Days spent at swim holes are some of the most magical moments of summer. One of the best things is walking into the woods and finding a secluded breath-takingly beautiful spot to cool off on a hot day.
Here are two of my favorite spots:
Locally (Easthampton), I go to the North branch of the Manhan River accessed through Hartnett Manhan Memorial Forest. As you drive on Loudville Rd. away from Easthampton, the trailhead is on your left across from the intersection with Drury Lane. Walk in less than a half-mile and where the trail bends to the left, look to the right, you’ll see a clearing. That’s it! There’s a sandy bank and lots of beautiful rocks. It’s a great swim hole for little ones with many beautiful rocks to be found. Adults can get fully wet there too.
Historical Information about this spot is that it once was the home of the Loudville Lead Mines. The lead from this mine was used for musket balls for soldiers fighting the revolutionary war.
For a day trip when I want to spend most of the day in and out of the water, I head up to the South River in Conway, MA. There’s an incredible spot with tiers of waterfalls and a rock ledge to jump off. You can fully immerse here. There’s a sandy beach and lots of great boulders to climb. Fun and adventuring for all ages!
To arrive, you need to get to Conway Station Road from Bardswell Ferry Road. Once on Conway Station Rd, drive until you see a parking area and a little sign structure on your right. Walk in on the trail that is made with log steps. You will descend to the top of a dam and a waterfall. Follow the path down along the waterfall and you’ll arrive!
There are pull-offs on Conway Station Rd. before this pull-off with trails down to other spots along the river.
Historical information about this area: http://southriver.franklinsites.com/index.php
If you live here, you know that the people of Western MA share in the spirit of generosity. People care about their community and their neighbors.
Valley Gives Day is an annual event to give to the non-profits throughout the region who support our communities. It’s a great way to learn about the great work they do and be a part of supporting them.
Valley Gives Day is sponsored by the Community Foundation of Western MA.
It’s cold outside, but Spring is within reach. I know this because it’s time to register for a spring road race!
There’s the classic Holyoke St. Patty’s race that dates back to 1976. I haven’t done it yet. I know there’s a big hill, but I also know it’s a TON of FUN. This may be my year! I’m definitely going to put a team together for the 1st annual Syrup Stampede in Look Park that is benefitting the organization near and dear to my heart, Empty Arms. It’s a very accessible race for all levels and there’s pancakes at the end! Now, this last one is more of a tease because it’s already sold-out. The Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton is hosting a scenic run that ends at their brewery with a mountain view. Nice! Next year.
Holyoke St. Patrick’s Road Race,
Saturday, March 17, 2018
10K/6.2 miles, 1:00pm – 3:00 pm
2 Mile Walk (departs after runners)
Kids Fun Run, free, 10:45am
Run or Walk, Eat Pancakes, Feel Good
Sunday, April 8, 2018, Look Park
5K Run/Walk to benefit Empty Arms Bereavement, 10am
After running, enjoy a free pancake breakfast
Fort Hill Brewery Half Marathon & 5K
Scenic roads, fresh beer, local food
Sunday, April 15, 2018, Easthampton
(Registration closed — put on calendar for next year)
Every time I go there, I leave with a couple good finds. I always get compliments when I wear the velvet JCrew blazer I got there, and I can’t help boasting that I got it for $4. They do a great job at keeping merchandise flowing and not overstuffing the racks. If you join their monthly mailing list, you’ll receive a monthly 50% off coupon so any day could be a Thursday!
Living in a community is not only about the good times. What can be the most telling is the support your find during the toughest times. Having moved here to start a family, we were overjoyed when I became pregnant with twins in the summer of 2010 (after 2 years of trying unsuccessfully in NYC). We were nurtured through this process first by the excellent midwives at Holyoke Midwifery Care and finally through science at Baystate Hospital. However, our excitement turned to despair when we learned at our 20 week ultrasound that both of our babies were afflicted with genetic abnormalities that were “incompatible with life”.
Somehow the Empty Arms Bereavement Support pamphlet found it’s way into my hands. I nervously called the number one evening expecting to leave a message. Instead, the loving voice of Carol McMurrich, Empty Arm’s founder, answered the phone, listened to my story, and immediately I knew that I wasn’t alone. That began my relationship with Empty Arms. The support groups and community that Empty Arms offered us was our lifeline through that devastating time. We carry the love and loss of our twin daughters with us as well as the loving and supportive community of Empty Arms.
Empty Arms helps families navigate their grief after experiencing miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss.
Ok. So, it’s really frickin’ cold outside! It was -3 this morning. Yesterday was cold too. This is how we survived the weekend with our 5 year old.
- the Hampshire YMCA in Northampton , community central. Once you live here for awhile, you won’t be able to go there without running into someone you know. This weekend I took our kid to a swim class in the little pool. It’s super warm in there. This was a great way to get toasty. I also recommend dropping you dear little one at child watch while you go up and enjoy the sauna or the steam room. Working out is also always an option.
- the Lossone Ice Arena in Easthampton, which offers indoor public ice skating on Sunday’s beginning mid-December and runs through early March from 3-5 p.m. You must bring your own skates. Better yet, get your kids involved with the Nonotuck Valley Hockey Association. (based at Lossone) They offer a great Learn to Skate and Learn to Play program for younger children.
- Children’s Museum of Holyoke. This place is awesome. There are plenty of opportunities for kids to be physical – climbing and building as well inspiration for imaginative play. They are open 12pm – 4pm on weekends, and we could easily stay the whole time.
The place to be this evening in Easthampton is New City Brewery where residents will be celebrating our new Mayor Nicole LaChapelle and helping her launch her new community service initiative.
Bring your dancing shoes and join us for a Mardi Gras style get down atNew City Brewery featuring New Orleans trombone sensation, the Glen David Andrews Band. Chef Neftalí Duran will be serving up bayou inspired street food starting 6PM and Nicole LaChapelle will take the stage at 7PM to kickoff the festivities. Tickets are $15, with a limited number of FREE tickets available to volunteers.
LaChapelle ignited the Easthampton voters this past November by canvasing door to door and mobilizing a dedicated group of volunteers. And now we’re all ready to celebrate!
I love living in Western MA. Don’t you?
My partner, ‘drea, and I moved here in 2009 from New York City. We were looking for a community to buy a home and create a family. We wanted natural beauty and access to cultural events. We have not been disappointed. In fact, we’ve fallen more in love with Western MA with each year.
We live in Easthampton and work in Holyoke and Northampton. We love all three of these communities.
I’ve created Lindsey’s Guide to share all about what we love about living, working and playing in the Pioneer Valley. Please follow me and let me know things I should include.