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Gravel biking through the Gilbert A Bliss forest.

Exploring the Westfield River, MA

By Tom Richardson

Hampshire County, Massachusetts, comprises a wealth of open spaces and waters to explore. One of the more scenic spots is Chesterfield Gorge, on the Westfield River in the town of Chesterfield. The property is owned and managed by The Trustees, and offers free parking, scenic overlooks of the gorge, and access to a hiking and gravel biking trail (gravel biking is a cross between off-road mountain biking and easier road biking).

Even at low water the Westfield River holds deep pools where bathers can cool off in summer.

The trail is basically a dirt access road that runs along the Westfield, starting at the gorge and stretching seven miles to the flood plain above the Knightville Dam. Along the way, it winds through the Gilbert A. Bliss State Forest and offers numerous places to stop and fish, enjoy a picnic, or take a dip in the river.

Mountain laurel blooms along the river trail in spring.

The Westfield offers some of the best fly fishing in Massachusetts, particularly in May and June, when the water temperature is still cool enough to support trout. The river includes miles of pocket water and several classic pools that hold browns, rainbows, and brookies.

Fly fishing for brown, brook and rainbow trout is popular along the Westfield.

Birding is also popular along the Westfield River, particularly in the flood plan at the end of the trail. As you bike or hike along, keep your eyes and ears open for yellow warblers, black-and-white warblers, red-eyed vireos, and American redstart, among the more common resident species.

View of the Chesterfield Gorge near The Trustees property parking area.
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