BROWNS RIVER FALLS
||2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good)
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
||Old Mill Park
||Tallest drop is 4 feet
|| Lower falls are roadside; middle falls are 0.1 mile one-way; upper falls are 0.3 mile one-way
||Easy to lower and middle falls; easy side of moderate to upper falls (although some rock scrambling is necessary to get closer to the falls)
||10 minutes one-way to visit all three falls
||None to lower falls; negligible to middle falls; up 30 feet, down 20 feet to upper falls
|WHEN TO VISIT:
||May to October
||2007: Page 45, F-11 (the falls are not marked on the VT atlas)
2015: Page 39, B-5 (the falls are not marked on the NH/VT atlas)
||Yes (the lower falls are visible from roadside)
|COST TO VISIT:
||Free (as of 2016)
|LENS TO BRING:
||Wide-angle (14-35mm), standard (35-70mm), and/or short-telephoto (70-105mm)
||Chittenden Mills Falls
||Lower falls: 44.504494, -72.999390
Middle falls: 44.506500, -72.997667
Upper falls: 44.508167, -72.996667
||Lower falls: 245° excluding declination (the falls face west)
Middle falls: 290° excluding declination (the falls face southwest)
Upper falls: 280° excluding declination (the falls face southwest)
|INCLUDED IN BOOK?:
||Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
Browns River Falls is a collection of three sets of small cascades along a very pretty river in a lovely town park. The park was originally conserved with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy, who has helped protect several waterfalls in New England (and across the rest of the USA).
The primary cascades here are the upper falls, and drop about four feet. Swimming isn't possible here, but wading is. The lower falls are beside an old mill and are also known as Chittenden Mills Falls. There are rumors of more cascades further upstream, but they are likely to be located on private property.
We wouldn't suggest going out of your way to visit this place, but if you are in the area and are looking for a nice and easy stroll, this will fit the bill.
To visit the lower falls, return back to VT 15 and enjoy the views of the mill and falls from the bridge.
To visit the middle and upper falls, follow the obvious path from the parking area that parallels very closely to the water as you travel upstream. This very easy and pleasant trail will bring you to the middle cascades in 0.1 mile. The final set of cascades is 0.2 mile further upstream.
Some rock-hopping and light scrambling is required to obtain the best views of the falls. There are also more pools upstream on private property, although visitors appear welcome to visit based upon a recent sign that seemed to exempt hikers from the general "no trespassing" status of the land.
There are additional trails within this small conservation area, so it is possible to extend your trip and loop back to your vehicle on an alternative trail. A billboard at the start of the hike will help identify your options and provide you with a map (use your smartphone to take a picture of the map).
From the junction of VT 15 and VT 128 in the section of Essex known as Essex Center, take VT 15 east for 3.2 miles and take a left onto a road that contains the parking lot for a building called the Old Red Mill. Drive 100 feet up this road to a parking area on the right.
To get to Essex Center, take exit 15 off I-89 in Burlington and follow VT 15 east.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
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 email@example.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
the middle cascades at Browns River Falls, Vermont
the upper cascades at Browns River Falls, Vermont
the lower cascades and the Old Mill at Browns River Falls, Vermont
the land above the upper cascade is marked as private property, but it is unknown if hikers are welcome to continue upstream?
the middle cascades at Browns River Falls, Vermont
INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?
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.
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
WATERFALLS ON FACEBOOK
Join the growing communities of waterfall aficionados on Facebook! You can share your photographs, follow the adventures of other waterfall hunters, and find new places to explore:
- Request to join the "New England Waterfalls" community > link
- Request to join the "New Hampshire Waterfalls" community > link
- Request to join the "Northeastern Waterfalls" community > link
- Request to join the "Vermont Waterfalls" community > link
- Request to join the "Waterfalls of the United States" community > link
And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.
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