Friday, August 1, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Part 2: Natural Bridge State Park

On Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend (yes, this post is grossly over due) we went to the Natural Bridge State Park in North Adams, MA. It's a 48-acre park that apparently Nathaniel Hawthorne spent some time in during the 1830's. It was a quarry for many years and a privately owned tourist attraction that only became a state park in 1985 The entrance is only a short distance from Clarksburg where we camped and very close to the hairpin turn on Rt. 2.

We arrived on a lovely sunny morning. On the drive in we passed a meadow in front of the marble cliffs. 

We quickly found the parking lot and the visitor center after a short twisty road. We paid our two dollar parking fee and unloaded dog and child. The trail was easy to find and well traveled.
Visitor Center
We walked down the path towards the outcropping of rocks. There were metal bridges and railings that contained the people from falling down. After crossing the dome, I could look down into the cliffs from a new angle.   


The ledge that we were standing on had lots of carved "graffiti" in the stone. Some of it was worn away but some was still legible. Big Dude and I switched off the dog leash so that I could go down the stairway to see the bridge.

I'm always in awe of how water carves and smooths stone. The colors under the bridge were greens and blues and browns. It was cool, as expected, due to the stream running through the rocks. I wandered dog free to explore the staging that was set up. There were still remains from the quarrying suspended over the water.

Then I snagged the dog leash and wandered over the un-natural bridge to find some of our friends. 


We watched a dog chasing a decoy for quite a while. "Annie" was a well trained dog who truly seemed to enjoy this game of fetch. She dashed into the stream over and over again, eager to find the decoy. While watching, Mel recognized a gentleman from a show that she, Big Dude and I had attended in the spring. He was a musician that played during the taping of "Says You" at Regis College. Have to say, she has a pretty good memory for faces. After watching Annie's antics for a bit, we crossed back over to the other side of the stream and a few of us had snacks at picnic tables near the banks of the stream. The kids ran around some and then we went back towards our cars. 

On the way, I spotted this marker near the visitor center. It's not that big only about a foot wide but it clearly gave the coordinates for where we were. 

We enjoyed our quick trip to the Natural Bridge. I've been to a few others (some that have collapsed even). While this one is not as impressive as the large ones that people can cross spanning oceans, the power of the water on stone is still amazing. I definitely would recommend it as a stop if you are out in the North Adams region.

Where:  Natural Bridge State ParkMcCauley Road, off Rte. 8, North Adams, MA 01247

From East or West/Rte. 2: Take MA Rte. 2 to North Adams and intersection with MA Rte. 8 north. Turn onto Rte. 8 north and continue for 0.5 miles to McCauley Road and park entrance on the left. Follow the dirt road; it soon becomes paved.

From North: From VT Rte. 8/100 at the Massachusetts-Vermont line, follow MA Rte. 8 south for 3 miles. Turn right on McCauley Road and park entrance. Follow the dirt road; it soon becomes paved.

From South/MassPike (I-90): Take Exit 2 in Lee and follow US Rte. 20 west to US Rte. 7 north to Williamstown for 31.7 miles. Take MA Rte. 2 east for 6.2 miles, through downtown North Adams to MA Rte. 8. Turn left onto Rte. 8 north and follow for 0.5 miles. Turn left onto McCauley Road and park entrance. Follow the dirt road; it soon becomes paved.

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