Gardens of Fun. Beauty and Adventure all in One!

Heritage Gardens Sign

Flower garden at the parking areaThe Heritage Museums and Gardens

Where can you have a fun day surrounded by flowers and gardens and even have an adventure? Located on Upper cape Cod in the little town of Sandwich , Ma you can find a gem of a Museum. The Heritage Museums and Gardens don’t stop with just flowers. There are  exhibits, a carousel, antique cars and even a Zip line. Truly something for everyone.

Checking out the Little Museum and Grounds

I had perfect weather for a little outdoor exploration. I was looking for something new to me that wouldn’t require a 3 hour drive. Sandwich, MA is just about 40 minutes from my home…as long as you avoid the Cape Cod Traffic. For the 2nd time in 2 weeks I headed south on Rt 495 and the Bourne Bridge. Once I crossed the bridge it was just a short drive to RT 130 where I spotted the signs for Heritage Museum and Gardens. As I pulled in I was pleased to see there was parking available. Quite a few people were strolling around following a path down a hill. I bought my ticket for the gardens which included the Museums and started up another paved path.

Windmill gardensFlowers, Nature and a Windmill

Flowers lined the path providing a riot of color and lots of photo ops. There are a series of buildings that I didn’t explore this trip. One building houses the antique car collection. Another holds an art collection. There’s a cafe that seemed to be doing a brisk business. As I wandered along I heard falling water. I looked around and spotted a man-made waterfall peeking through the trees. I wasn’t sure how to get to it but figured I’d find it eventually.Wind Mill First I wanted to check out the  windmill. Daylillies ring the lawn area around the Windmill while a gorgeous garden blooms near the entrance to the space. Benches are placed strategically around the grounds.




Lilly Pond and falling water

I left the Windmill Garden and started down the hill. I briefly considered that I’d have to walk back up it The Man made waterfalllater but I was too interested in seeing the next garden to worry about the return trip. The next Garden was at the bottom of the hill. A large expanse of green lawn gently sloped up to the waterfall I’d seen earlier. The water was falling into a circular pond loaded with Lilly pads. The lawn was surrounded by more daylillies.  I could imagine this as a wonderful wedding venue. Here too benches were set around the pond so you could sit quietly and enjoy the gentle sounds of falling water.

Flowering Lilly pads

Over Hill and Dale and Mountian

Over Hill and Dale

I sat in my SUV peering down this very steep, very long hill to Angel Falls.  Even if I made it down unscathed I still have to get back up the hill. I was beginning to regret only getting front wheel drive. This looked like a four wheel hill for sure! How do I get myself into these situations?

Decision made

I backed up next to the car on the shoulder to contemplate my next move. While I was mulling things over a group of hikers came up the hill. They belonged to the car next to me. One of the group assured me the hill wasn’t as bad as it looked. He patted my car and said I’d have no trouble with an SUV like mine. He added that I would have to cross the brook 3 times to get to the falls but not to worry, it was only a trickle. Hmmm a warning to the “old lady” or just friendly chit chat? I made my decision, I’d drive the hill.

The Old Gravel PitStone Scenic Geology Rock Nature Large Boulder

That guy was right. Once I got started the hill was a piece of cake. At the bottom was an old gravel pit. A huge stone covered with graffiti was another landmark on my directions. This was where we could park. The trail to the falls was about 1000 ft up a logging road and marked with red blazes. My directions said nothing about the distance from here to the falls but I was more concerned with the “rock hopping” to cross the stream.

The Hike

Berdeen Stream crossing on the way to Angel Falls MaineI started off pretty good. Everyday of vacation my hip had been getting stronger. I was pleased to note that as I started out I didn’t even have a twinge. Not too far along I came to the first brook. Berdeen Stream was slow and shallow. I figured if I fell off the rocks I’d just get my feet wet, no major disaster, but I made it. I was using 2 trekking poles for stability and had my camera in a backpack. After the crossing the trail began to climb. Lots of rocks and tree roots.

Brook Number TwoMountain Brook

As I huffed and puffed my way up the trail I noticed the sun disappeared. Right after that it started to rain. I made sure my gear was protected and continued on. The climb was getting steeper. I was ok until I hit the rocks. I might have been ok if it wasn’t raining but wet rocks are slippery rocks. This was the bank of Mountain Brook, the next stream I had to cross. This was not a shallow, sleepy little brook. This one was running pretty fast and was probably 3 feet deep.

Sometimes its better to walk away

Angel Falls a waterfall in Maine

Better to stop now than to break a leg on slippery rocks. I was alone. No one else was on the trail. I guess you could say I got cold feet. If I ever win the lottery I’ll have a helicopter airlift me in. Or maybe I’ll just hope I keep healing so I can try again another day. Oh and guess what. After I got back to the parking area, the rain stopped and the sun came out. Go figure. No Falls no Moose, what a day!

Here Moosey, Moosey, Moose

Here Moosey, Moosey, Moose

Moose warning signMoose are active morning and late afternoon and according to the locals from noon to 2 pm as well. I set my camera ISO to 800, lowered my F stop and reduced my shutter speed to compensate for the low light. With a feeling of expectation I headed out to drive route 17, a so called Moose hot spot.

It should be so easy

The handout about the roads and moose warned that Moose like to use the highway to travel. Moose crossing the roadThey seem to think it’s their own private way. I was surprised that the speed limit most of the way was 50 miles per hour. No wonder this is a “High Hit Area”. Who can stop fast at that speed? I trundled along at about 35-40 miles per hour pulling over to let the locals pass when I saw them barreling down on me. If you come for a visit do not expect the locals to obey the speed limits. They pass on double lines, drive 75-80 in a 50 mph zone and tail gate. Scary stuff.

