West River Trail and Hamilton Falls
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:48 Salmon Hole Lane, Jamaica
Hours:10 a.m.–sunset, May 9 through Columbus Day weekend
Fee: $3 adults, $2 children ages 4–14

Jamaica State Park, 802-874-4600, vtstateparks.com/htm/jamaica.htm; Friends of the West River Trail, westrivertrail.org

Bathrooms: At Jamaica State Park Campground
Water/Snacks: At Jamaica State Park Campground

After biking along the scenic West River, a peaceful woodland hike leads you to the base of 125-foot Hamilton Falls, and a swimming hole in the West River awaits your return.

This trip combines three great activities into one awesome day: biking along West River Trail to Hamilton Falls Trail, then hiking to Hamilton Falls, then swimming in the refreshing Salmon Hole on your way back. Mountain and hybrid bikes will serve you best on the gravel trail.

From the parking area, continue on to West River Trail which is managed by the Friends of the West River Trail. Their mission is to complete and maintain this 36-mile trail, which follows the route of a historic rail line that ran here at the turn of the nineteenth century. Many sections are complete; others are still in development. (Check the Friends’ website for full details.) The section described here is complete and nicely graded as it follows the contour of the West River. Along the 2.0 miles to Hamilton Falls Trail, there are many spots to stop and play in the river or cast a line for fish.

Hamilton Falls Trail joins on your right, just before the bridge over Cobb Brook. Lock your bikes to a tree and head off up Hamilton Falls Trail on foot. Your young ones will feel as if they are on an epic adventure while using multiple means of transportation to reach their destination. At 1.1 miles, the short and steep trail reaches a spur trail to the falls; turn left here.

Hamilton Falls is one of the most spectacular of Vermont’s hundreds of waterfalls. Over the course of its 125-foot plummet, it has created numerous potholes, gorges, and a great wading pool at the base with plenty of sunshine and a great picnic spot. We highly discourage families with young children from venturing above the lower pool; the rocks and pools above are very steep, slippery, and can be quite dangerous.

Returning the way you came, grab your bikes and head back to the campground. Take a dip in the Salmon Hole, which is just off of the parking area where you started. Look for the stairs leading down to the river, and a lazy pool with a sandy beach and sunny lounging on a hot summer day.

Plan B:

The campground at Jamaica State Park has a nice playground so stop by for a few minutes of outdoor fun. Many trips are nearby (Trips 51, 52, 54, and 55), making this park an excellent place to use as base camp for your southern Vermont explorations.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Brattleboro is surprisingly cosmopolitan and has a wide variety of eating establishments, pubs, and delis, and Jamaica has a small assortment of restaurants and stores, and a coffee house.


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