Park managers have different styles. Some want to build a perfectly marked, nicely graded trail to every significant natural feature within their borders. Others want you to do your homework and set out on your own adventures to find the hidden spots. There are no trails to either of the two falls on Gully Brook, even though they are so close to one of the main thoroughfares through the Bird Mountain Wildlife Management Area. The upper falls are fairly easy to find and visit, but the lower ones require some adventuring.
You can bring the whole family to the upper falls, even though there's no official trail. The going is fairly easy and you're never far from the road. These falls start as a narrow plunge by passing through a 20-foot gorge. They end with a fanning 4-foot plunge into a pool that's about a yard deep. It's a wide open area, with a rocky beach entranceway into a pool. You could plop a chair down and let the kids play for a few hours here, so long as the brook isn't flowing too well.
The lower falls lie only 0.3 mile mile downstream, but are very tough to reach. Expect a bushwack and some scrambling if you want to experience all the vantage points. Nothing about this particular portion of Gully Brook is family-friendly. Because there is no trail, the setting is pristine. The falls start as a pair of cascades before plunging about 25 feet into a gully. Immediately below the falls, the brook takes an immediate 90-degree turn. It's always neat when nature takes such a dramatic turn like that.
To access the lower falls, you will need to take a short but moderately challenging bushwhack. From the parking area, hike straight (west) into the woods, descending slightly at first. Don't waste much time looking for an optimal place to start bushwhacking as there really isn't one. After bushwhacking for 100 feet, you will reach Gully Brook. Once you reach the brook, turn right and head downstream with the brook on your left. There are some faint trails close to the brook that make it obvious that other folks have been here before. About 300 feet later, you will reach the top of the falls. Reaching the base of the falls is possible but it is difficult and there is some serious slip and fall potential. This is probably the reason why no official trail has been built here.
The upper falls are far more easy to access. To reach the upper falls, walk 400 further south along Birdseye Road, passing a tributary to Gully Brook and an overgrown parking area on the right along the way. Look for the remnants of an old logging road on the right shortly thereafter. It is often a bit overgrown, but it should still be obvious to you. Follow this road for 50 feet and then fork left to stay on the road. Continue 0.1 mile further along the old and often muddy road and the upper falls will become obvious in front of you. The upper falls are close to Birdseye Road but you simply can't see them from roadside.
From the junction of US-7 and US-4 in Rutland, take US-4 west to exit 5 in Castleton. Drive south on East Hubbardton Road while following signs to VT4A. Turn left onto VT 4 east. Follow VT 4 east for 2.2 miles and turn right onto Birdseye Road. Follow Birdseye Road south for 2.5 miles and park in a pulloff on the right that can fit about 3-4 vehicles. This pulloff is about 75 feeet north of where the road crosses a small tributary of Gully Brook over a culvert. This trailhead is used to access both the lower and upper falls on Gully Brook.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 lower falls of Gully Brook Falls, Vermont
the upper falls of Gully Brook 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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