Where We Went: Shelburne Falls/Buckland, MA
When We Went: Annually since 2015 (Temporarily closed in 2020)
Difficulty (Boots 1 – 10): 0 Boots
Trail Length: Bridge Length, 400 Feet
How Long it Took Us: Two Hours
Overview: For a small little village off of the Mohawk Trail, Shelburne Falls manages to pack a lot into a little bit of space. Technically two towns bisected by the Deerfield River, Shelburne Falls and Buckland boast the beautiful Bridge of Flowers and the geologic glacial potholes.
The bridge was originally built in 1908 for trolleys to transport material from the Buckland railroad yard to factories in nearby towns. With the invention of motorized vehicles, the trolley bridge became obsolete and the trolley company went out of business. But simply tearing down the bridge was too expensive, and at the time, it held the pipe that carried water to the town of Buckland.
It was the vision of a local couple, Antoinette and Walter Burnham, who saved the bridge from becoming a decaying cast-off. Their home overlooked the bridge and one day, while staring at the weed-ridden structure, Mrs. Burnham is reported to have said to her husband that “if weeds can grow on that bridge, why not flowers?” Mr. Burnham, typed out her idea and sent it to the local paper, asking for volunteers. The Shelburne Falls Women’s Club responded to the call by taking on the project and in 1929, club members and others in the community rolled up their sleeves and moved 80 loads of loam and many yards of fertilizer to the bridge, replacing weeds with plants and flower seeds, many donated from their own gardens. Club members continued to nurture the plantings for many years thereafter. And that same spirit of volunteerism continues to sustain the Bridge of Flowers to this day and is known as the “Blossom Bridgade.”
A short walk will take you to Salmon Falls, the site of natural water-created carvings formed over the past 14,000 years. This erosive process continues today, the Deerfield River eroding holes into the hard gniess bedrock.
What We Dug: The town of Shelburne Falls and The Bridge of Flowers holds a particularly special place in my heart. It was here that one overcast afternoon, my husband proposed, our then two-year old son handing me the ring box underneath the catalpa tree. We return every year to see the seasonal blooms and remind ourselves of that moment.
The Bridge of Flowers attracts more than 60,000 visitors a year, from nearly every state and country throughout the world. No matter the season you visit, you’ll find something beautiful along the old trolley path.
Be sure to check out the glacial potholes at Salmon Falls, a geological wonder not to be missed. Try out the West End Pub for eats or grab a beer at Floodwater Brewing Co. You could even check out the Trolley Museum while you’re in town.
If you’re looking for a more verdant hike, Mass Audubon’s High Ledges Wildlife Sanctuary is nearby off of Patten Road. You can explore 5 miles of hiking trails, including stunning views of the Deerfield River Valley and Mount Greylock.
What We Could Do Without: We missed out on our annual anniversary visit in 2020 when COVID closed the bridge for the entire year. We were SO happy to hear about its reopening and are planning our visit!
Keep Your Eyes Peeled For: So. Many. Flowers. Check out THIS LINK for a list of what’s in bloom during your visit.
Must Know Before You Go’s: The Bridge is handicapped accessible for wheelchairs and walkers. The entrance on the Shelburne side, Water St., is best for dropping off passengers.
The Bridge of Flowers is normally open April 1 – October 31, weather permitting, 24-hours a day. There is no entrance fee, but donations are welcome. Due to COVID, the Bridge re-opens June 1st, 2021.
Visitors to the Bridge may express their appreciation by offering comments in the guest books, as well as donations in any amount, in the kiosks located at both entrances.
The only public restroom available is a portable toilet next to the Information Center. Restaurants offer restrooms for use of their patrons only.
Service dogs only, as protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Pets or therapy animals are not allowed on the Bridge.
Directions: 22 Water Street, Shelburne Falls, MA. 01370
Two- hour parking is free throughout the Village. On Water Street, there is a public parking lot adjacent to the Bridge of Flowers.
Note: Detour around road construction in the village center: Visitors are advised to take the THIRD LEFT into the Village off Route 2, onto STATE STREET. The entrance to the Bridge of Flowers will be on your left at the end of State Street. All shops and restaurants, as well as the Bridge of Flowers, will remain open during construction.