By Cole Whitaker
The dog days of summer in Vermont are here and fall may be nearing, but with high temperatures and higher humidity, winter has never felt farther away. Luckily for Vermonters, the Rutland region offers ample opportunities to beat the heat by jumping in cool water. From family-friendly beaches to off-the-beaten-path swimming holes and adrenaline-pumping ledge jump-offs, there’s a place for everyone to enjoy a day in the water near Rutland. Here are a few of the best:
Family beach day
Lake Bomoseen State Park, on West Castleton Road off Route 4 in Castleton, offers a large sandy beach, playgrounds, volleyball courts, barbecues, and a snack shack–everything you need to keep the whole family cool and happy for the day or even the weekend if set up at one of the shaded campsites only feet from the water. The state park is open for day use from 10 a.m. to sunset and costs only $4 for adults, $2 for ages 4-13, and is free for children 3 and younger. Camping spots begin at $18 and can be reserved in advance online or selected on arrival (space permitting.)
Thrill and chill
Clarendon Gorge is only seven miles from downtown! Head south from Rutland on Route 7 and take a left onto Gorge Road, and you’ll immediately see the free parking area for Clarendon Gorge on your right. Take the asphalt path straight down to the first of numerous swimming holes on the Mill River to find a large pool carved out of a cliffside that offers daredevils an opportunity to take the plunge from heights up to 30 feet! There’s also a rope swing to launch off of and a fire pit that hosts many impromptu weekend bonfires. For the explorers in the group, head upstream to wade through the waters into the narrows of Devil’s Gorge and beyond.
Clarendon Gorge has a parking area that is gated at night and opened for use from sunset to sunrise, with informational signs about appropriate activities.
[Editor’s note: an equally great spot is at the other end of Clarendon Gorge, which can be reached off Route 103, at the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail trailhead just south of the railroad tracks.]
You don’t have to go far beyond Rutland city limits to find peace and quiet, and at the Esperanza Quarry you’ll find one of the nicest, and least known, places to take a dip as well. Follow Business Route 4 West from Rutland, turn left onto Marble Street and go approximately 2.5 miles. You’ll pass by the Carving Studio, which makes the use of the remaining marble pulled from the ground by providing artists space to turn the stone into art. A short while after you leave the hot asphalt for dirt roads you’ll find a pullout on the right marked by large marble blocks, remnants of the Vermont marble heyday. Take the dirt path straight back to an azure oasis. The decommissioned quarry has since filled in, providing clean marble edges and cleaner water that plunges to almost 100 feet. After wading down the stairs for a swim, find a forgotten marble slab to lie out on and soak in the summer rays!
The Quarry is unsigned, but is a commonly used swimming hole. But do go at your own risk. According to Vermont state law “trespassing” does not occur unless notice against trespassing is given through the direct communication from the land owner or agent or “signs or placards so designed and situated as to give reasonable notice” are present. 13 V.S.A. § 3705. Please watch for and be respectful of posted signs and landowner requests.