The day that I visited the North Branch Cascades was one of those great days. The weather was warm, sunny, and comfortable. My husband and I recently moved to Vermont and we were excited to visit our first swimming hole in the state. Lucky for us, the North Branch Cascades Trail boasts many swimming holes, showcasing a series of seven cascading waterfalls along the North Branch of the Winooski River.
Our immediate impression of the one-mile long nature trail and surroundings was that everything was clean, serene, and even wild. We only passed a few other people on this beautiful Saturday afternoon. As we made our way down the trail, we excitedly checked out each swimming hole and sight of the river. The air smelled sweet, the forest shaded us, and the water eventually drew us in.
We found and settled in at a bright and tranquil spot along the river that had a picturesque waterfall. The water was clear, and we even spotted a few fish and tadpoles. There was a perfectly round and small swimming hole on top of the falls that quickly intrigued us. Of course, we took advantage of this tiny spot to dunk our heads underwater and lay back on the rocks to gaze at the blue skies and trees overhead. After we cooled off, we explored other waterfalls north and south of us walking carefully in the river water. We thoroughly enjoyed letting the falls just pour down on top of our heads for a few minutes, and watching the river swiftly wash past us while we sat in all kinds of grooved rock formations.
As a new resident to Vermont, I feel grateful knowing that there are places like the North Branch Cascades out there, freely accessible and welcoming everyone. I am also happy to know that half of this trail is wheelchair accessible. The North Branch Cascades was acquired and conserved thanks to a partnership between the Vermont River Conservancy and the Vermont Land Trust. These natural areas and recreational opportunities are so special, especially with the stresses of everyday life. That’s why I feel strongly about supporting conservation efforts — whether that means following updates, volunteering, or donating. The protection of these areas is so critical for the continued enjoyment and appreciation of nature by present and future generations.
Maggie Citarella is an environmental professional and certified arborist living in South Burlington, Vermont with her husband. Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley, she recently moved from South Carolina after receiving her M.S. degree in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at Clemson University and working for a community forestry nonprofit called TreesUpstate. With several years of experience in conservation, parks, and community forestry, Maggie enjoys getting outside and sharing her love of nature. As a Boston University alumna, she is excited to be back in New England. This fall, she is participating in the Vermont Master Naturalist Program. You can find Maggie walking her dogs, reading, or volunteering as she looks for her next opportunity. She is best reached by email at .