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A hike is great, but a hike with a unique waterfall and stone structure at the end is even better. Enter Dover Stone Church, one of the most unusual sites in Dutchess County.

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Its recorded history dates back as early as the 1600s, when, as the legend goes, a Native American warrior hid in the cave. The hike is an enjoyable mile, beginning with a series of staircases that lead through a meadow of beautiful wildflowers. Entering the forest, you’ll find yourself crossing a sweet wooden bridge and might not be able to resist dipping your feet in the stream. Rounding the corner you’ll hear the echo of water, and a hush falls over the rocks around you. After a few mini waterfalls, you’ll spot it… the Stone Church. A description of the Stone Church cannot do it justice; it truly must be seen. Giant spears of rock collapsed at one point long ago, leading to a church-like structure that happens to have a waterfall running through it.

Stone Church Waterfall

Step over the water and enter the church. Poke around in the corners, take some pictures, and then picnic off to the side and marvel at its beauty.

Inside Stone Church

Children will hop from rock to rock, splashing in this natural playground. You’ll feel the peaceful aura of the Church and want to stay and soak it up. This beautiful spot is one to visit again and again.

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(Photo credits go to Tracey Fein. When we arrived at the Stone Church I found my battery had not charged overnight as I’d thought. Tracey was so kind as to take and share a few of her photos with us.)

Two of the best things about living in the Hudson Valley are its proximity to the hustle and bustle of New York City, and its proximity to so many breath-taking natural wonders.  Bash Bish Falls is without a doubt one of those spots.  Bash Bish Falls is a 200 foot waterfall whose beauty is surrounded by gigantic rocks, pools of water, greenery, and a gorge that dates back to the last Ice Age.  Every July, we take the scenic route through Millbrook and toward Copake, NY, where the state borders Mt. Washington, Massachusetts.  Parking is simple (not always the case in nature) and as you exit your car you’ll hear the faint rush of water.  You’ll find yourself just a few steps from the falls runoff, and at the beginning of a 3/4 mile hike.  The hike is short, albeit uphill, with a dirt path that includes a good deal of small rocks and tree roots.  What’s unique about this hike is that you’ll travel alongside the bottom of the falls, and won’t be able to resist the siren pull of the water.  Although “no swimming” is posted along the hike, both the young and old stop to frolic in the stream.

The beautiful stream

The beautiful stream

In fact, we always picnic on one special rock, which faithfully waits for us year after year.

Our lunch rock

Our lunch rock

About two-thirds of the way up the hill, you’ll find a spot marked by a quaint wooden sign which informs you that you’re about to walk yourself right into Massachussets.  Each time, we can’t resist taking a photo to mark this accomplishment.

Half New York, half Massachusetts.  How many waterfall hikes can claim that?

Half New York, half Massachusetts. How many waterfall hikes can claim that?

When you reach the top of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the waterfall and gorge.  After descending a long rock staircase,  you’ll know why you’ve come.

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The very bottom of the Falls has a deep, cool, clear pool, into which daredevils and families alike take the plunge.  In front of the pool, humongous rock after rock begs to be climbed.  On any given day, these rocks delight young couples lounging in the shade, kids hopping from rock to rock, and dogs drinking from the water.  No matter how long we spend climbing and relaxing in the water, I’m always sad when it’s time to pack up and take the 3/4 mile walk back to our car.  After a peaceful, refreshing, exciting afternoon, I leave looking forward to next July, when we can return once again to the Falls.

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