Royalston Falls
Find Your Place
Royalston Falls Royalston, MA
217 acres

About Royalston Falls

Follow a descending trail that leads to a deep, ancient gorge carved by prehistoric glacial meltwater to falls that plunge 45 feet into a basin.

What makes Royalston Falls a special place?
We think it’s the remote location of the waterfalls – well worth the 0.8-mile descent to the edge a half-hidden ravine! Carved over the ages by Falls Brook, the boisterous cascade plunges 45 feet into an icy pool, sending up a misty spray through the thick forest hugging the gorge. A shelter on the trail offers a great resting spot.

As you make your way into the ravine, the dramatic falls remain hidden within an emerald cloak of dense forest and ferns. The flume appears suddenly, as if to offer a sensory reward for your exertions. In winter, freezing spray creates a fantastic landscape of ice.

Please note: The trek is not an easy one – and can be very wet in places, so you should use extreme caution when walking here.

The Forest’s Comeback
From the time of the first wave of European settlers in the 17th century, much of the Massachusetts forest was cut down for agricultural fields and pastures, firewood, and timber. Such wholesale land clearing continued into the 19th century until New England farmers abandoned their fields and headed west in search of richer, less rocky soil.

Today, the resurgent forest continues to slowly erase all remnants of human activity from more than a century ago.

But at this reservation, the forces of nature manifest themselves in ways other than just flora reclaiming its own; Falls Brook not only carved the flume but also fashioned a series of natural bridges through the bedrock just upstream.

A large group shelter, which overlooks Falls Brook, is available for overnight hikers. The shelter is located on the reservation near the intersection where the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail diverges from the Tully Trail.

A Tale of Two Trails
The primary access route to the falls is along a short stretch of the Tully Trail, a 22-mile loop encircling the scenic Tully Valley. But this 0.8-mile pathway down to Falls Brook is also part of the much longer Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. The M-M Trail extends for 117 miles from the border with Connecticut near Springfield to Mount Monadnock in southwest New Hampshire. 

Trails
1.5 miles of trails. Moderate hiking, strenuous in places. The trail is rugged and wet in places, so use extreme caution when hiking.

The reservation is a link in the Tully Trail and the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

Facilities
Interested in camping near Royalston Falls? Check out the Tully Lake Campground, also in Royalston.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Parents are encouraged to keep their children under close supervision in the areas surrounding the falls. Because of its difficult terrain and natural hazards, this trail is not recommended for children under the age of six.

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

  • Seasonal hunting is permitted. Learn more about hunting on Trustees land.

  • Mountain biking is permitted on designated trails only.

Directions

Route 32
Royalston, MA 01331
Telephone: 413.532.1631
Email: central@ttor.org

Latitude: 42.715
Longitude: -72.255

Get directions on Google Maps.

From Rt. 2, take Exit 18, Rt. 2A West. Follow into Athol. At the intersection of Rts. 2A and 32 in Athol, cross Millers River Bridge and bear right onto Chestnut Hill Rd. (becomes Athol Rd.) north toward Royalston. From Royalston Center, follow Rt. 68 North until it ends. Turn right onto Rt. 32 North and follow for 1.7 mi. to entrance on right. Enter the reservation via the marked Tully Trail.

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

Admission
FREE to all

Property History

Walking through this quiet region of north-central Massachusetts, it’s hard to imagine the heavily forested landscape’s former incarnation – as a local farmer/entrepreneur’s recreation park. Before becoming known as Royalston Falls, the imposing chute was called Forbes Falls. In the 1840s, Calvin Forbes owned and worked the land, which for generations had been cleared for crop production and livestock grazing.

Forbes also added people-friendly attractions. Couples and families could enjoy walks and picnics, and listen to music, all against the spectacular backdrop of the falls. There were swings and picnic tables, a variety of walkways, even a staircase leading to the roaring base of the falls themselves. People were learning that fresh air and exercise could have healthful effects on their hard lives. Like today, visitors could hike, fish, ride horses, or just study nature within a beautiful natural setting. At the top of the granite face, according to historical records, there was even erected a (short-lived) casino, where live bands played and couples danced!

Property Acquisition History
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George L. Foote in 1951 and 1954. Additional land purchased in 2002.

Conservation and Stewardship

Management Planning for Our Properties
 


Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
 


  • Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources. 

  • Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.

  • Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.

  • Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.


View Royalston Falls management plan.

Maps and Resources

Printed maps of the Tully Trail are distributed free from the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



Planning Your Visit

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations

Safety

About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.


Submitted by crowneagle on: July 10, 2012
Be careful, my brother ran into a black bear on the trail down to the falls.



Submitted by claire on: October 3, 2010
hey fellow hikers! i lost a blue NV3 cell phone on the path on saturday october 2. if anyone finds it and could email me at hip-albatross@hotmail.com that would be awesome. happy hiking!



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Announcements & Alerts

No advisories at this time.

Upcoming Things To Do
No events for this reservation at this time.
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