile long.

While walking along the Charley Loop, we found a rock with a strange crystal-like powder on it.

These crystals are Granite Pegmatite which is made up of clusters or clumps of minerals.  They generally contain mica, feldspar, beryl and quartz.

Beyond the chasm there is a pond with frogs, birds, possibly some turtles, flowers, and, of course, rocks.

There is also a large rock with a steep decline that has a slippery surface.  We found some children (and a few adults) sliding down it.

Purgatory Chasm is a great place to bring dogs for a walk (I would avoid taking them on the Chasm trail).  We saw a few dogs during our visit.

Gisele (not Tom’s Gisele, at least I don’t think so) is a 8 year old Yorkie.

Sawyer is a friendly 3 and a half year old Golden Retriever.

Charlie is a rescue dog who was being fostered.  Since he was a rescue, his foster family didn’t know his exact breed or his age.  He was taken in from the Lighthouse Animal Shelter in New Bedford, MA. Hopefully, he has a happy new permanent home now.

Below is a video looking over one of the many edges of the rocky incline next to the Chasm.

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Glacial Potholes & Salmon Falls (Shelburne Falls, MA)

Date Visited: September 6, 2016

Location: Deerfield Ave, Shelburne Falls, MA

Hours: Open everyday, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is off street parking with a 2 hour limit and police do take notice

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: waterfall, glacial potholes, flowers, birds, shops, attractions


The Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes attraction in Shelburne Falls, MA, is a beautiful “two-fer.”  “Three-fer” if we include the bowling alley adjacent to the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes attractions.  IN fact, it is more accurately described as a “many-fer”s there are many attractions and beautiful attractions to the Salmon Falls area.

Although it may be best known for The Bridge Of Flowers (post to come shortly), beauty and grandeur abound Salmon Falls/Glacial Potholes area on Deerfield Ave.

The glacial potholes were ground out of granite during the high water of the Glacial Age.  The whirlpool action of the waves and the gyrating stones created the prominent holes in the stones.  It is said some of the grinding mills can still be seen in the smaller potholes.  Over 50 potholes exist in the confined area known as “Salmon Falls” when the the Native Americans resided here.  The potholes vary in size from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter.  The 39 inch diameter pothole is considered the largest pothole on record.  And you thought the potholes on our roads were bad.


Salmon Falls, as it was dubbed by the Native Americans, was a common area for hunting and fishing.  The waterfall still gives some pretty views against a once industrialized scenery as the backdrop.


What makes the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes area are the small shops and antiquated buildings that give the area a very old fashioned small town feel.  This is true for pretty much the entire community of Shelburne Falls.

There is a bench for sitting, feeding the birds and just taking in the beauty around you.

Almost as a prelude to the much heralded Bridge of Flowers (which is located only a short walk or drive from the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes area), flowers and trees bound the Salmon Falls area.

If you’re lucky you might even find a feathered friend to photograph.


Deerfield Ave, the road that leads to Salmon Falls and the Glacial Potholes, still has the old town feel that adds tot he charm of the area.  In fact, the entire Shelburne Falls area still has many “mom and pop” shops and independent businesses rather than chain stores.  It was nice walking around without being bombarded by convenience stores and restaurant chains that seem to scar so many other towns.

The Shelburne Bowling Alley is one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country.  In operation since 1906 (and yes it is still open for business currently), the Shelburne Bowling Alley could easily be mistaken for a barn or some other structure from a different time.


There is also a variety of art throughout the area.  Some of the art I noticed looked different from the art I have seen in previous visits.  So it appears they do change it up every so often.  The art honors the history of the area and gives information about the area.

Below is a video of the falls at Salmon Falls.  It was an overcast and somewhat windy day when we first arrived at the Falls so you may hear the wind in the video.  But, most of the sound is from the rushing waters of the Falls.

Similar Places In New England I have Visited:


Wadsworth Falls State Park (Middletown, CT)



Cascading Waters (Worcester, MA)


Bash Bish Falls (Mount Washington, MA)

Odiorne Point State Park (Rye, NH)

Date Visited: August 6, 2016

Location: 570 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH 603-436-7406

Hours: Open everyday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (I got there well before 8 and the gates were already open).  Open but unstaffed after 10/11

Cost: $4 for adults $2 for children (ages 6-11), NH residents who are seniors (over 65) or younger than 6 get in free

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the main parking area.  There are additional parking lots along the beach

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 to 2 hours

Trails: Easy

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: abundant wildlife (mostly birds), pretty flowers and trees, lighthouse (Whaleback Light), scenic views, play area for children, “sunken forest”, science center, historical site

Lowlights: Parking can be tough (especially during the summer), since it is considered a beach dogs are not allowed at the park

Odiorne Point State Park Trail Map

Odiorne Point State Park Website


The location of the first English settlement in New Hampshire, Odiorne Point has a very storied past.

