update July 13, 2020: the Dorset Quarry is closed until further notice.
Vermont swimming holes hold a special place in the heart of locals and visitors.. If you’re looking for a place to jump off rocks or wade in shallow waters, Vermont is home to dozens of swimming holes.
For centuries, Vermont swimming holes have drawn visitors from near and far. Visitors to the state in the late 1700s and early 1800s came because of mineral springs throughout the area. People would travel hundreds of miles as many believed that the natural swimming holes and springs in Vermont had healing powers that could rejuvenate, relax, and refresh city dwellers, according to a 2011 UVM environmental studies thesis by Elijah Sobel.
Whether or not you believe in Vermont water’s healing powers, Vermont swimming holes sure have a way of soothing the soul.
Here are 6 Vermont Swimming Holes to Explore:
Buttermilk Falls in Ludlow
Buttermilk Falls is a perfect swimming hole—it’s close to downtown Ludlow, yet it feels a million miles away. The falls are ideal for kids, families, and anyone looking to cool off in a beautiful setting. Buttermilk Falls features waterfalls and shallow and deeper pools, as well as easy access. Buttermilk Falls, located in the Okemo State Forest, was adopted by Okemo Mountain Resort in 2013.
Getting there: Buttermilk Falls Road is located directly across Route 103 from the turn to Okemo’s Jackson Gore. Follow Buttermilk Falls Road for about a half-mile. You’ll see an information kiosk and short trail through the woods on your right. Parking along Buttermilk Falls Road is available.
Lareau Farm Swimming Hole in Waitsfield
Just off Route 100 is the Lareau Farm Swimming Hole in the Mad River, an ideal spot for families and kids. You can relax on a sandy beach, wade into the river, or climb up rocks and jump into deeper water. Lareau is not as secluded or as adrenaline-filled as Warren Falls, which features small, cascading waterfalls surrounded by cliffs and carved rocks. Still, Lareau is an easy, mellow, and beautiful place to take a dip. Afterward, have dinner at nearby American Flatbread at Lareau Farm.
Getting there: The Lareau Swimming Hole is located on Route 100 south of Waitsfield. Parking is available.
Bartlett Falls in Bristol
Bartlett Falls in Bristol is a 15-foot waterfall located in one of the prettiest settings. Situated along the New Haven River off Lincoln Road, this swimming hole is perfect for adventure-seekers and families. You’ll find rocks to jump from as well as quieter spots suitable for kids.
Getting there: Bartlett Falls is located on Lincoln Road, just off Route 116 in Bristol. Parking is limited.
Ranch Brook in Stowe
The Ranch Brook is on the Adam’s Camp property, which includes 513 acres of forest conserved by the Stowe Land Trust. The river is ideal for cooling off, and nearby recreation trails are open for biking and hiking—giving you the best Vermont has to offer.
Getting there: Head north on Route 108 and travel about 5 miles before turning left onto Ranch Brook Road. Park before the Adams Camp Bridge at the end of the road.
Dummerston Covered Bridge
Just off Route 30 next to the Dummerston Covered Bridge is a popular swimming hole in the West River. This spot has shallow pools as well as deeper areas to give you the best of both worlds. The nicest part? Views of a beautifully restored covered bridge right above the river. At 271 feet long and 22 feet wide, it’s the longest still operational covered bridge in Vermont.
Getting there: Located 7 miles from Brattleboro, the Dummerston Covered Bridge is located just off Route 30. Parking is available.
Mined in 1785, the Dorset Quarry on Route 30 is the oldest marble quarry in the United States. The stone from the marble quarry was used to build the main branch of the New York Public Library and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It’s now a famous, 60-foot-deep swimming hole that draws visitors from all over. There aren’t shallow areas to wade in, so this particular place is best for seasoned swimmers. The quarry is privately owned, and a Go Fund Me page has been set up to help pay for the future maintenance and safety features of the Dorset Quarry.
Getting there: From Manchester, take Route 30 north about six miles. Parking is available just past the quarry on the right. (Photo: Dorset Marble Quarry/Facebook)
What are your favorite Vermont swimming holes?