Quiet Places to Sit By a Stream
Many people visit Vermont State Parks for an escape from their busy lives and noise of urban areas. They come to the park to relax, take in nature, and find a peaceful spot to rest. The sound of bubbling brook or trickling stream gives many folks the perfect setting to shut their eyes, take a deep breath, and be calm. Vermont is lucky to have large parcels of undeveloped and protected land which preserve these quiet places. Below are the best spots....but, shhhh, don't tell too many of your friends about them. We want to keep them on the quiet side.
Lake Carmi: Sucker Brook
Near the entrance of the nature trail, you can access Sucker Brook. It
twists and bubbles around two old farm sites then snakes through a group of hemlock. You can sit along its banks or skip stones in the calmer pools. The beauty of this gem is that around the 1st of May you can stand on the foot bridge (fifty yards from the nature trail sign) and enjoy the sucker fish running up the brook from Lake Carmi on their spring spawning run. Whether you want to watch the fish or just listen to the running stream of water, Sucker Brook is a place to explore and relax.
An unnamed brook can be found running parallel up the Mountain Road, to the west of Underhill State Park. You can access many quiet spots along this brook by going off trail to the left, after passing through the orange park gates beyond the upper parking lot. It's about a 10-15 min hike down to the babbling water. Once there, you'll see how it meanders through the lush green forested vegetation of Mt. Mansfield. The stream passes by the north side of the campground, protected by a steep sided valley. Pick a mossy cobbled place anywhere along here to spend an hour or more.
Little River: Stevenson Brook
Stevenson Brook flows along the nature trail with convenient parking at the trail head. In spring and early summer, you will notice a briskly moving ice cold brook, but as the season moves on the water slows to a babble. Rays of sunlight filter through the dense canopy and make it the perfect spot to read or spend the afternoon exploring. You may find beavers, a variety of birds, and many different kinds of wildflowers and ferns.
Ricker Pond: Wells River
Generally a rapid stream, the Wells River provides a great amount of places for swimming, paddling, and fishing, but also serene spots for contemplation. Explore all along the river by stopping at one of many pull-offs along Route 302 between Groton and the Town of Wells River. This river has its source at Kettle Pond and runs southeast for about two miles (Stillwater Brook) and falls into Groton Lake. From Groton Lake it continues over Groton Dam. The river in between this dam and Ricker Pond is a popular spot to stroll, wade in the water, or picnic. Where the river flows over Ricker Dam at the south end, there is a popular spot to swim, paddle or fish. Parking is available at this location. From the south end of Ricker Pond the river continues a mile and a half and meets up with the South Branch. It travels east and meets up with the main stream; it then runs southeast for about a mile and receives the North Branch. Continuing the same course it passes through Ryegate and Newbury on its way to the Connecticut River.
Groton Forest: Beaver Brook
Just north of Ricker Pond State Park is a multi–use State Forest Road on the east side of Route 232. Beaver Brook runs roughly parallel to this dirt road. The trailhead for Silver Ledge is also located down this road. Beaver Brook is a slow running stream, with the potential to spot an abundance of wildlife. Moose, deer, turkeys, hawks and ravens are just a few of what you might see.
Groton Forest: Depot Brook
Depot Brook can be accessed by the Cross Cut Trail or Depot Brook Road. To reach the Cross Cut Trail, start on the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail ½ mile north of Ricker Pond State Park. Continue west .1 miles; cross Route 232 where you can proceed to the intersection of Depot Road. To access Depot Brook Road, proceed down Beaver Brook Road, past Silver Ledge Trail to a turn off onto Depot Brook Road on the left. There is no official trail to Depot Brook. Bush Whacking to this slow running stream is the only option. Again, there is the potential to view an abundance of wildlife.
Groton Forest: Stillwater Brook
This brook starts at the outlet of Kettle Pond and eventually travels through Stillwater State Park and into Lake Groton. Parking is available at the Kettle Pond Day Use parking lot. Directly across from the Kettle Pond Campground is a trail leading to the Montpelier/Wells River Rail Trail and a view of Stillwater Brook. Once on the Rail Trail look to your left and you can view a small cascade from the wooden bridge. The rest of the stream is mainly accessible by bush whacking. Where it crosses the Boulder Beach Road and into Stillwater Campground, there is a view of the stream with Owl’s Head and Big Deer Mountains in the background. The swampy area right in front has been an excellent moose viewing area.
Groton Forest: Coldwater Brook
Coldwater Brook can be accessed from the trail systems originating at the Groton Forest Nature Center. Coldwater Brook originates from Peacham Pond and eventually dumps into Lake Groton. The Coldwater Brook trail parallels the stream for a short distance. As the name implies, this relatively fast moving stream is very cold. You can access from the trail a number of small pools in which to wade if you have the courage. For history buffs, the remnants of a stone foundation to an old mill can be seen. It is believed to be a small up-and-down sawmill which operated before the Civil War.
Groton Forest: Hosmer Brook
Hosmer Brook may be accessed from the Hosmer Brook Trail. Parking is available at the Groton Nature Center. Hosmer Brook runs from the outlet of Osmore Pond approximately 2 miles to Lake Groton. This quiet stream can be accessed midway along the Hosmer Brook hiking trail. There are numerous places to relax by this slow moving stream, while enjoying the quiet woods.
