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Explore Southern Vermont Swimming Holes

August 11, 2023
Rainbow Rock swimming hole

It’s a sunny August day in the mid-seventies and the outdoors is calling. Where do you go? In southern Vermont, public access riverlands managed by Vermont River Conservancy are the perfect place to explore the sights, sounds, and sensations of your living world.

At Green River Meadows in Guilford, a trail follows the Green River. You’ll see the river through the trees to your left, shimmering like a beacon behind the screen of hemlocks and sugar maples. For a full view, head down the side trail to the Rapids, where the water jumps and churns over rocks in the channel bed. Or visit Acorn Beach, a calmer spot in the river where the water is slow and shallow, with bedrock lining the opposite bank.

Hear a distant flittering? Take the side trail to visit Frog Rock Beach and you might see the busy little bird called the Willow Flycatcher foraging for insects in the willows that grow along the water.

If you’ve packed a picnic, the open meadow overlooking the river is the perfect place to set up. Wildflowers and grasses lend a soothing array of color that changes throughout the season as different species bloom and produce fruits and seeds. From your blanket, you can enjoy the warm sun on your face and the sounds of birdsong blending with the flowing water.

Rainbow Rock in Chester is another southern Vermont gem stewarded by Vermont River Conservancy. This scenic spot features a dramatic view of the Williams River, where bedrock outcrops provide ancient stability yet islands of cobble in the river channel reveal a story of movement and change. A steeply sloping forest of sugar maple, beech, hemlock, and basswood adds to the majesty of the site.

Tune into your inner botanist and you’ll discover that most of the plants at Rainbow Rock are native species, with familiar friends and perhaps a few stumpers that will inspire you to pull out your hand lens for a closer look. The spot is a great place to view wildlife, from teeming dragonflies to the family of common mergansers that calls this river home. Amazingly, this refuge is just a short walk down from the roadside, despite feeling like a wilder realm.

As always, be safe when enjoying Vermont’s many swimming holes:

  • Avoid swimming 48 hours after a heavy rain.
  • Scan the area for any dangerous rocks, outcroppings, or human made structures that may pose increased risk.
  • Look closely at the surface water. If there is a strong current or frothy water, do not go in.
  • Check the water temperature. Cold water drops core body temperature resulting in inability to control muscles.

For now, considering the recent floods and ongoing rain, it may be best to bring a picnic and a book to enjoy the peace and beauty of our rivers from the shoreline.

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