| Chris Maza
Editor’s note: This series focuses on local hiking and nature trails visited by the author with his wife, 2-year-old daughter and the family dog to showcase outdoor excursions that are family-friendly and/or comfortable options for someone who identifies as a novice hiker.
Hikes with the payoff of a great view are always nice, but hikes with a waterfall, those are the cream of the crop as far as the Maza family is concerned.
Sanderson Brook Falls is what you’d call an easy, accessible hike with a view that, honestly, you’ll feel you should have had to work harder to get.
As part of the Chester-Blandford State Forest, the trailhead is right off of Route 20 in Chester, easily identified by signage and has a small, but clear and serviceable parking area.
The trail itself is essentially an unpaved road. It is wide and well-trafficked, making it ideal for groups, and the ascent is plenty manageable for most ages or for those carrying toddlers on their backs. Following along and occasionally going over Sanderson Brook, the trail offers some really picturesque views on the way to the falls. While the main trail continues upward, after approximately one mile, a small trail, marked with a sign, veers off, taking you to the falls.
The series of cascade falls is a perfect spot for pictures, a picnic lunch, or a quick dip for the kids or a pup in the pools formed at the base. Measuring about 60 feet high, one of the unique features about these particular falls is the placement of a large rock that causes the water plunging down to shoot back up in the air.
For those looking for a longer hike, the main trail continues on, crossing from Chester into Blandford and connecting with other trails in the forest’s system. A downloadable trail map can be found at https://www.mass.gov/doc/chester-blandford-state-forest-trail-map/download.
All told, given the hike’s length, degree of difficulty, payoff, and the fact that it is free to access, Sanderson Brook Falls is an ideal spot for a family adventure. That fact, however, is not lost on many in the area, so the trail does become very popular as the day goes on. For the Mazas, a trip to Sanderson Brook Falls usually involves a mid-morning start, an early lunch and a return back to the car before the crowds start to build.
The Sanderson Brook Falls Trail, like the rest of the Chester-Blandford State Forest, is open from sunrise to sunset. For more information on the park and trail, visit https://www.mass.gov/locations/chester-blandford-state-forest.