Tips for Hiking to Bash Bish Falls

Bash Bish Falls are the tallest waterfall in Massachusetts, and a wonderful place to visit in the Berkshires. Located in the southwest corner of the state, right by the New York border, Bash Bish Falls is a fun place for a moderate hike on a Berkshires weekend getaway.

First of all, make sure you’re saying it right! You may have the urge to call it Bish Bash Falls (that’s what all those “splish splash I was taking a bath” commercials will do for you) — but it’s Bash Bish Falls.

This is one of the nicest hikes in the Berkshires, and if you hike from the New York side, it’s an easy, low-key hike for kids or novice hikers. The walk eventually leads you to thundering Bash Bish Falls, whose parallel streams fall into a glassy green pool.

We love this hike and think it’s one of the best things to do in the Berkshires. Let’s take a look at Bash Bish!

Note — in mid-2022 the stairs to the base of the falls were closed for safety reasons. We hope to see them open again by the time summer arrives in 2023. It’s still worth doing the hike without going down the final staircase; you can still enjoy the view.

A waterfall with two streams emptying into a pool, surrounded by forest.

Bash Bish Falls FAQ

Is it better to hike Bash Bish Falls from Massachusetts or New York?

We recommend hiking from the New York side, which is a slightly longer hike but not nearly as steep.

How long is the hike to Bash Bish Falls?

The hike to Bash Bish Falls is one mile round-trip from the Massachusetts side and 1.5 miles round trip from New York side.

Can you swim in Bash Bish Falls?

No, swimming is not permitted in Bash Bish Falls or any of the surrounding pools.

How tall is Bash Bish Falls?

At 60 feet (18 meters), Bash Bish Falls is the highest waterfall in Massachusetts.

The sign outside the parking lot on the New York side.

How to Get to Bash Bish Falls

There are two different hiking trails that arrive at Bash Bish Falls — you can visit from Bash Bish Falls State Park on the Massachusetts side or Taconic State Park in New York State. The Massachusetts side is closer, but a much steeper and more difficult hike.

Overall, while we know people who have enjoyed both sides, we recommend hiking from the New York side, which is an easy hike and not too long.

In either case, we highly recommend joining AllTrails, which gives you access to hiking maps to just about anywhere.

Hiking from the Massachusetts Side

To hike to Bash Bish Falls from the MA side, you’ll start by driving to “Bash Bish Falls State Park” on Google Maps, on Falls Road in the town of Mount Washington, Mass. Once you reach the Massachusetts parking lot, look for the sign reading “scenic view” in the back of the parking lot. This is where the Bash Bish Falls Trail starts.

It is a one mile hike from here, round-trip, but very steep in parts.

Start by hiking upward, where you’ll have spectacular views into Bash Bish Gorge. From here, keep following the blue blazes on the trees until you reach the falls.

However, there is a descent of about 300 feet along rocks. It’s like a rocky staircase, and you’ll have to climb straight upward on the way out!

If you’re a seasoned hiker, you probably won’t have an issue with it, but we don’t recommend this for young kids, less experienced hikers, or anyone with mobility challenges. Just keep that in mind.

Hiking from the New York Side

To hike to Bash Bish Falls from the NY side, you’ll start by driving to “Bash Bish Falls NY Parking Lot” on Google Maps. This will take you directly to the parking lot in the town of Copake Falls, New York.

At the trailhead you’ll find parking spaces, a kiosk with a trail map and information, and a porta-pottie (in high season). From there you can set off along Bash Bish Brook, following the water as you slowly head uphill.

The hike is 1.5 miles round-trip, or 0.75 miles each way. And a big difference from hiking from the MA side is that it’s a gentle uphill slope until you get to the magnificent scenic view of the falls.

If you’re traveling with small children, you’ll be glad you chose the New York side!

A rocky staircase leading upward on a hiking trail.

Reaching the Falls

Once the sound of rushing water becomes thundering, you’ll be there! There is a stunning view from the viewing platform at the top, and this is a wonderful place to simply take in the beauty of the falls.

Downward, you can take a staircase to the bottom of the falls, where they thunder into a large pool. It’s a great place to see the falls close up — in fact, as close as you can get. (NOTE: this staircase has been closed since mid-2022 and we hope it opens again for the 2023 season).

The waterfall leads to a chain of falls leading down Bash Bish Brook, along with a handful of small ponds. Don’t stop at the main falls! They’re much smaller, but nice to see too.

There is a popular legend often told about Bash Bish Falls. We’re not sure whether it’s true or something that caught on — and frankly, few official sources mention it — but we’re going to share it anyway.

In this story, Bash Bish was a Native American women, likely of the Mohican nation, was accused of adultery by a jealous friend. She was tied to a canoe and thrown over the top of the falls, falling to her death.

Bash Bish was a mother, and her daughter, White Swan, was raised by the tribe after her death. When White Swan became a young woman, she and her husband were having trouble conceiving. Her husband, who needed an heir, took a second wife.

White Swan would visit the top of the falls to hear her mother’s voice. Eventually, she heard her mother calling to her to join her, and threw herself over the falls.

A sign reading "New York - Mass border" on a hiking trail.
The state line between NYS and Mass, leading into Bash Bish Falls park, via Shutterstock.

Tips and Information for Bash Bish Falls State Park

Take your time to appreciate the beauty of the waterfall — but keep in mind that these falls can be dangerous. There’s a reason why nobody is allowed at the top of the waterfall. People have died here.

Swimming is not permitted at Bash Bish Falls, and that’s for good reason. Fishing is permitted, though, for those with a Massachusetts fishing permit.

Unfortunately, picnicking is not permitted either — but we won’t tell if you enjoy a protein bar on one of the rocks!

However — pets are allowed here, and must remain on-leash.

Twin waterfalls surrounded by bright gold and green leaves.
Fall is glorious at Bash Bish — via DepositPhotos.

Best Time to Visit Bash Bish Falls

Hiking in the Berkshires is at its peak during the summer months, when people come from all over the northeast to explore this gorgeous region. Summer also brings a lot of family travel, and you’re likely to run into kids of all ages on the trail.

The fall months are a particularly nice time to visit the Berkshires. You can expect peak foliage here in mid-October, the reds and yellows adding gorgeous streaks of color to the landscapes.

Spring is an underrated time to visit the falls! Spring is when the falls are at their most flush, especially early spring, and you get to enjoy the newly flowering plant life and delicious smells in the air.

Can you visit Bash Bish Falls in winter? Sure. Plenty of people do. But it’s imperative that you’re experienced at winter hiking and have the right equipment. You’ll want to wear spikes to deal with the ice.

A city street with red brick buildings and a crosswalk painted like a rainbow.

Where to Visit After Bash Bish Falls

We highly recommend hiking to Bash Bish Falls in the morning, then heading to Great Barrington for lunch. Great Barrington is one of our favorite towns in Western Massachusetts, often nicknamed “the Brooklyn of the Berkshires.”

In Great Barrington you can explore the fun downtown, stroll the River Walk along the Housatonic River, eat at one of the many excellent restaurants, shop in its many fun boutiques, or even continue the hiking and head up Monument Mountain!

There’s so much to explore in Berkshire County, one of the loveliest parts of New England, and we hope Bash Bish Falls is one of the places you visit!

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Have you been to Bash Bish Falls? Share your tips!

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