Bailey Falls

Bailey Falls

Overview: A wild falls just a short distance from the road.
Location: Hancock, VT
Stream  : Robbins Branch of the White River
Height  : 50 feet (estimate) in two drops.
Finding : No landmarks, but close to the road.
Access  : Moderate. Short hike with bushwacking.
Swimming: A small pool below the lower falls would be nice for splashing.
Basking : Some spots, but the falls is well forested and not too sunny.
Legal   : Uncertain.


From Hancock

Starting at the junctions of route 100 and route 125 in the middle of Hancock (0.0 miles), follow route 125 west toward Middlebury. The road is clear and easy to follow as it follows the Hancock Branch of the White River. After some distance, the road passes the entrance to Texas Falls. At 5.5 miles the road turns to the right and begins climbing earnestly into Middlebury Gap. At that point a guard rail starts on the left side of the road. Just before the guard rail there is a small, unmarked turnout where you should park. This spot is near the base of one of the ski lifts of the Middlebury Snow Bowl ski area. However, there are no signs of any kind.

Bailey Falls

From the turnout, walk down the embankment toward the stream and toward the ski area. You should see a small, wooden bridge across the stream that I assume is maintained by the ski area for their purposes. Cross the bridge and walk up the gentle rise on the other side to a small building at the base of the ski trails. Walk to the left along the edge of the ski trail for about 30 or 40 yards.

At any point along this walk you can cut into the woods and strike toward the stream that runs parallel to the ski trail. However, if you follow the ski trail you will shortly come to an obscure, overgrown road that leads into the woods. If you follow that road you will quickly come to the stream just a little ways above the main falls. There is no bridge, but the stream is fairly easy to cross. In this way you can scramble downstream to view the falls from either side.

It is only a short distance from the ski trail to the falls. You should be able to hear the falls from the ski trail -- particularly in high water. However, the falls have cut a ravine that is tricky to climb down. The walls of the ravine are not sheer, but they are very steep. Do not attempt climbing down them unless you are comfortable with such hiking. There are no trails or signs; you are on your own when you approach these falls. Despite the ravine, however, the falls are still quite approachable. The terrain by the falls themselves is easier. If you cut in from the ski trail too early, you may want to walk upstream a little before getting close to the water. The other side is not so steep. You can also cross the stream above the falls and hike down the other side to approach the falls.

From Middlebury Gap

Follow route 125 east for 0.9 miles. On the right side of the road a guard rail will end and there will be a small, unmarked turnout just after the rail. This is the same turnout mentioned above. Park at this turnout and follow the directions above to the falls.


Sometimes the most beautiful things are in spots that nobody seems to know about. Bailey Falls is one of those things. This dramatic and beautiful waterfall is not marked and has no trails approaching it. Yet it is only a few yards away from one of Vermont's major highways. No doubt countless thousands of people have passed right by these falls without knowing they were there. When the leaves are off the trees, it is possible to see these falls from the road, but only just barely. I've caught a couple of glimpses of the falls as I've driven from Middlebury to Hancock, but it is difficult to see them even when you know just where to look. In the summer it is impossible to see the falls from the road.

Bailey Falls

Approaching Bailey Falls is not trivial. The distance is short, but the route is rugged. I've come up from below, but I had to ford a moderately large stream (the falls are on a tributary of the stream that parallels the road) and push through a fair amount of brush. I've approached the falls from the nearby ski trail, but I had to scramble down the steep embankment of the ravine bordering the stream. This entailed slidding down wet, slippery leaves on the seat of my pants using trees to stop my fall. I've also approached the falls from above, hiking well up and around to find suitable crossing and a moderate slope to the stream. Don't try to approach these falls if you aren't willing to do a little scrambling in the woods.

The effort to see these falls is well worth it. They are far more dramatic and beautiful, in my opinion, than the popular and nearby Texas Falls. The small stream that powers the falls begins by spurting over a rocky lip some fifty feet above the bottom of the falls. The water pours down a rocky chute and then changes direction to flow over a large outcropping in a wide, lacy curtain. There are a number of open rocky spots below the falls from which you can get a very excellent view. It is also possible to approach the falls closely at a point between the upper and lower sections.

Below the main falls the stream pours over a couple of minor drops as it passes between the steep walls of a small ravine. One of those minor drops has a small, shallow pool at the bottom that might be fun to splash around in. However, the area is heavily shaded and probably buggy during the warm times of the year. Also there probably wouldn't be enough water in the stream late in the year to make "swimming" possible.

The stream above the falls has another small drop into a large pool that is very interesting and pleasent. On the far side of the pool from the falls there is a small, rocky "beach" that would make a wonderful place to sit in the sun and read, write, or picnic. Although this little drop is not nearly as impressive as the main falls, it is still a very nice spot.

Bailey Falls


Saturday, May 17, 1997

I was looking for something to do today and decided to visit these falls. The water was high, but not excessively so. The air was cool, and the sun played about the clouds. The falls were very beautiful and impressive. I scrambled down the ravine from the ski trail and jumped across the stream with moderate difficulty. From a rocky spot well below the falls I was able to gaze up at them in their fullness. With the sun on the white water, and the blue sky overhead, the view was truely stunning. What a fine waterfall!

I climbed up alongside the falls and spent quite a bit of time just sitting next to the stream watching and listening to the water. Nobody else interrupted my time there. I even spent some time with the small falls upstream from the main falls. It was a great day to visit Bailey Falls.

Sunday, May 12, 1996

The water was very high today -- mostly due to rain. On my way home from visiting my friend Kim I decided to stop and see how Bailey Falls was doing.

The first odd thing was the snow. It was snowing steadily inMiddlebury Gap where there was even an accumulation of about one inch. Such is the nature of spring in Vermont. The ground was soggy, however, because it has been warm for the last few weeks.

I knew I wasn't going to be able to cross the stream as John and I had done last year on account of the high water. So I walked a short way up one of the Middlebury Snow Bowl ski area trails and then cut into the woods at a point about even with the falls. This approach worked very well. In short order I came out right at falls about midway from the base to the top. It was awesome!

I hadn't properly appreciated last year how impressive these falls are. John and I approached from below and we only really bothered to get a good look at the lower falls. However the upper falls are every bit as large and interesting as the lower ones. In a sense John and I only saw half the waterfall last year.

I climbed out onto a rocky prominence and sat for a while in the damp breeze flowing off the falls. It was wet and cold, but also exhilarating. Afterwards I scrambled up to the top of the falls just to be sure that I wasn't missing anything else. A short ways upstream there was, in fact, another small drop. But compared to the falls below it was pretty insignificant.

Saturday May 27, 1995

I visited these falls with my friend, John.

From the turn-off a little ways below Middlebury Gap we walked into the woods. Right by the road there was a small stream flowing down from the gap. However, the falls were not on that stream. Instead they were on a tributary that flowed into the stream on the other side. The leaves had just recently come out so it took a little looking before we noticed the falls through the trees.

The falls themselves were very nice. The water formed a graceful curtain that draped down over a rock outcropping. The stream that flowed over the falls was not too large so was it easy to climb up on the rocks right next to the falls. Surrounding the falls were lots of fern and moss. The scene was very peaceful.

Highly recommended -- if you don't mind a little bushwacking.

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© Copyright 1998 by Peter Chapin.
Last Revised: February 27, 1998