CUSSGUTTER BROOK CASCADES


Bristol, Connecticut



RATING: 2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good) Cussgutter Brook Cascades, Connecticut
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Connecticut
COUNTY: Hartford
TOWN: Bristol
PARK: None
PRIVATE PROPERTY: Unknown (however, the general public appears welcome and there is a well-established trail to the falls)
TYPE: Cascades
HEIGHT: 80-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Cussgutter Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Low
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.4 mile one-way
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: 15 minutes one-way
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 150 feet to base of falls; up 230 feet to top of falls
WHEN TO VISIT: April to May
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2007: Page 34, A-2 (the falls are not marked on the CT atlas)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Compounce Cascades
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 41.644500, -72.924000
GPS-WATERFALL: 41.643500, -72.929667
COMPASS: 90° excluding declination (the falls face east)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: No, the falls are not currently included within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

These falls are literally next door to the Lake Compounce Theme Park. I wonder what percentage of visitors to the theme park have been to this extended series of mountain cascades? I'm guessing less than 0.001%.

Cussgutter Brook drops over 80 feet here, but no falls are taller than 12 feet. The prettiest of them all is near the top, so you'll need to huff-and-puff your way up to them for the best view (and photographs). Altogether, this is a pretty stream, with many moss-decorated boulders. The falls do need to be running strong to impress you though, so time your visit wisely.

There may be some more small cascades upstream, but I went no further than where the trail crosses the stream. If you know of any other substantial waterfalls on this brook above that point, let me know by sending me an email or using the Facebook comments section below.

TRAIL INFORMATION

The trail begins at the parking area and starts climbing moderately along a blue-blazed trail. This is called the Compounce Cascade Trail per some Internet sources, and take note that some but not all of the blazes also have a red dot inside of them. Keep climbing with the stream on your left and you'll reach the main falls after 0.4 mile without ever having to cross the brook. Take note that this entire trail is uphill and there are some eroded and very narrow slopes-this is not a good trail for the youngsters. You'll know you have reached the end of the main falls when the trail finally crosses the brook. There may be some additional cascades further upstream that are out of view, but I did not attempt to check as I am nearly certain that I had visited the most substantial falls on this brook.

DIRECTIONS

From I-84 in Plainville, take exit 33. Follow CT 72 west through Plainville and into Bristol. In Bristol, turn left onto CT 229 (Middle St). Follow CT 229 south for 0.1 mile and take a right onto Lake Ave. Follow Lake Ave south for 1.5 miles and a small parking area will be on your right just before the service entrance to the Lake Compounce Theme Park. There is only enough room for 1 or maybe 2 vehicles to park here.

To get to Plainville, take I-84 west from Hartford or I-84 east from Waterbury.

UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION

NONE NOTED.

If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at gparsons66@hotmail.com or leave a Facebook comment at the bottom of this page. Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the guidebook can always be found here: book updates

OPTIONAL HIKES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Cussgutter Brook Cascades, Connecticut
Cussgutter Brook Cascades, Connecticut

Cussgutter Brook Cascades, Connecticut
Cussgutter Brook Cascades, Connecticut

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TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES

Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England. Here is a list of all known deaths at waterfalls and swimming holes in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.

HELPFUL LINKS

Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link

OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS

In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link
       

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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Newenglandwaterfalls.com and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!