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Twenty Foot is one of the finest waterfall swimming holes in Vermont. It consists of one small waterfall, sporadic cascades, and three absolutely stunning swimming holes. The first swimming hole-the one furthest upstream-is where you will find the most substantial waterfall. The river dumps over the 5 foot falls into a very cool, curvy gorge and channel. On the right day, you could see dozens of people jumping off the gorge rim into the very deep channel, which runs for approximately 40 feet. This is where the 'waterfall' earned its name. While it seems unlikely that the channel has a depth of twenty feet, we were unable to touch bottom on several attempts. When swimming holes are this deep, we aren't quite sure how feasible to measure the depth. Regardless of how deep it is, it is deep enough to thoroughly enjoy.
Cliff jumping at the two swimming holes located downstream is dangerous. A friend in tow almost tried cliff jumping at the second of the three holes, but at the last second decided to physically check its depth by swimming into the jumping zone. He was surprised to find this hole to be only 6 feet deep. From the cliff high above the river, the water appeared (to all of us) to be over 10 feet deep. We must remind you again to always scout swimming holes before jumping into them! The third swimming hole is similar to the second, large and somewhat shallow. Most visitors don't make it this far downstream, so this place has some clothing-optional potential. Cliff jumping is even more dangerous here. There is only the tiniest cascade to be found here.
There are three pools here, each featuring a small set of cascades or waterfall. From the upper parking area (on the right side of the road 1.1 miles up Tyson Rd), cross the road and head south into the woods on an obvious trail. After about 200 feet, you should reach a billboard with some information and precautions about the swimming holes. The upper pool and falls are just ahead, identified by a long narrow channel of water below a 5ft cascade.
The middle and lower pools and falls are 0.1 and 0.2 mile downstream, respectively. They offer as good of swimming holes as the upper falls and pool, so they are well worth your effort to find. The cascades you will find at each of these are even smaller and less notable than the upper falls, but you will likely discover these pools are less crowded.
From I-91 in Weathersfield, take exit 8. Take VT 131 west to VT 106 north. Follow VT 106 north for 4.1 miles and take a left onto Tyson Rd when you reach the village of Felchville. Follow Tyson Rd. for 1.0 miles and you will begin to find various places to park on both sides of the road. These parking opportunities continue over the next 0.1 mile. The first parking area on the left you come to is closest to the middle falls. The first parking area you come to on the right is very close to the upper falls. We suggest you park here, as this is closet to the premier swimming hole and the most impressive falls.
UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION
A reader emailed me in February 2016 to inform us that while still swimmable, Twenty Foot Hole was compromised by Hurricane Irene. Sediment and stone from above was washed into the basin reducing water depth from about 10 or 12 feet deep' to about 5 or 6 feet deep. In other words, be extremely cautious about cliff-jumping here.
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
Twenty Foot Hole, Vermont
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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.
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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