North Branch Cascades Trail
Worcester, Elmore, Vermont
North Branch of the Winooski
- Public access: Yes
- Activities: swimming, hiking, birding, fishing, photography
- Caretaker: Vermont River Conservancy
North Branch Cascades Trail
When volunteers got together to launch Vermont River Conservancy in 1995, this place was on their minds. The area’s older forest, mossy riverbed, cascading pools, and location just north of Vermont’s capital city, all added-up to a clear place for riverside protection. In 2018, this dream was realized. When E.B. Hyde and Deer Lake timber companies were ready to sell 6,000 acres of its land, Vermont River Conservancy was ready to step-up to make sure this forested slice along the North Branch of the Winooski would be protected from timber harvest and open for quiet recreation. Vermont Land Trust bought the E.B. Hyde timber lands, then gave these 78-acres to Vermont River Conservancy.
The North Branch Cascades is a remarkable 1-mile stretch along the North Branch of the Winooski River. It has seven stunning waterfalls and numerous deep holes for swimming. A 1-mile nature trail along the river, all of which is now wheelchair accessible, gives people of all abilities the chance to connect with the river. Multiple stone stairways wind down the banks to the river, giving visitors the chance to explore the many cascades. The site offers a unique nature experience in a verdant, moist, and mature hardwood-hemlock-spruce forest along the cold, mountain waters of the North Branch of the Winooski, and is a great place for bird watching, nature study, hiking, fishing, swimming, and picnicking.
This site is truly special for natural history enthusiasts. Abundant Canada Yew and large diameter Hemlock and Red Spruce along portions of the trail suggest much of the riparian forest is mature and has had little human disturbance for a while, and it certainly feels that way!
There are three access points along Route 12. One is at the south end, one in the middle, and one at the far northern end. There are accessible privies a short distance from both the north and south parking areas.
- River: North Branch of the Winooski
- Acreage: 78.00
- River frontage (ft): 5,000
This project made possible thanks to the support and partnership of:
- Timber & Stone, LLC
- Outdoor Gear Exchange
- Dunkiel Saunders Elliott Raubvogel & Hand
- Northwoods Stewardship Center
- Vermont River Conservancy Board
- Hermit Woods Trail Builders, LLC
- AARP of Vermont
- Trust for Public Land
- Vermont Land Trust
- North Branch Nature Center
- Vermont Housing & Conservation Board
- Department of Environmental Conservation Ecosystems Restoration Grant
- Vermont Fish & Wildlife Watershed Grant
- Vermont Forest Parks and Recreation Recreation Trails Program
- Canute Dalmasse Legacy Fund
- Carl Taylor
- Swimming Hole Fund
- Women’s Giving Circle of Central Vermont
From the North (Lake Elmore): Drive 8-miles south on Route 12. The pull-off for the north parking area is on the left. There are two other parking areas to the south as well, if this one is full.
From the South (Worcester): Drive Route 12 north for 6 miles to the northernmost parking area, on your right.
Note that there are three parking areas. We encourage people to start from the northern trailhead because it is the largest. All parking areas are plowed for winter access.