The Deadly Reason This New England State's Most Underrated Destination Has Limited Access

There is a lovely spot that borders New York and Massachusetts called Bash Bish Falls State Park. (If you're tempted to say "Bish Bash" instead of "Bash Bish," you're not alone.) It's an underrated outdoor spot about 25 minutes southwest of Great Barrington and has an incredible feature. Inside the park sits the famous Bash Bish Falls, a single-drop cascade that is 80 feet high, making it the highest in Massachusetts. Bash Bish might also be one of the most dangerous waterfalls in the U.S., but we'll get into that briefly.

Since there is no way you're not wondering about the name, here's the legend. A woman named Bash Bish of the Mohican tribe of Native Americans was accused of cheating on her husband. It was said that she was tied to a canoe and pushed over the falls. However, as she fell, a ring of butterflies haloed over her head. Her body was never found. The falls are said to be haunted, though we'll leave that up to you. 

While you can hike to the waterfall, you can no longer swim at the bottom. There are a number of reasons for that, but one major one is deadly. Here's what you need to know about Bash Bish Falls, what you can and cannot do, and the tragic reason the pool at the bottom of the falls is closed. 

What you need to know about Bash Bish Falls

Bash Bish Falls is magnificent, and the park is definitely worth a visit. The hike to the top of the falls is still open, and you can come in from the Massachusetts side, which will take you up and back in a 1-mile long loop. If you go from the New York side, it's a little longer, a 1.5-mile round trip, but it's not as steep if that's a concern for you. Another reason for taking the journey from the New York side is that there has been far more parking since the waterfall's pool restriction started. 

On the New York side, you'll find Taconic State Park, where you can camp and picnic. If you're on the Massachusetts side, the hours are sunrise to sunset. There are portable restrooms in the area from May through mid-October. If you want to fish, make sure you have the appropriate permit. You can bring your dog as long as they're on a leash. Drones, swimming, diving, alcohol, glass, grilling, fires, picnicking (on the MA side), and drones are prohibited.

The sad and deadly history of Bash Bish Falls

After three people died at Bash Bish Falls in the 1960s, swimming was prohibited, and a sign was put up. However, many people ignored that. In 2017, a man slipped from the falls and died. His body was lodged in a crevice, and it took days before it could be recovered. Twenty-five people total have died either from jumping or slipping, which is reason enough to close it. 

The pandemic was another part of what caused access to the stairs connecting the top and bottom of the falls to be blocked. During Covid restrictions, people were understandably desperate to get out in nature. Unfortunately, many went swimming in the pool, leaving garbage everywhere. In 2023, Bash Bish Falls had the parking area on the Massachusetts side changed, so there are minimal spots to leave your car. Parking is free, but it is limited to 24 cars only. 

With all of that said, the park is still lovely to visit, and you can view the falls from a platform. It's beautiful enough, even without swimming in the pool. Just make sure to wear the right shoes and be careful where you step.