Beard Recreation Park

Name of Project:    Beard Recreation Park and Swimming Hole

Location:      Johnson

River:   Gihon RiverLois-Frey_fall_Beard

Type of Project: Public Access

Public Access: yes

Date Completed: December 2015

Size:   1.89 acres

Water Frontage: 600 feet

Landowner: Town of Johnson

Funding Partners:  VT Forest Parks and Recreation’s Land Water Conservation Fund, Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Fields Pond Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation’s Green Mountain Fund, Johnson State College Student Government Association, Butternut Mountain Farm, Rock Art Brewery, Merchant’s Bank, Concept II, and the generous support of many local donors.

Property Description: With approximately 600 feet of river frontage, this parcel possesses beautiful shoreline, waterfalls, and swimming spots along the Gihon River. A rock ledge outcropping in the river creates a deep swimming “pool” with an extensive sand and gravel beach – suitable for swimmers of all ages and abilities. The bedrock also forms beautiful waterfalls and cascades in the Gihon River channel. The upper fields have trails and flat, open land for enjoying nature.

Project Background:  For generations, local residents and visitors of Johnson VT have enjoyed a beautiful, Olympic-sized swimming hole and a bucolic open field and beach along the Gihon River.  In 2014, as the Beard family prepared to sell it, they contacted the Vermont River Conservancy with wishes to protect public access in honor of their parents, Florence and Hubert Beard.  On the open market, a private purchaser would very likely have built a house and prohibited public access, given the parcel’s ideal downtown location.

Partnering with the Town of Johnson, the Vermont River Conservancy secured major funding to purchase the property and protect it. This land will now forever be accessible to the public as the “Beard Recreation Park.”

Directions: From Vermont Route 15, turn onto Pearl St. in Johnson Village (left if coming from the west; right if coming from the east).  After 0.1 mile, turn right onto School St. Beard Recreation Park is located on the right, just before the Power House Bridge. Parking is available on site.

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