Named after the Odiorne family who settled there during the 1660’s, Odiorne Point is probably best known for being a military installation during World War 2.  Known as Fort Dearborn at the time, Odiorne Point was part of the military’s attempt to modernize the U.S. coast defenses.  Part of the military installation served as a radar station by the United States Air Force beginning in 1949, and in 1955 this became the Rye Air Force Station.  None of the Air Force’s installation remains there.  Looking at the historical remnants of the fort it is obvious how far we have come as a military power.  Real shells, a bunker entrance, a battery and other historical structures are scattered throughout the entrance to the park.

The park also has a science center located at the end of one of the main paths where people can learn about nature and the various wildlife that inhabit the park.


The trails at the park were easy to negotiate.  However, if you do go off trail to get a closer view of the surroundings and wildlife you have to be careful and be mindful of the water level.  I will touch on this later in the post.

As you can see from the photos above, the plants and trees at Odiorne are beautiful even if they are directly next to a dumpster.

Only about an hour’s drive north of Boston, Odiorne Point has something for people of all ages to enjoy. There is a play area for children as well as picnic tables and benches for people to sit and eat while they take in all of the beautiful views.

This particular family had a hungry visitor eyeing them as they ate lunch.


The birds are one of the main attractions of the park.  A wide variety of gulls, egrets and other birds frequent the park.

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The views at Odiorne State Park are pretty all year round.  The lighthouse, Whaleback Light, provides a majestic backdrop for any photo.  The weather was very erratic when I made my visit.  It was rainy and raw when I first arrived at the park in the early morning hours.  After waiting out the rain, the clouds gave way to the sun.  Then, the wind picked up and drove the waves against the rocks.  Basically, I experienced just about all the weather New England has in one day.  In other words, it was a typical New England day.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of Odiorne Point State Park is the “sunken forest”.  If you arrive during low tide, you can see what used to be a forest or some other land.  What appears to be tree stumps, rocks and other land based structures appear on the floor of what will rapidly become the bottom of the body of water.

So, during low tide you can easily traverse these rocks (make sure to not try this with sandals on or barefoot) and get closer to the birds, ocean and other rocks.  One important thing to keep in mind is the tide comes in pretty quickly.  I made it out to the rocky area where the birds were all hanging out.  Then, suddenly, I realized just how much water had accumulated around me.  I quickly ran/sloshed through ankle deep water along the pebbles to make it back to land before it got too late.  If I waited half an hour longer I would have been swimming back to shore.  Below are some side side examples of just how quickly the water rises.  The time lapse is only about an hour.

Below are two videos of the waves and scenery at Odiorne Point.

Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:


Colt State Park (Bristol, RI)


Moswetuset Hummock (Quincy, MA)


Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison, CT)

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Balance Rock State Park (Pittsfield, MA)

Date Visited: March 26, 2016

Cost: Free

Location: Balance Rock, Rd, Pittsfield, MA (about 2.5 hours west of Boston, MA or 1 hour east of Albany, NY)

Hours: Sunrise until 6 p.m.

Parking: There is parking for about up to 50 cars or so at the Balance Rock entrance.




During the last ice age, some 12,000 to 100,000 years ago, rocks were haphazardly pushed to and fro, creating this unusual formation. Or, someone put one rock on top of another. Either the product of glacial movement or an elaborate hoax, the namesake of Balance Rock State Park is a huge attraction.

But, before you view the impressive rock, there are rocks and beauty aplenty at the entrance to Balance Rock Park.

By the entrance, there is a stream that runs along the side of the park


After a short drive up the main entrance road (about half a mile), you will reach Balance State Park’s main attraction; the rock.  We were a bit disappointed to find the rock right there next to the parking lot.  While it is convenient and easy for visitors to find, it would have been nice to have to hike to it.  It would have built up the anticipation.  Despite the journey being anticlimactic, the rock was impressive.  As you can tell from the photos and attached video, the rock never touches the ground.  Unfortunately, it has been vandalized which was very disappointing to see.

