|Little River Gorge
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Little River Gorge, Massachusetts Report
At the intersection of US Rts. 20 and Mass. 23 in Woronoco, Mass, go West on Rt. 23 for 1.8 mi. Go left on General Knox Rd. for 1.2 mi. Go right on So. Quarter Rd. for 1.1 mi. Go left into the prominent AMC entrance. Follow to the end; if the gate is closed, park left or right, walking straight ahead.
FIVE FULL MOONS. Little River Gorge is without peer.
LITTLE RIVER GORGE, APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB LODGE & TRAIL SYSTEM: THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR THE FAINT OF HEART OR THOSE UNABLE TO NEGOTIATE VERY STEEP ROCKS AND TERRAIN. REPEAT, NOT! DON'T GO, IF INCAPABLE!
Little River Gorge ranks with the best of the best, ideal for camping wildernuders. Its location is the key--several panoramas, including famous Noble View up to 800 feet deep, off a dead end dirt road adjacent to an Appalachian Mountain Club Lodge and trails, and smack dab in the middle of huge tracts of adjoining private and public land. For ten years as a youngster, Bill swam nude in The Gorge (not to be confused with Granville Gorge a few miles Southwest) with same sex groups of Boy Scouts and YMCA Day Camp members. As an adult, living about a half hour walk away, he spent many quiet hours there in idyllic social nudity with women house mates who'd become Naturists after experiencing the healthy choice with him.
Little River Gorge is one incomparable place for many reasons. The water is the cleanest we've ever seen in Massachusetts, more Vermont-like in clarity, and for good reason--there are no industries or residential buildings for many miles and thousands of acres upstream where most of the land is owned by The Springfield Water Works; Little River is the outflow from Cobble Mountain Reservoir, the main supply for Springfield, the City of Homes.
With no close second we know of, it's the deepest, longest gorge in the state, virtually unknown, save to club members and a few old time locals. Beginning in Blandford, Little River drops 800 feet for more than ten miles, crooked as a snake, with many pools of various sizes along the way, including some glacial potholes in the upper reaches, known as `Pot Rocks' or `Indian Kettles'. The very crookedness of The Gorge makes Mother Sol's window available at any time of day; if in the shade, all one needs to do is go around the next corner.
Depending on rainfall and Springfield water usage, Little River's flow varies from near nil to a raging torrent at any time of year. Frightening to some, this makes The Gorge (again, NOT TO BE CONFUSED with Granville Gorge to the Southwest) all the more interesting. Near the top is a non-polluting hydroelectric plant which greatly affects water flow, usually on very hot, humid summer days, but also at ANY other (very rare) time. On no schedule/without notice, water is released into The Gorge, beginning as the sound of distant, constant thunder, becoming ever louder. Then a small ripple comes down river followed by RAPIDLY RISING WATER! The water can rise as much as four feet in less than fifteen minutes. REMEMBER THAT. And, it'sCOLD, about 60 degrees.
If one is in The Gorge when this happens, it's no cause for alarm. At the first sound of the thunder, merely remove oneself and gear to the SAME side of the river one came in on and go higher than the obvious high water mark. The torrent lasts anywhere from an hour or so to six hours maximum, though longer flows (ever more rarely) do occur. Hardy swimmers look forward to the high water because it's exceptionally challenging and invigorating.
Camping spots abound virtually anywhere within this 36 square mile pocket wilderness; though small, it's total wilderness. On AMC grounds, trail maps are available at the kiosk or from members. Spring, Link, Laurel, Ski, and County Road Trails all lead into or along the crest of The Gorge.
In Hot Water,
Camilla & Bill
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