You see that guy off in the distance? Out there in the middle of the woods waving the white flag of surrender? That's me.
Merely a month ago, I had knocked the crown off Granby's Enders Falls as king of the Connecticut waterfalls and placed it firmly on Campbell Falls, a Massachusetts cascade actually part-owned by the Constitution state.
And then I got an e-mail from fellow hiking enthusiast John LeShane. We had both seen each other while exploring Campbell Falls that April day. He was leading his intrepid group of Meshomasic Hiking Club members on their weekly hike. I had just explored the wonders of Campbell Falls. We had both agreed there was no place like it.
And then he went to Sages Ravine in Salisbury a few weeks ago and sent me an e-mail simply noting: "We discovered, in my humble opinion, the best waterfall in the state." Except his "humble opinion" is golden with me. If he says it is, then it is true.
So half-excitedly and half-resigned for another king-of-the-state-waterfalls defeat, I ventured to the ravine last week. And discovered what I knew would be the, sigh, truth – the king of the state's waterfalls is really Sages Ravine.
For those who have been to Enders Falls and Campbell Falls, Sages Ravine is a combination of the two. The main falls at Sages Ravine is almost an exact replica of Campbell Falls, except it is twice the size. The falls that tumble southeast from there resemble the various beautiful plunges associated with Enders Falls.
But the setting is what gives this king its treasure. Simply put, you feel like you are in the wilds of the northern Vermont or New Hampshire. There are no manmade objects disturbing your view. No parking lots or road. The trails are rustic and difficult to navigate. The waterfalls are surrounded by cliffs that are increasingly difficult to hike. And I didn't see another soul during my two-hour visit.
I didn't have the day to take the long way to Sages – the Appalachian Trail from Mount Riga State Park to the top of Bear Mountain and down into the ravine. A pulloff along Route 41 and a hike of less than a mile served as my route to the highlights of the ravine.
The ravine is pretty unremarkable as you first walk along the trail - a meandering brook flowing clear through a valley filled with hemlocks. But as you pass through a grove of mountain laurel, the noise from the ravine begins to echo through the forest and the viewscape opens to a ravine filled with waterfalls and plunges flowing over boulders and ledges and into deep pools.
The highlight of the trip was a deep ravine where water flowed down along the sides of the moss-covered granite cliffs and dripped and echoed into a deep pool filled with clear water. Upstream, a series of waterfalls tumbled into the pool before flowing out along another sequence of plunges.
From here, a series of unmarked trails take visitors to the largest of the ravine's waterfalls. Visitors to the area should remain on the main trail at all times. The side trails go through very fragile natural areas so treat the area with respect. They can also be dangerous if you are not cautious at all times. The area is beautiful and you should always think of the next visitor who follows in your footsteps.
As LeShane pointed out in his e-mail, "beauty, of course, is in the eyes of the beholder." I should probably hold off on the coronations until I've seen all the state's waterfalls. I am learning that the hard way. And feel free to put my head in the guillotine if I am wrong again.
The easiest access to Sages Ravine is from a parking area along Route 41 about four miles north of its junction with Route 44. The pulloff, just south of the Massachusetts border and before crossing Sages Ravine Brook has enough room for three or four cars. For the more adventurous, park at the Mount Riga State Park and hike north along the Appalachian Trail.