« All News

Youth Trail Crew Improves Huntington Gorge Swimming Hole

September 7, 2023
Huntington Gorge in Richmond, VT

From August 14th to the 17th the Vermont River Conservancy hosted a crew of trail workers from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps at Huntington Gorge in Richmond. Through a Vermont DEC Clean Water Grant, the team worked to reduce erosion and maintain trails. 

The team was challenged by torrential rains and high waters, but persevered with the help of their crew leaders, Scout and Viv, who utilized flexibility and positive attitudes to keep the crew going. This was the last project of the season for this 5-person crew of youth ages 15-17 of mostly local youth (one member coming from Idaho to spend the summer with his grandparents in VT), learning hands-on trail building skills and teamwork. 

The crew installed stone steps above the gorge, and consolidated multiple “social trails” into single official trails to reduce erosion and improve wayfinding. Below the gorge, on the trail that leads through the mossy forest to a rocky beach, the crew installed waterbars, maintained stone steps, and built three sections of boardwalk to cross a bubbling seep. 

Students also helped install warning signage at that area with guidance from the Richmond Land Trust, which owns and manages Huntington Gorge. The well known swimming hole’s deep pools and rocky shores attract thousands of visitors each year. It’s also one of the most dangerous river access sites in Vermont. At least two dozen people have died in the gorge, the most recently this July just days after floods ravaged Central Vermont. It’s also just a short drive from Bolton Potholes, which also claimed the life of a young man in July.

In both locations, upstream rain can quickly result in swift currents, and fast, air-filled water can make it impossible to float, overwhelming even the strongest swimmers. While installing safety signs, Corps Members learned about these types of safety concerns, developing new understanding that can help keep them safe at swimming holes across the region. 

To discover safer and less crowded swimming holes, visit vermontriverconservancy.org, where an interactive map of river access sites includes places to swim, paddle, fish, and walk statewide.

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.

Stay in Touch

Subscribe and get the latest on VRC’s initiatives and events.