STERLING FALLS GORGE


Stowe, Vermont



RATING: 3.0 / 5.0 stars (Great) Sterling Falls Gorge, Vermont
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Vermont
COUNTY: Lamoille
TOWN: Stowe
PARK: Sterling Falls Gorge Natural Area
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No
TYPE: Plunges, horsetails and cascades
HEIGHT: 105-foot total drop
WATER SOURCE: Sterling Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Low
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.3 mile one-way to end of gorge
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Easy side of moderate
HIKING TIME: 15 minutes one-way to end of gorge
ALTITUDE GAIN: -125 feet to end of gorge
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: Page 46, E-4 (the falls are not marked on the VT atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: Yes
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm), standard (35-70mm), and/or short telephoto (70-105mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Sterling Brook Gorge
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 44°32.35, -72°43.19
GPS-WATERFALL: 44°32.28, -72°43.09
COMPASS: 20 degrees (when N on the compass is pointed towards the falls)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

Sterling Falls Gorge, sometimes called Sterling Brook Gorge, is the perfect place to take a class of students for a fieldtrip. Reached by following a self-guided interpretative trail, you will notice many small signs describing the history, geology, and lore about Sterling Falls Gorge. You learn at one of the stops that there are 3 falls, 6 cascades sets, and 8 pools within the gorge.

No falls or cascades are greater than a few yards tall, and unfortunately the pools are out of reach. In addition, only about half of the drops or cascades are fully visible during the summer when the leaves on the trees hinder your view. Portions of the trail are often roped off for your safety, limiting some of the viewpoints. The good news is that this place is significantly less crowded than other waterfalls in Stowe. Another plus is that many of the falls and cascades are indeed still visible from the trail. There is also a quiet picnic spot at the end of the gorge, great for a snack or a full lunch.

TRAIL INFORMATION

From the parking lot, cross the bridge marked with a “resident vehicles only” sign. The trailhead is just after the bridge on the left, marked with a billboard describing the park rules and the geology of the gorge. The trail you are about to embark on is an interpretative one with several “stops” along the trail outlying key geological features and facts from the beginning to the end of the gorge. The falls begin shortly after the trail begins. Continue along the trail downstream for more plunges, cascades, pools and the gorge. If you continue traveling down the trail past where the interpretative signs end, about 0.3 mile from the road, you will eventually descend a wooden staircase and arrive at the brook well beyond the end of the gorge. To the surprise of most visitors, there is a an unexpected picnic table found here. It is a truly wonderful and secluded place for a picnic.

From the end of the gorge, you can follow rough paths directly upstream for views of the lower gorge and the falls contained within them.

DIRECTIONS

From the junction of VT 100 and VT 108 in Stowe, take VT 100 north for 1.7 miles to a left onto Stage Coach Rd. Follow this road for 1.7 miles to a left onto Sterling Valley Rd. After 1.6 miles on Sterling Valley Rd, you will come to a four-way intersection. Take the right hand fork that does not pass through a covered bridge (there are two right turns here). Continue for 2.7 miles further (staying straight at mile 1.0) and take a left onto Sterling Gorge Rd at a sign for “Sterling Falls Gorge Access & Parking.” Continue down Sterling Gorge Rd for 0.1 miles and park in the parking area at the end of the road on the right.

To get to Stowe, take I-89 north from Montpelier or I-89 south from Burlington to exit 10 in Waterbury. Follow VT 100 north.

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

There are many additional trails nearby, including trails to the upper gorge of Sterling Brook. There are rumors of additional waterfalls within the upper gorge, but I have not yet confirmed that. Here is a trail map of all trails in the area.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Sterling Falls Gorge, Vermont
a terrible shot of Sterling Falls Gorge (I need to return when it's not so sunny)

Sterling Falls Gorge, Vermont
Sterling Falls Gorge, Vermont

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

Our 376-page New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition guidebook contains detailed information on over 400 waterfalls throughout New England. Click on the image below to read reviews and/or purchase the guidebook on Amazon.com.



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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
       

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

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ASK A QUESTION / LEAVE A COMMENT / PROVIDE AN UPDATE:

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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!