Overview: A dramatic waterfall high on the side of Camel's Hump. Location: Duxbury, VT Stream : Hump Brook Height : 100 feet (estimate) in two drops. Finding : Unmarked side trail. Access : Requires hiking most of the way up Camel's Hump. Swimming: No. Basking : Excellent. Legal : Camel's Hump State Park.
From the East
You want to ascend Camel's Hump on the Forestry Trail. This trail leaves the Couching Lion Farm site on the east side of the mountain. Any book containing trail descriptions of the Camel's Hump trail system should provide directions to that spot. I provide rough directions below.
Follow VT route 100 south out of Waterbury, VT. Almost immdiately after turning off of US route 2, turn right onto River Road. There is an informal sign there for the "Camel's Hump Trails." The road follows the Winooski River for some distance. After perhaps four miles (not measured) you will need to turn left, away from the river. This turn is also marked with an informal sign about "Camel's Hump Trails." The turn occurs in North Duxbury, but there is not much there so you could easily miss it.
Follow this new road several more miles until it ends. It will veer to the right and become quite narrow just before ending. There is plenty of parking, however, since this is a major trail head for climbs on Camel's Hump. On the weekend when there is good weather you may have trouble finding a parking spot only because of the large number of cars that will be there. Plan to arrive early on such days.
Take the Forestry Trail up the mountain. After about 1.3 miles the Dean Trail comes in on the left. Take the right fork to continue on the Forestry Trail. At about 2 miles the trail approaches a small stream on the left. It will cross this stream a bit farther up, but you don't want to go that far. As soon as you seem to be close to the stream, start looking for an unmarked, but well worn side trail on the left. This trail descends the short distance to the stream and then follows the stream a few yards to a spectacular overlook. The trail is a bit overgrown, but it is quite short. You can almost see the overlook through the trees from the main trail.
When you reach the overlook, you have arrived at the falls. This fact will be quite obvious when you get there!
The small stream that flows over the falls is called Hump Brook in the Green Mountain Club's Guide Book of the Long Trail. I have not yet seen that name printed on any map. It is a good name, however, so I will use it.
In any case, the stream tumbles down a rough, but accessible channel and then, at the overlook I mentioned above, launches itself over a dramatic cliff. It drops about 50 feet in a single fall to a wide rock shelf below. There it collects itself again and flows over another 50 foot drop into the forest below.
The view from the overlook is worth taking in for its own merits. The bulk of the mountain rises up at your back and before you is a large bowl filled with wild forest. The hills of the Green Mountains march away into the distance. To get a better view of the falls, you need to scramble down the cliff to the rock shelf below. This is difficult. Do not attempt to do this unless you are a very experienced hiker/climber. Beside the stream the ground is not sheer and it is covered thickly with scrubby trees. It is thus possible to pick a way down to the rock shelf by holding on to the tree trunks and forcing your way through the brush. It is not particularly fun.
At the rock shelf, the footing is good and comfortable. The view of the falls at that point is spectacular. They tower above you and are right next to you. It is easy to imagine stepping under them the way you might step into a shower (although I expect that the force of the water after falling that distance would be considerable). That spot allows you to get up very close and personal with the waterfall.
I have never attempted to find a way down the second cliff to the forest floor below. I would imagine that the falls would be quite spectacular from that location. From the bottom you would be able to see both drops, one on top of the other, in the same view and I'm sure it would be lovely.
I have no photographs of these falls. The two times I have visited them in my life have both been times without my camera. I would expect that getting a good photograph would be difficult. The view of the falls from the overlook is poor: at that point you are standing right at the upper lip of the drop. The view of the falls from the rock shelf, while spectacular, is very close to the water and might be hard to capture properly on film. Furthermore it would only really be half the waterfall. A proper photograph, it seems to me, would have to be taken from the bottom and that would be a difficult descent to make while laden with camera equipment.
This is a very fine waterfall, and yet it does not seem to be widely known. There is no mention of it in any of the hiking guide books that I have, nor is it marked on any map that I've seen. I discovered it by accident some years ago while hiking with my friend, Sarah.
Today my friend Peter Nikolaidis and I climbed Camel's Hump by way of the Forestry Trail. Naturally I told him that we should stop and see these falls and he agreed. The weather was perfect. It was cool, but not cold, and it was clear. The sky was a deep blue and the trees, approaching their height of color, where yellow and gold.
To get to the falls themselves we had to push through some underbrush and then walk a short distance in the stream itself. It was totally beautiful. The crystal clear water of the stream poured over some moss covered rocks into a few shallow pools. There were yellow leaves all about. It seemed peaceful and calming. We sat on the rocks above the falls and took in the view and the sound of the rushing water. Despite this being a rather dry season, there was still enough water in the stream to make things interesting.
We did not try to scramble down the side of the falls today.
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