Dates Of Visits: December 26 & 27, 2018
Locations: Bear Hole Rd, West Springfield, MA and 175 Bridle Path Rd, West Springfield, MA
Hours: Open daily, dawn until dusk
Parking: There is a parking area at the end of Bear Hole Rd for about 20 cars
Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,700 acres, 2.6 mile gravel and dirt loop, easy with a few average inclines
Handicapped Accessible: No, some of the trails are rocky, unpaved and steep
Dog Friendly: Yes
Highlights: vernal pools, waterfall, running, hiking, cycling, dog friendly (leashed), waterfall, wildlife, scenic views
Map: Bear Hole Reservation Trail Map (myhikes.com)
Websites: Bear Hole Reservoir Trail (alltrails.com)
Bear Hole Reservior Trail (myhikes.com)
Nestled at the end of what may seem like any other side street off Dewey St in West Springfield, MA, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail is truly a hidden gem. If not for a relative who clued me into this hidden treasure, I may not have known it existed. In fact, the first time I drove to the reservoir, I wasn’t quite sure I was going the correct way. I’m sure many people drive by the main road that leads to the reservoir without realizing it.
Once thought to be the home of the Woronocos, a sub-group of the
Pocumtucks, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail has many natural wonders.Bear Hole Reservoir, which was built in 1956, was meant to deliver drinking water to the residents of West Springfield. However, according to a 2012 report states the Bear Hole Reservoir and Treatment Facility has been inactive since 2011 although the West Springfield Works Department do still monitor the water supply. Reports of seepage, poor construction and spalling concrete are a few of the reasons the reservoir is not in use for the town’s water supply. However, it seems like it could be used as a water supply if there were drought like conditions or the main source of water was compromised.
The first attraction at you will probably see at Bear Hole is the waterfall and stream that leads to the head of the reservoir.
A variety of wildlife, such as deer, bears and even the occasional beaver have been reported and photographed at Bear Hole.
I found this beaver chewing on a piece of vegetation when I went off the main trail. There is a worn trail off the main trail by the waterfall, which is part of the Paucatuck Brook, where you can walk closer to the stream of water. Although I didn’t see any deer, I did find evidence of them.
The head of the reservoir, which was partially frozen due to the cold temperatures, and the views along the way are a sight worth seeing. The short hike is definitely worth it.
The tree-lined dirt trail is easy. The only steep part is the incline from the front part of the reservoir onto the second part of the loop. It may be better for some people to backtrack from the way you came as this trail is easier. But, it will be longer than taking the loop back.
There are lots of pretty views along the trails, especially this time of the year with the icy vernal ponds. I suppose that’s kind of ironic to type that. But, I have gained a deeper appreciation over time for the skeletal tree structures and the icy bodies of water. Bear Hole is proof that beauty does not only exist during the warmer seasons.
Leashed pets, and maybe some well behaved dogs off leash, are allowed at Bear Hole. One of the dogs I saw on the trail is Roxie, a 3 year old Basenji (Africa’s “barkless dog”).
I look forward to bringing more of Hidden New England to you. If you would like to learn more about the hidden gems of New England, please take a moment to check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hiddennewengland/ and like or follow me there. I plan on posting links and other information on my Facebook page that may not be included in my blog posts.