Hopp Brook Falls, Bethany
Not to be confused with the much more famous Hop River in eastern Connecticut, Bethany’s Hopp Brook has its own charms. And by charms I mean modestly impressive seasonal waterfalls.
Yes, falls, plural. Not that you’d know there were two here, unless you’re reading this page. My bushwhacking error is your waterfall gain. And you should know that my error was really pretty dumb.
The main falls are no secret. They are right off of a road named Falls Road. They received a fairly humiliating page in the Connecticut Waterfalls guidebook.
These seasonal falls are engulfed by thick swaths of moss, leading to one of the greenest waterfall scenes anywhere in Connecticut. With high water flow, which I’ll admit is probably only a few days per year, the moss surrounding this series of tiny plunges could provide some good photographic value. Because the falls are not well-known, and the fact that they aren’t directly on the trail and are extremely seasonal, visitation is incredibly light. I’d be shocked if you shared this place with another party on the day of your visit. In fact, it’s likely your visit will be the only one that day (or week).
I’m not sure how true that is. If you follow directions, the trail to the falls is wide and easy. Yes, scrambling over the rocks and boulders to reach the base is no picnic, but it’s not exactly impossible either. On top of that, the walk to the falls from the parking area is only about 10 minutes long.
However, I did not do that. I drove over to the pull-out at the intersection of Falls and Pole Hill Roads. I had half an hour until my son’s soccer game kicked off a short way’s away, so I hopped out of my car, took a picture of the trailhead sign, and just followed the brook on my left.
I was immediately confronted with the fact that there was no trail. There did seem to be vestiges of an old trail, but the recent Bethany tornado did quite a number on a stand of large trees here.
I figured that the felled trees blocked the lightly used trail and no one has put in the time and effort to clear the path. So I made my own path over and under the trees and through the thorns and winged euonymus bushes. The stream was still right to my left, and I could clearly hear the falls, so I bumbled onward.
Now, Connecticut had received a veritable deluge the night before, so I was mildly excited that the falls would be pretty good. There was absolutely no trail at all, even past the tornado trees, but the sound of the crashing water drew me onward.
Up, over a rocky rise and down the steep other side and there they were! Hopp Brook Falls!
I picked my way through some more brush and enjoyed the scenes. Nice work.
I decided to go around the steep little hill, away from the stream and to perhaps avoid all the treefall as well. Ahhh, much easier… I figured I’d just head back up to the road through more open woods and…
Huh? What’s that over there in the distance? A much bigger waterfall?
Yes, you dingaling, the actual Hopp Brook Falls. Perhaps I should have read this before forging into the woods.
Follow the blue-blazed trail that stems from the parking area. The trail never strays too far from the road. In 300 feet, you’ll see the cellar remains of the A.T. Hotchkiss Homeplace (c. 1868) on your right. You’ll reach the 15-foot falls about 300 feet further, but you’ll have to bushwhack about 100 feet to get to the base of them. Be careful of loose boulders and the ankle-twisting holes between them as you travel off-trail.
So I didn’t have to clamber over 200 trees and through a bunch of thorns? (No. I did not.)
I made my way over to the real falls, crossed the trail, which is wide and flat and, yup, blazed blue. I will say again that the description above is true: The scramble to the base of the falls is dicey. At one point my leg disappeared down an unseen hole between rocks and a smashed my shin pretty good. Be careful.
The guidebook author is also correct about the flow here. We had a ton of rain 12 hours prior to my visit and Hopp Brook Falls was still fairly weak. Very pretty, but not a lot of water volume.
Back over the rocky minefield and… wow, yeah, this is an easy trail. Back up to Falls Road, over to the soccer field, and just in time for the kickoff whistle. After you park at the intersection, you’ll want to walk west on Falls Road a bit to find the trail into the woods. I guess my circuitous route is more fun though.
Calvin banged in two goals to cap off an undefeated fall. Two for him, two for me… a successful morning all around!