By Tara Schatz, Back Road Ramblers.
Southern Vermont’s hot, steamy summers often require a mid-afternoon dip, and the local rivers and streams are ideal for cooling off in. If you’re seeking relief from the heat or a spot to while away the afternoon, there’s a Southern Vermont swimming hole with your name on it.
Living in New England’s only landlocked state, Vermonters have long had an affinity for soaking in the rivers and streams that run down from the mountains. Swimming holes in Southern Vermont tend to be more shallow than in the northern part of the state, but they offer plenty of opportunities to cool off when the temperatures soar.
When swimming in local rivers, be mindful of potentially strong currents, and inspect the depth of any pools before jumping off rocks or cliffs.
West Dummerston Covered Bridge: Dummerston, Vermont
The West Dummerston Covered Bridge is the longest covered bridge entirely within the state of Vermont, and it’s worth checking out even if you don’t plan on swimming underneath it.
Park in a small lot next to the bridge entrance and walk down stone steps to the West River. There is a very nice gravel beach, and the swimming is awesome in July and August when the current is lazy and the sun is hot.
Salmon Hole: Jamaica State Park, Vermont
Salmon Hole is one of several deep swimming spots in the West River that you can access from Jamaica State Park. Spend a day exploring the river, the West River Rail Trail, and nearby Hamilton Falls, or book a lean-to for the weekend, and spend a few days unplugging.
In the summer, this part of the West River is slow-moving, clear, and plenty deep enough for swimming. If you bring goggles, you can even watch the large trout meandering along the bottom.
The Dorset Quarry: Dorset, Vermont
The only swimming hole on this list that isn’t in a river, the Dorset Quarry is one of the most popular swimming holes in all of Southern Vermont. The quarry opened in 1785 as the country’s first commercial marble quarry and supplied marble for building the New York Public Library, several amazing mansions in NYC, and the Memorial Continental Hall in Washington, D.C.
The water here is deep and cold, and there are plenty of places for cliff jumping, picnicking and relaxing. There are a few port-a-potties. Visitors will need to pay to park, at least on the weekends.
The Tubs: Pownal, Vermont
This beloved local swimming hole is in North Pownal and includes two small pools, under small waterfall cascades, that are deep enough to swim. The area is incredibly scenic, but the hike down to the falls requires a bit of scrambling, making it a challenge for small children or folks with limited mobility.
The Tubs can get busy on hot summer afternoons. If you want to avoid the crowds, opt for an early morning swim on a weekday.
Arlington Green Covered Bridge: Arlington, Vermont
One of Vermont’s most photographed covered bridges, the Arlington Green Covered Bridge is part of a pastoral landscape of an almost forgotten era. The bridge was built in 1852, and along with the local church and a historic inn nearby, is often featured on Vermont postcards and calendars. There are a few picnic tables sprinkled about and excellent swimming underneath the bridge.
After cooling off in the Battenkill, stroll down the road to Rockwell’s Retreat, a historic inn that was built in 1792. The view of the bridge from in front of the inn is the very same that Norman Rockwell enjoyed in the decade he lived here from 1943 to 1953.
Tara Schatz is a full-time freelance writer and travel blogger who aspires to earn a living while wander-ing in the woods of Vermont. She currently writes from a little blue house in Bennington and enjoys maple lattes, gardening, and making friends with every dog she comes across.