Trees, woods and overlooks

The drive is a two lane road for the most part. Occasionally it splits to 4 lanes but it also shrinks going over bridges. I saw two beautiful overlooks that I will need to return to for pictures. When I stopped the sun was right in my eyes. When I came back it was just past sunset so I missed that too.

Coos CanyonCoos Canyon waterfall

The trip from Rangeley to Rumford is 36 miles. I didn’t have that much daylight left but I was determined to make the full drive before I turned back. Along the way I spotted a rest area with a picnic table and a chain link fence. Curious I stopped to take a look. A lovely cascade spilled down between high rock walls. The fence was there to keep silly people from getting too close to the edge. Having left my hat in the car I had to beat back the black flies while trying to photograph the gorge.


Mexico Maine

sombrero with mustascheI didn’t get to Rumford. When I reached Mexico, Maine I was two miles away but it was too dark for moose then, at least for my purposes. I thought of my sister as she kept talking about Mexico, Maine while I was planning this visit. Well Sis, found it. Wish you were here.  In the end I made the drive and got nothing for it, not a moose, not a deer, not even a mouse. Tomorrow is another day.

And Now The End is Near- Bash Bish Falls

And so the Hike begins

I started down the well groomed trail. I was looking forward to the falls. Bash Bish Brook was running pretty fast along side the trail.  Its a pretty walk but it wasn’t long before I realized that my definition of flat and the rest of the world seemed to be quite different. There was a subtle but definite incline. It didn’t seem to be getting any smaller. The farther I went the more the trail climbed.

At the beginning

At first the brook was quite close to the trail. I could imagine setting up the tripod in the middle of the brook and taking pictures from that angle. A few time I ventured off the trail to explore the edge of the brook. At one point I found a swam of yellow and black butterflies. They looked like tiger swallow tails but I couldn’t see and “tails” on any of them.

Onward and upward

The longer I trudged along the deeper the gorge got and soon I was looking through tree branches to see the brook. At one point I heard voices and laughing. Some folks more agile and fit than I had managed to get down the steep slope and were swimming in the stream. Early on there were benches where you could stop to rest but as the trail took a steeper climb the benches gave way to natural boulders. Its only 3/4 mile but it felt much longer. I was working up a sweat in spite of the breeze off the brook and shade of the forest. On my next break I doused myself liberally with bug spray. No mosquitoes but lots of little black flies and stinging horse flies.

The Mass-NY State Line

Finally I saw the State line marker. I was told once I passed that I would almost be there. That was the boost I needed. Apparently others felt the same way because as I stood there several other groups  came by and all stopped to take selfies with the sign. Its a mile marker of sorts.

Sure enough, It wasn’t much further when I saw the trail widen out. A picnic table was positioned off to one side. Then I saw a couple of young women run out of another trail. It was the 1/4 mile long trail from the Massachusetts parking lot. They told me they were very concerned about the return hike.

Bash Bish Falls.

In the same wide open area there was an observation platform. You got a good look at the falls there. But there was still one more place to check out.

The Bottom of the Falls

A series of stone steps led down to the base of the falls. Families were sitting on the rocks, some having a picnic lunch, others taking photos with their cell phone. After a bit of hesitation I made my way down the uneven stairs. I wish I’d had more time to enjoy the falls but too soon it was time to start working my way back. The biggest obstacle was the long stone staircase. But slow and steady finally got me back on top.

It was just about 2 pm by the time I got back to the parking lot. I needed to get going if I was going to have a chance to visit my mom, the main purpose of this trip!

One Waterfall Down Eight to Go!

One Down and Eight to go

Saturday afternoon the sun came out and I ran for the car. I had several different options but would only have time for one. A drive to Royalston MA to visit Doane’s Falls was the winner. There are 9 waterfalls on the Ultimate Massachusetts Waterfall Road trip. Doane’s Falls was my number one choice. It was close (2 hours). A doable afternoon trip.

What Waterfalls are on the list?

  1. Doane’s Falls, Royalston, MA
  2. The Cascade, North Adams Ma
  3. Wahconah Falls, Dalton, MA
  4. March Cataract Falls, Williamstown, MA
  5. Bash Bish Falls, Mt Washington State Park, MA
  6. Race Brook Falls, Sheffield, MA
  7. Umpachene Falls, New Marlborough, MA
  8. Campbell Falls, New Marlborough, MA
  9. Glendale Falls, Middlefield, MA

Stone Bridge and Waterfall

I found the Falls with little trouble. The roads are paved and easy to navigate. No need for off-roading or mudding  here. There is limited parking but if you can park in the little lot the Falls start right there. The water spills out of the culvert under a lovely stone bridge. You probably just drove over the bridge to get to the parking lot.

You can hear the falls before you see them. Just a few steps onto the trail and you can see the racing water poring out of the culvert. When I walked back to the road and looked on the other side of the bridge the brook was quite calm. It’s an amazing contrast.

Doane’s Falls Recap

The drive to Doane’s Falls was pretty easy. I only made one wrong turn and that was quickly corrected. Once on the right road the falls themselves are clearly marked. It’s warming up ans the flying, biting  critters are starting to come out. I hadn’t thought of that. Next trip to a waterfall will mean bug spray (extra strength), a hat, and snacks. Fast food  and lunch places are few and far between  once you leave Framingham behind.

I didn’t get all  the way to the bottom of the trail. I think there are more falls and rapids further down but the giant mosquitoes drove me back. This will be really pretty in the fall. With a little less water and the colored leaves. I definitely need to plan a return trip.