No Soup for Connecticut
Campbell Falls, mumble-Massachusetts-mumble
April 3, 2010
*ALERT* *ALERT* *ALERT*
“What alert?” you ask? Oh come on, I never make things so easy. The Alert (will) also appear on the Southwick Jog, Pennamite War, Plum Island and Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubuna-gungamaugg pages.
Therrrrre you go! It’s the “Not in Connecticut Alert!” All deserve CTMQ recognition for slightly different reasons – Southwick, MA should be Northwick, CT, Plum Island is part of New York but is 100% Connecticut otherwise, the Pennamite War was fought in north central Pennsylvania on land that was part of colonial Connecticut which we refused to let go of officially until the 19th century and that lake, well, it borders CT and has a rather crazy name. Good enough for me.
Which is very similar to the Campbell Falls situation. Sort of.
Campbell Falls State Park in Norfolk, CT is the most northern state park in Connecticut. It’s also one of the most southern state parks in Massachusetts. Huh? Yup, Check this out: Campbell Falls State Park Reserve was a gift to the State of Connecticut and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the White Memorial Foundation of Litchfield Connecticut. The park was placed under protection of the two states in 1923 and special laws were passed in 1924 to authorize the cooperation in care and maintenance of the park. (The two parks are actually not congruous, which is sort of weird.)
That’s cute – the two states not fighting over something for once. And let’s hear it for the White Foundation as this is the umpteenth beautiful undeveloped area in northwest Connecticut that they donated to the state. I had no idea just how much property they owned, but if it’s in Litchfield County and is a park, it’s safe to say it was probably donated by the Whites. Amazing.
Once in Norfolk, we headed north along route 272 which is one of those old tarmac roads – want to learn something random to impress your friends? You’ve heard of “Macadam” roads before, right? But if you’re like me, you didn’t connect the dots between “tar” and “Mac”adam road surfaces. Now you know – anyway, Route 272 is a hilly old road to Massachusetts.
On the way north, look to your left and get some nice views of Mounts Race and Everett (both in MA).
A lot of the park/hiking information is from BerkshireHiking.com.
You have two choices as far as hiking in to see the falls. One option is to turn left onto Spaulding Road off of Route 272 heading north. 1) Technically, it’s the official park entrance and parking area for Campbell. 2) It’s a longer hike than the Campbell Falls Road entrance and the hike is very peaceful and serene as you first enter a classic hardwood forest, creating a nice canopy creating a world of its own. It’s quiet in here and the only sounds you should hear are running waters and birds chirping. (Bard owls like tall, dark pine forest like this so look up once in a while and perhaps you’ll spot one of these elusive animals.) The trail eventually starts to dip down and will take you over to the falls. It’s an easy hike for most and the yellow trail markers make it a piece of cake to follow along. It shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes each way. It’s a perfect respite from the car after driving a long way and I think the Campbell Falls Road hike would just be too short for most folks and doesn’t do the park justice.
That sounds great… except we didn’t do that. Remember, Damian may be four but due to his Smith-Magenis Syndrome, I can’t ever depend on him walking very far over rocks and roots. Plus, we had a long day ahead of us (elsewhere), and I didn’t want to wipe him out off the bat. So we took the easier option.
We took the left turn off of Route 272 and onto Campbell Falls Road which is a mere 5 feet across the Massachusetts border. This is not a road you want to drive when it’s icy or snowy, as it’s fairly steep and skinny as it heads down the ravine. A short distance down this road is a dirt cutout that allows for a handful of parking slots. It’s pretty rough, but I had no issues in a Jetta, so you’ll be fine.
The excitement starts before you even park though. Halfway down the hill, you pass a stone state line obelisk. I love these things – so stately… And now we were back in the comfortable confines of Connecticut. I wouldn’t want to leave my car parked in stinkin’ ol’ Massachusetts.
Damian and I walked down the fairly steep hill, with the roar of the falls growing ever closer. The “hike” is less than 2/10ths of a mile, but sadly, at the .17 mile mark (give or take a hundredth of a mile), we passed another border marker, bringing us back over into Massachusetts.
Which mean, yes, the actual waterfall is about 100 feet over the border and in the Bay State. The Whiting River, rising in Massachusetts falls nearly 100 feet before entering Connecticut. The Whiting River literally rushes out of the state of Massachusetts and tumbles into Connecticut; smart water! If the falls were in my state, they would definitely be in my top three Connecticut falls. Alas, they are not – but they are close enough to include on CTMQ. And besides, you can see them from Connecticut. It’s just like how you can enjoy the Horseshoe Falls part of Niagara Falls from New York, when 75% of the falls are in Canada. Yeah, just like that. (Did you know they stopped the flow over Niagara Falls in 1969? Check it out.)
A total of 100 feet of water cascades down but the main waterfall is probably in the 50 foot range. This main waterfall section is quite a site to behold when its gushing hard. It’s powerful and majestic – you can really feel the power of the water when you’re there on a good day. Mist splashes every where it’s loud.
Too loud for Damian, it turns out. Granted, the area just suffered some epic rains about a week prior, so the falls were particularly loud during our visit. Damian wouldn’t let me put him down, even though he really enjoyed watching the waterfall. They mysteries of my child….
It was no mystery, however, why he wanted me to carry him back up the hill to the car. Punk.