Housatonic River Reach 12

Last Updated: 9/2017
Sheffield Covered Bridge to Bartholomew's Cobble (at Rannapo Road Bridge)
    This reach of the river is completely flatwater with just an occasional Class 1 where downed trees prevail.  If you are looking for a quiet carefree paddle, this is the one for you.

Skill Level:            Class 1 - Flatwater
Estimated Time:    3.0 hours
Distance:               8.9 miles
USGS Map:  Ashley Falls, MA (7.5’x15’)
Sheffield Covered Bridge - 97.2
Position: 42-07.41 N 73-21.29 W 
Boat Launch:
There is parking for at least 10 vehicles.  Only car top launch.
Nearest Launch Address:
Covered Bridge Ln, Sheffield, MA 01257
Put-In Directions (17.1 miles, 26 minutes):
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90)
  1. At the end of the ramp turn left at the stoplight onto Route 20 West then left again onto Route 102 West toward Stockbridge.​​
  2. In the middle of Stockbridge, at mile 4.7, turn left on Route 7 South with the Red Lion Inn on the corner.
  3. Pass Mounument Mountain Regional High School on your left.  Continue downhill south on Route 7.
  4. At mile 11.3, Route 7 South crosses the river and turns left at a stop light onto Main Street.
  5. Follow Route 7 South through Great Barrington and south into Sheffield.
  6. At mile 16.9, turn left onto Covered Bridge Lane. Just before this turn is The Bridge restaurant on your left.
  7. At mile 17.1, turn right into the gravel parking area just before the gray covered bridge.
Sheffield Covered Bridge
A stairway leads from the parking to the Put-In/Take-Out
Plenty of Parking available
Bartholomew's Cobble
        Created by geologic upheavals when the Taconic and Berkshire ranges were formed, this hundred-foot-high bedrock outcropping introduces visitors to a rugged and exotic landscape that also supports 800 species of plants while offering terrific mountain vistas.
 What makes Bartholomew’s Cobble a special place?
        We think it’s the twin rocky knolls that give this rare, geologic phenomenon its intriguing name. Probably taken from a German word, kobel (meaning “rocks”), the Cobble began as coral reefs, shells, and sand as many as 500 million years ago when this area was an inland sea. When the Taconic and Berkshire mountains were formed, the still-forming strata were pushed upward and flipped over, leaving the rough and rugged underbelly exposed for millennia. The reservation’s more recent farming history lives on through herd of cattle grazing along the river.
             The cobbles consist mostly of quartzite and marble, whose alkaline soil supports an unusual array of flora – you’ll find one of North America’s greatest diversities of fern species here. The reservation also boasts one of the largest Cottonwood trees in the state. It’s this amazing diversity that led to the Cobble’s designation as a National Natural Landmark in 1971.
           The high point at Bartholomew’s Cobble, Hurlburt’s Hill, rises 1,000 feet to a 20-acre upland field on the Massachusetts–Connecticut border that offers panoramic views northward up the Housatonic River Valley.
            You can tour the cobbles, trees and understory plants, and river, on the Ledges Trail, which also passes two small caves kids love to explore. You can also trek through open fields, transitional forest, and freshwater marshes with beaver ponds along the Cobble's other trails. Don't forget to stop in to the natural history museum and visitor center either before or after your visit. And, to mix your natural history with some cultural history, follow the trail that leads to the nearby historic Ashley House, from where enslaved African American Mum Bett Freeman sued for her freedom, helping to end slavery in Massachusetts.
           For more information click the button below:         

Trustees of Reservation
Stairway from Road to River
Rannapo Road Bridge - 88.3
Position: 42-03.53 N 73-20.94 W 
Boat Launch:
Park road side on the Northwest side of the bridge. Follow the trail down to a nice shaded launch area on a small stream that empties into the Housatonic about 20 yards down. 
Nearest Address: 
864 Rannapo Rd, Ashley Falls, MA 01222
Put-In Directions ( 21.8 miles, 37 minutes)
From Exit 2 of the Massachusetts Turnpike (Rt. 90)
Follow steps 1 to 5 above and then:
  1. Continue south on Route 7 through the center of Sheffield.
  2. At mile 19.7, turn right onto Route 7A towards Ashley Falls.
  3. At mile 20.2, turn right crossing railroad tracks onto Rannapo Rd
  4. At mile 21.6 Rannapo Road curves left.
  5. At mile 21.8, arrive at the launch on your left just before the bridge that crosses the river. 
Roadside parking on Rannapo Road
Carry down this stairway.
Launch on this small side stream before pushing into the river.
Alternate Put-In
Water Farm Road just off of Maple Avenue Bridge. - 95.0
Position: 42-06.55 N 73-20.39 W
Boat Launch:
After crossing the bridge in Maple Avenue, make and sharp left on Water Farm Road. Almost immediately there is a small white sign with "Canoe" on it. Follow the trail to the river.
Nearest Address:
18 Water Farm Road, Sheffield, MA 01257​