Seyon Lodge: South Branch Wells River
Seyon Lodge is located three miles down Seyon Pond Road in Groton. The South Branch of the Wells River originates where Noyes Pond spills over the dam. After checking in with staff at Seyon Lodge, take a short walk to the pond and off to the right you will see the dam. Fishing is not allowed in any of Noyes Pond’s tributaries, however hiking and picnicking are popular activities.
Bomoseen: The north end of Glen Lake
Walk the trail starting from the Glen Lake information board on Moscow Road, just north of the Bomoseen State Park contact station. Stop along the way at one of the points where the trail touches the shore or walk about 1600 meters to the crossing at the north end of Glen Lake. This stroll will be quiet as long as the slates mines in the industry don't start up again.
Button Bay: Button Point
Follow the trail west along Lake Champlain for about 10 minutes. You’ll see the nature center once you’re close. A trail from the nature center to the lake leads you to a set of large rocks on the water. This is a quiet spot where the lapping water comes over the rocky shore. Some fish from this point, but we think it's even better for laying on a warm rock and taking in some rays. *Note: Please stay on designated trails as there are sensitive species and rare plants in the area.
DAR: Observation Deck on Lake Champlain
Just beyond the playground, follow a trail to the stairs leading to D.A.R.’s Observation Deck. This area leads to a quiet rocky beach where the sounds of the lake waves and wildlife surround you.
Emerald Lake: South end of Emerald Lake
Walk from the day use beach around the lake on the trail to the point where water flows out about 1000 meters. Relax in this spot and take in the wildlife. Look for ducks and beavers, especially in early morning hours.
Woodford: East end of Adams Reservoir
Hike from the day use beach along the south side of reservoir for about 1000 meters. This peaceful area has sounds of lapping water and wildlife. Find a spot to sit, close your eyes, and listen.
Mt. Ascutney: Crystal Cascade Falls
The eighty-foot falls can be accessed by parking at the Weathersfield Trail trailhead off of Route 131 on Cascade Falls Road. From the Mt. Ascutney State Park office, go 2.3 miles south on Route 44A and Route 5 to intersection with Route 131. Turn west on Route 131 and go 3.5 miles to intersection with Cascade Falls Road, turn north on Cascade Falls Road, follow signs to trail head. Hike 1.2 miles and you're there! This incredible spot is a great place to sit and listen to the thunder of the falling water. The view is actually quite good from the base of the falls, but this requires a difficult bushwhack down a very steep slope. The falls are primarily surface flow, and water flow is minimal unless there is significant rain.
Camp Plymouth: Buffalo Brook
Buffalo Brook runs through the park , a few hundred feet south of the park entrance, and flows between the picnic pavilions and the group camping area. A short hike on the east side of Scout Camp Road behind the rental cottages leads along old logging roads which parallel the brook, providing a very scenic natural experience. Despite its proximity to Camp Plymouth’s popular beach and day use area, a short stroll along the banks of Buffalo Brook allows visitors to enjoy the sights and sounds of the stream and the nature that surrounds it, in peace and quiet. Enjoy this one!
Coolidge: Whetstone Brook
Turn left on Ranger Road, approximately 0.3 mile north of the park entrance. There is a small parking area near a wooden snowmobile bridge that crosses the brook. Whetstone Brook is a small stream off the beaten path which makes for a calm place to relax and let the water run over your toes.
Gifford Woods: Thunder Falls
To access these falls, travel about one mile east of the park along the Appalachian Trail. You can also access the falls by a newly constructed boardwalk off of Thunder Brook Road. This cascade down a rocky slope is surrounded by forest. Work your way along the stream that comes from the falls to lead you to Kent Pond.
Jamaica: Cobb Brook, Hamilton Falls, and sections of the West River Trail
Although a little more popular than some of the other brooks and streams listed, Cobb Brook and sections of the West River Trail can be perfectly peaceful if timed right.
A 2.5-mile section of the West River Trail begins at the parking lot in the park’s day-use area. The trail is a converted railroad bed which runs parallel to the river. Universally accessible and very popular with walkers, joggers and bikers, this trail gives all ages a chance to enjoy. Look for “The Dumplings,” a group of large boulders
about 1 mile up the trail. Follow the trail for another 1.5 miles to reach Cobb Brook. At the 2-mile mark the trail intersects with the Hamilton Falls Trail. Follow this 1.1 miles to the base of the 125-foot cascade that is Hamilton Falls.
For a better chance of having the place to yourself, try going on a weekday.
Molly Stark: Beaver Brook
Beaver Brook flows down Mt. Olga where it crosses the base of the Mt. Olga trail, flowing under a small footbridge, and then follows the park entrance road to the intersection of Route 9. The small stream is easily accessible in this fairly quiet park. Lucky visitors may see small trout darting across small pools located at the base of the Mt. Olga Trail.
Quechee: Ottauquechee River
Follow the Quechee Gorge Trail from the Route 4 bridge to the bottom of the gorge (approximately ½ mile). Several benches provide a place to sit and enjoy the scenic river, complete with rapids and several large pools. During the summer months this is a very popular attraction with hundreds of visitors each day. If you can make the hike early in the evening or late in the morning, it is a very peaceful location to sit and enjoy nature.
Townshend: Negro Brook
Negro Brook flows alongside the Bald Mountain Trail where it then borders the western edge of the Townshend State Park campground. A large stream that can be enjoyed all, Negro Brook is found along a fairly strenuous trail where hikers pass chutes, waterfalls, and pools on the way to spectacular vistas to the north, south, and east.
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