If you acknowledge that all Quabbin Gates begin with Gate #1, then Gate #5 would be the first gate open to the public. Gate 5 is a neatly pleated away notch in the Quabbin’s southern region. By traveling along Route 202 in Belchertown, Massachusetts, you can turn onto Allen Street, just north of where Route 9 intersects Route 202. When you get to the end of Allen Street, turn left onto Old Enfield Road and follow until it concludes at the yellow gate. If on Route 9 in Belchertown, turn right at the intersection with Route 21, onto Old Enfield Road and follow it until it ends at the yellow gate.
One intriguing feature of this neighborhood in the Quabbin is that it has a brook of lengthy proportions, which has not been officially named. According to a reliable source, DCR Personnel refer to this brook as Gate Brook, though no one seems to understand why.
This particular brook can be made most readily available through either Gate 5 or Gate 6, so I made it a combined effort over the course of a week. Gate 5 offers a more uninterrupted route to the mouth of the brook, while Gate 6 provides more scenery, history, and character along a lengthier route to the top of the ravine where I had estimated its rushing descent to begin. To caveat and complement this entry, I will also note that Gate 7 provides the fastest avenue to the bog from which the brook draws. However, the bog and immediate output are relatively unimpressive compared to Gates 5 & 6 in reference to this brook, so it has been excluded for now, and will be introduced later, in a separate entry.
Another aesthetic feature of Gate 5 is that the water comes into view almost immediately. It’s not far at all before you retain a glimpse of it beyond the rolling hills. A deeper probe down the road produces a cellar hole to the left, with a somewhat complex network of foundation walls deeper into the tree line. Beyond that is a concrete pad that appears to be some kind of old driveway, with a small staircase on the side leading into where the house once stood.
Finally, once emerging from the canopy along the old road, you come to the water with one of the most prominent spill sites I have seen. The asphalt beneath the clear water is quite easily visible with current water levels, and is as black as the day it was laid.
Visiting this spot on the beach inspired a sense of nostalgia as it was the first time from land I saw Enfield Tower since I first went to the Quabbin and stood inside of it, the account of which can be found here. The defined break between land masses also marks the location that separates Quabbin Park from Prescott Peninsula, Hampshire County from Franklin County, Belchertown from Ware from New Salem, and a convergence of where once met the Middle and West Branches of The Swift River! One might argue that this spot in Quabbin is the heart of the Reservoir and lifeblood of everything since spawned.
Back up from the beach just a few feet and back onto the road that led you there, and you will find a wide footpath to the left. Following this path will lead you straight and unnoticeably uphill to a cliff that overlooks a spot I call Emerald Bay. Emerald Bay sets inward toward the mouth of Gate Brook but not before emitting some of the greenest shore water I’ve seen in the Quabbin Reservoir; its depth rather ominous as well.
The boding overview provides precisely the right culmination of reach and safety in viewing. To the left of the path, leading all the way to the edge, is a property boundary that you have to climb over and temporarily break brush in order to gain access to the mouth of Gate Brook.
On the way, an old relic exists. I discovered a Utility Pole still standing in the middle of the woods, still tethered to the ground by metal binding cable. Scattered fence debris also remains on the ground, utterly useless.
The mouth of Gate Brook stands blocked and obstructed by fallen trees and vegetative debris, still displaying much character and unique design.
If your intent is to engage in a longer stroll through the woods, with a less inhibited avenue to where the excitement in the brook begins, Gate 6 would be more advantageous. Following the same directions as earlier, you would go to the road immediately prior to where Allen Street meets Old Enfield Road and go north. After a short drive, the road ends at yet another yellow gate marked with the number 6!
This road past the gate starts uphill right away. An old cellar hole also graces this route on the right nearly as soon as you reach the crest of the first hill.
The remainder of the road is fairly uneventful except for an unmarked turn to the left at the highest point along the road before the point where it meets Gate Brook. I didn’t explore this turn, as it looked more like a DCR-generated opening and subsequent clearing than something of historic significance.
After a downhill turn, you can gaze down the slope to the right and see the brook passing by in the distance. A leveling-off of the road will display the culvert through which Gate Brook passes.
Accessing this brook requires a treacherous tumble along the ravine wall. The hillsides tower around the brook which, on a map, assumes a flourishing and cascading nature to the brook’s character. However, as this brook happens to fall directly in the middle of this valley, it somewhat disappoints the wayward waterfall-seeker. The contour lines on a map indicate that this should be a spectacle of Quabbin proportions, but measures at best to a misleading expectation.
The brook itself is, however, full of character and has quite a tantalizing array of inlets that create the sum of Gate Brook. Mini waterfalls litter throughout, from start to finish, but the brook is only a foot or a foot-and-a-half wide and perhaps a few inches deep. It does make for pretty pictures, but may be one of the few places in the Quabbin that are better seen in pictures than it is more impressive in person.
Yet again, a sight worth seeing, and one to which you can take the kids. Aside from the brook there are several other sights to see such as Emerald Bay and the view of Enfield Tower and the cellar holes. The cliff above the bay makes it well worth the trip also.
The road to the water
First sighting of water
Cellar holes, property walls, stone network
Perhaps an old driveway
First sight of water from the beach. Enfield Tower on the hill in the distance
Close-up of Enfield Tower
The separation of Quabbin Park from the Southern tip of Prescott Peninsula
Spill Site of Old Enfield Road into the water
High view on cliff over Emerald Bay
Looking outward from Emerald Bay side view
Perhaps a nostalgic view of Quabbin, showing the mouth of Gate Brook
Last cascade of Gate Brook before it opens to the mouth and into the water
Moss-covered steps to the left of the old driveway shown earlier
Cellar Hole in Gate 6
Into Gate 6
The turn off at the crest of the hill. Unmarked on the map, looks like a DCR turn-out
The beginning of the falls off of the Gate 6 trail
Good picture of the inlet streams
I’ve been seeing a lot of these lately. Does anyone know what this is?
Shown here is an emblematic shot of the ravine sloping inward toward the stream.