The rock is 30 feet long and 15 feet wide.  It is resting on another much smaller rock.  This, the story goes, is the product of the last glacial age.  It also goes to show that no matter how big and seemingly powerful someone or something may be, the rock and we wouldn’t be the same without the help of a little friend.

I noticed how some of the rocks seem to have eyes and lips.  I am not sure if this was due to nature, erosion or the work of mankind.



It turns out, there are many rocks in the area

The residents of Balance Rock State Park are very photogenic.  He was shy at first.  But, eventually, he came out and I was able to get some close ups of him.



Video of the stream at the entrance to Balance Rock State Park

Walking tour of the rock

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Cascading Waters (Worcester, MA)

Date Visited: March 19, 2016

Location: 135 Olean St, Worcester, Massachusetts

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are several parking lots at the Greater Worcester Land Trust which the Cascading Waters is part of.  The closest lot to the Cascading Waters is small with only room for about half a dozen cars.  You can also drive up to Cascading Waters via Cataract St and park on the dirt road there.


One of the great things about Worcester (pronounced “Woo-stah”) is its diversity of people and  places.  One moment you could be in the heart of the city and only ten minutes later you could be at a grand waterfall.  It remind me a lot of Boston in this regard.

I found myself at one of the natural wonders of Worcester, Cascading Falls, Saturday.


Located about an hour west of Boston, Cascading Falls is known for its beauty and trails.  There are both hiking and biking trails at the main parking area.  I chose the most direct hiking route to the falls.  The trail is pretty flat and straight with some pretty views.  I also noticed some greenery sprouting on the eve of the first day of Spring.  it’s about half a mile to the Cascading Waters from the parking area.

There is a trail to the right of the falls with a fairly steep incline.  The trail leads to the top of the falls.  You can go to the top of the waters.  The views are pretty sweet.


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There are also interesting rocks, pools of water and streams at the top of Cascading Waters.

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Although the sun was out and the temperatures did increase, it was still relatively cold as this branch shows.

The waterfall leads to a stream just under and behind the trail.

Cascading Waters is a great place to take your dog for a walk.  I met two golden retrievers; Wilson (on the left ) and Tucker, while I was there.


Below are two videos of Cascading Waters from the trail view and view from the top of the falls.

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Agassiz Rock (Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA)

Date visited: February 20, 2016

Hours: open everyday, 8 a.m. to sunset

Location: School St., Manchester-By-The-Sea (it’s easy to miss so keep an eye out for it)

Agassiz Rock

Cost: Free


People travel far and wide to Agassiz Rock (pronounced “A-ga-siz”)to  visit a rock.  Yes, a rock.

Actually, they travel to see rocks.  Lots of them.

Agassiz Rock is a deceiving name.  There are actually two main rock structures that are the highlights of the park creatively named “Big Agassiz” and “Little Agassiz.”

The trail is not difficult.  At least it’s not too bad when there’s not ice and snow on the ground.  There are a few sharp inclines but mostly it is a fairly easy trail.

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Along the trail, there are many eye catching rocks and streams.

The trails are clearly marked and signs point to the two rocks.


Left to “Big Agassiz.”  Stay straight on the trail to get to “Little Agassiz.”  The trail about a 2 mile loop.  So, you can see both rock locations if you take the trail in its entirety which is what I did.

Big Agassiz is only a quarter mile or so from the sign.


Yup, that’s “Big Agassiz” it all its glory.

A trail leads to “Little Agassiz.”  Ironically, the “Little Agassiz” is the better part of the attraction.

Along the way, I had a feeling I wasn’t alone based on the paw prints or hoof prints I saw in the snow.  I quickly made my way up to “Little Agassiz.”

A short hike that includes one of the few inclines leads to the top of the Beaverdam Hill where “Little Agassiz” is.

There are several rock formations, trees and a area to just sit and chill.  If I brought a book I would have been right at home.  I could have stayed all day. But, I was a little disappointed in the views or lack thereof.  There are mountains or other wonders of nature to look at.  You do get a nice view of the roadway, though.  Just a few tips:  it can get pretty  windy up there and if you do go in the morning during the winter be aware the rocks and the surfaces can be slippery.

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You get a pretty good view from on top of the rocks.

