Dog's Head Falls
Overview: Small but interesting falls. Location: Johnson, VT Stream : Lamoille River Height : Low Finding : Not difficult if you know where to look. No signs. Access : A few yards from the road. Swimming: Possibly in the river below the falls, but probably not. Basking : Yes, many places. Privacy : None Legal : Uncertain
These falls are in the Lamoille River as it flows through Johnson. Actually, I had to cross the river and drive along a back road for a little ways before I came to the falls. There was no sign, but there is a turn off and I was able to just see the falls from the road as I approached.
The spot was rather unusual. Most of the land around was relatively flat. However, suddenly there was a ridge of rock that cut across the river and ran for what looked like quite a ways in either direction. At the point where this ridge met the river, there was an unusual rock formation that resembles a dog's head overhanging the flow. The resemblance was easy to see because someone had painted an eye on it at the appropriate spot. In fact, the whole location looked like a favorite party spot for the residents of Johnson. I noticed a couple of fire pits about, and there was some graffiti painted on the rocks.
The falls were interesting because of the volume of water that goes over them. It wasn't to be compared with Niagara, of course, but the entire Lamoille River is a lot more water than I usually see going over a waterfall. The falls were not very high but there was a lot of churning and frothing as the river narrowed to a channel only a few feet wide.
A reader of this page sent me some additional information about the area around Dog's Head Falls. Apparently about 200 yards downstream there is a natural bridge formation that crosses the river. Evidently the entire flow of the river goes under this bridge when the water level is low. If you're in the area of Dog's Head Falls, be sure to look for this interesting geological feature as well.
This is the first time I visited a waterfall for this web site in many years!
The latest DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for Vermont no longer marks the location of Dog's Head Falls. To find it, start in the center of Johnson and take Railroad Street south out of town. Immediately after crossing the Lamoille River, turn left onto River Road. The road stays near the river for a while and then climbs a hill. It continues along and above the river and then gradually returns to the river's level. Shortly after the road crosses the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail there is a turn-out on the left (north) side of the road. Park at the turn-out and then walk across the Rail Trail following obvious paths to the falls.
I'm not sure of the legal status of these falls. There are no signs prohibiting access and plenty of evidence that many people visit them. I assume access is allowed.
Nobody else was visiting the falls today, and I was there in the late afternoon giving the location a serene, quiet feeling. There was some litter and graffiti but not as much as I recall from 20 years ago. Overall the location seemed to be in good shape. The painted eye on the "dog" was gone.
The falls were much as I remembered them: a place where the entire Lamoille River churns through a narrow gap in a vein of resistant rock. There is lots of evidence around of a time when the river was higher, working on rock that is now far above the current water line.
In addition to the picture at the top of this page I took the following pictures. The first is a view across the river from beside the top of the falls showing how the tranquil Lamoille transitions into the raging flow squeezed between the rocks. The second picture is of the "dog's head" from which the falls are named. The picture at the top of this page was taken while standing on that head!
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