Overview: Impressive waterfall. One of Vermont's best. Location: Jamaica, VT Stream : Cobb Brook Height : 100 feet overall? Not a single drop. Finding : Bring a good map. See my references. Access : Short hike. Steep slopes. Swimming: Maybe in the pool at the bottom. Basking : Some spots, but the ground is quite steep. Legal : Public land.
From the Vermont Route 30
Starting in the center of Townshend at the junction of Vermont Routes 30 and 35 (0.0mi/0.0km) drive west on route 30 to West Townshend (4.6mi/7.4km). Turn north onto the paved Windham Hill Road. At 9.0mi/14.4km turn left onto the unpaved Burbees Pond Road. After a short distance this road turns to the right and comes to Burbees Pond. Just before the pond at 9.9mi/15.8km turn left onto West Windham Road. This road skirts the edge of the pond and soon turns to the south. There are a couple of side roads that turn off West Windham Road, but you should follow the main route in each case. Eventually the road becomes quite narrow and it may be in poor condition at certain times of the year. At 12.8mi/20.5km, shortly after a sharp right turn, you will come to an informal parking area on the left just across from what looks like a small sawmill. There aren't any signs by the road. However, if you come to a stream crossing you have gone too far.
From the parking area walk directly into the woods and in a few yards you will see the stream to your right and in front of you. Down by the stream's edge is a sign warning you not to swim in the falls and reminding you of the people who have died trying it. From there you can scamble down the side of the falls to the best viewing location at the bottom. It is very steep and inclined to be slippery. Please exercise caution! There is no trail.
Alternatively, a few yards east along the road from the parking area there is a trail that leads to the falls. The junction between the trail and the road is a bit obscure and is unmarked. It is located in a dip in the road maybe 50 yards from the parking area. This trail leaves the south side of the road and soon becomes quite obvious. It descends gradually with the stream and falls some distance to the right. A hundred yards or so from the road there is an obvious sign that points down a blue blazed side trail that leads back upstream to the base of the falls. This approach is a bit longer, but much less difficult than the direct scramble down the side of the falls.
I understand that these falls can also be approached by trail from Jamaica State Park. I have not tried that so I can't comment on what it is like. However, judging from the map I would say that such an approach would require at least two miles of hiking one way.
This is an impressive waterfall! In high water it is an awesome sight. In low water it is still graceful and interesting. The waters of Cobb Brook first flow into a couple of deep, circular pools at the top of the falls. Although they make tempting swimming holes, I don't think swimming there would be very wise. Immediately after flowing out of the lower pool, the stream slids down a steep rock face and then leaps out into space for a free fall of at least 15 feet or more. At the bottom of that free fall, the stream slams into a rock wall and sprays in all directions. There it gathers itself again and flows down over another steep, undulating rock face into the pool at the bottom of the falls.
The rock by the falls has been eroded into many odd shapes that dramatically display the power of water to cut and smooth solid rock. When the water in the stream is low it is possible to scramble out onto the rocks and get many interesting views of the stream's channel. If you do this please exercise extreme caution. The terrian around Hamilton Falls is very steep and rugged. One slip could have disastrous consequences!
The best overall view of the falls is from the bottom. There, on the far side of the lower pool, you can look up at the entire falls and take in the majestic sight in one view. The picture at the top of this page was taken from that spot. Although the scramble to the bottom of the falls can be difficult and time consuming, it is well worth it. The views along the edge of the falls are interesting, but not nearly as all encompassing as the view from the bottom.
Today my daughter Hillary, her dog Priscylla, and I visited these falls. Hillary saw them back in early 1995, but didn't get a chance at that time to really get a good look at them. Today we had all the time in the world and we carefully picked our way to the bottom of the falls for a proper look. The water was very low. It flowed over the lower rock face in only two narrow streams. The pool at the bottom of the falls was almost still and it was possible to stand on rocks near the bottom that during my earlier visits had been totally covered with raging white water.
There were several people at the falls today. Although I wouldn't say it was crowded, it's not exactly a secluded location either. Today was a nice fall weekend day and there were two or three cars in the parking area besides ours.
It was a beautiful fall day: clear, cool, and with lots of nice color about. A few days earlier we had a major rain storm so the rivers were all running high. Yet, unlike during my previous visit, I was able to climb all the way down to the bottom of the falls. From there I got a full view of the entire waterfall. I have to say that Hamiliton Falls may be the most awesome falls I've yet seen in Vermont!
I visited this waterfall with my daughter Hillary. We didn't have much time there because we were on the way to meet Hillary's mother and we were late. In addition, the weather was poor. It was raining. The wet rocks and leaves made climbing around the falls difficult.
As a result of the poor footing, we didn't get the best views in the world. However, what we did see was impressive. First the stream filled a large, deep pothole. Then it dropped over a 20 foot fall into what appeared to be another large pothole. The second pothole emptied into a narrow channel that dropped steeply another 30 feet or more. We will have to come back some time to get a proper look.
If you are in the Jamaica area, be sure to also check out Pike's Falls nearby.
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