I found one more rock formation of notice on my way out.


The parking area for Agassiz Rock is off a busy roadway and while I didn’t have any problems finding a spot I think it would be a little tough during the summer.  There is probably room for a dozen or so cars if people park normally.


Below is a video of Little Agassiz.

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Northwood Meadows State Park (Northwood, NH)

From the outside Northwood Meadows State Park doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary.


A pond, a creek, pretty trees and a few unusual rock formations are on the main trail.

But, it’s the meadow that sets the place apart from other parks.


Of course, after a few minutes, it began to snow.



Then, just like any typical New England day, it stopped and the sun was out after 5 minutes of driving snow.




There are some beautiful views of the meadow.

Northwood Meadows is also a popular spot for dog walking.   You may notice some of the dogs are wearing orange.  That is because hunting is allowed in some designated areas of the park.

The photos don’t do it justice, though.  Northwood Meadows is a must see for dogs and humans!

Whitney And Thayer Woods (Cohasset, MA)

The unseasonably mild weather (at least mild for New England) has allowed for a longer than usual fall hiking season.  Taking advantage of this unusually warm weather, I traveled to the South Shore jewel of Whitney And Thayer Woods in Cohasset, MA.


With the exception of a stray cloud here and there, a clear blue sky, bright sun and an intermittent breeze greeted me at the woods.

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The park is a loop that covers a few miles.  There is a bike trail and runners frequent the trails.


Although the peak of the fall foliage season has passed, there were still some vibrant orange, gold and amber colors hanging on to the trees.

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A rolling stone gathers no…never mind.


There were quite a few dogs on the paths.  It was a perfect day for dog walking.  I have determined that getting most dogs to pose for the camera is about as easy as splitting the atom.

Lilly enjoyed the warm sun.


Chester was very excited to be at the park.


Olive was happy to see me.  Don’t worry.  She was a sweetheart.


I didn’t get this dog’s name.  But he or she posed perfectly!


I have more shots from my trip to Whitney And Thayer.  So, I am breaking up this blog into two parts.  The second part will include some photos from the Weir River Farm located just outside of the wooded area.  For a sneak peak and for some additional photos not included in this blog, stop by my Facebook page: New England Nomad

Check out my other blog, Mr. Wayne please.  Thank you.

Mystery Hill – a.k.a. “America’s Stonehenge” (Salem, NH)

From the moment you drive into the parking lot of Mystery Hill, (a.k.a “America’s Stonehenge”) in Salem, New Hampshire,(the other Salem in the New England region) you know it’s a special place.


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There are strange rock formations and….

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…a bridge in the front entrance welcomes you from the past.


and brings you to the future



But, the front entrance of America’s Stonehenge is only a tease.  Once you exit the gift shop (it costs $12 for adults and $7.50 for kids), you are greeted by some Alpacas on the right.  They are fenced but they are very friendly.



There are also a variety of time keeping devices which, to this day, still keep correct time.

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But, some of the things I liked best were not the structures or rock formations but the statues, flowers, decor and the hollowed out canoe.

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But, the main attraction are the rocks and rock formations.  The name “America’s Stonehenge” is somewhat misleading. There are no structures that bear any real resemblance to the actual Stonehenge.

Even though Mystery Hill bears no resemblance to Stonehenge, there are some interesting facts about the site.  Some of the rocks used in the structures at Mystery Hill were quarried using primitive stone-on-stone techniques and have been carbon dated as far back as 2,000 B.C.

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Mystery Hill is a children’s play land.  Forget about all of the rock climbing.  They are also able to walk in some of the structures, such as, the Oracle Chamber and they wouldn’t have to duck to be able to walk in the smaller spaces.

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There is a sinister legend that overshadows the light atmosphere of the attraction.  According to legend, the area here was a spot for sacrifices.  Stories of ghostly apparitions and huantings have been reported.  I decided to go and see for myself.


I didn’t see or hear anything unusual, at least not of the other worldly variety.  But, the legends still persist.

The area is pretty expansive.  It claims to be 30 acres but feels much longer.  The best parts of the area were the random rock structures and the views.  And, of course, the foliage.



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There is also an area where it is believed the Nov. 1st sunrise was watched from.  It is amazing when you consider they could identifty the best place to view the sunrise, way before we had scientific devices to use.



Although the rocks and rock formations were impressive, my favorite part of the attraction was the alpacas.