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Cavendish, Vermont

RATING: 2.0 / 5.0 stars (Good) Cavendish Gorge, Vermont (see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Vermont
COUNTY: Windsor
TOWN: Cavendish
PARK: Cavendish Hydroelectric Recreation Area
PRIVATE PROPERTY: Unknown (I am almost certain this is all state-owned land)
TYPE: Cascades and small plunges
HEIGHT: Tallest plunge is 10 feet; 80-foot total drop; the falls on the tributary are 35 feet tall
WATER SOURCE: Black River and an unnamed tributary
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium for main falls; small for tributary falls
TRAIL LENGTH: 0.3 mile one-way to viewpoint at middle of gorge and tributary falls
HIKING TIME: 10 minutes one-way to viewpoint at middle of gorge and tributary falls
ALTITUDE GAIN: Up 10 feet, down 30 feet to viewpoint at middle of gorge and tributary falls
WHEN TO VISIT: May to October
SWIMMING: Not Possible and/or Prohibited
DELORME ATLAS: 2007: Page 26, A-6&7 (the falls are marked as "Cavendish Gorge" on the VT atlas)
2015: Page 64, C-2 (the falls are marked as "Cavendish Gorge" on the NH/VT atlas)
COST TO VISIT: Free (as of 2016)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) and/or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Cavendish Gorge & Cascades
GPS-TRAILHEAD: 43.378833, -72.600833
GPS-WATERFALL: 43.381667, -72.597000
COMPASS: Main falls: 110° excluding declination (the falls face northeast) (although the river changes direction downstream)
Tributary falls: 180° excluding declination (the falls face north)
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included within the appendix of the guidebook
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This waterfall had been on my radar for years because it is clearly marked on the Vermont DeLorme Atlas. For years, I could only find limited information pertaining to the falls online. With cases like this, I usually run into private property signs when I go searching. The limited research I had completed indicted that the public was welcome or at least tolerated here, and that proved to be the case.

Water loses a lot of altitude through Cavendish Gorge, but the drop is mostly gradual and the taller drops are often instructed by huge boulders strewn throughout the gorge. A 10-foot plunge over a huge rock outcrop is easily seen along the rim of the gorge, if the dam upstream is releasing enough water over its banks. Although these falls, and all the other falls and cascades within the gorge, aren't particularly spectacular in any way, the walk-in and along the gorge is a nice and quick walk. It's the sort of place you would have hung out at hundreds of times if you grew up in the area. That's the best way I can explain the experience of visiting this place.

A tributary dumps into the gorge near its midpoint. This 35-foot tall falls is quite pretty during periods of high water. In high water conditions, I would rate it a 3.0/5.0 in terms of beauty.

Although you will see some tempting pools in the gorge-particularly towards the end of it-getting down to the river for a swim is pretty much out of the question; the walls of the gorge are far too precipitous. From end-to-end the gorge is about 750 feet long.


From the parking area, walk past the gate and continue along the often overgrown dirt road behind it. This dirt road is part of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) trail network. After walking along this road for 0.15 mile, you will reach a fork. Fork left and cross under a set of power lines 100 feet later. From the power lines, you should be able to hear and partially see the falls flowing over the dam at the head of the gorge. There are various small plunges and cascades that can be seen downstream over the next 0.1 mile. There are no official hiking trails near the edge of the gorge, but the forest is open enough that meandering around is fairly easy. The best views of the gorge are a few hundred feet downstream of the dam. There is also a 35-foot falls on a tributary stream that dumps into the Black River there.


From the junction of VT 131 and VT 106 in Weathersfield, take VT 131 west for 6.9 miles and take a left onto Mill St before you reach the center of Cavendish. Follow Mill St for 0.2 mile and take a left onto Cavendish Gulf Rd. Follow Cavendish Gulf Rd for 0.3 mile and take a left onto a narrow dirt road on the left (marked as Elton Brown Rd. on some maps) immediately after crossing a set of railroad tracks. Follow this dirt road for 100 feet and park on the right in front of a gate.

To get to Weathersfield, take I-91 north from Brattleboro or I-91 south from White River Junction to exit 8. Follow VT 131 west.

Take note that alternative access is possible from the other side of the gorge. For directions to the alternative trailhead, refer to the Vermont Waterfalls guidebook by Russell Dunn.



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 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


None noted.

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Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
Cavendish Gorge, Vermont

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
Cavendish Gorge, Vermont

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
a tributary falls dumping into Cavendish Gorge

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
a tributary falls dumping into Cavendish Gorge

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
Cavendish Gorge, Vermont

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
Cavendish Gorge, Vermont

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
Cavendish Gorge, Vermont

Cavendish Gorge, Vermont
a tributary falls dumping into Cavendish Gorge

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The 3rd edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook contains 552-pages of detailed information on hundreds of waterfalls throughout all corners of New England. This 3rd edition has been completely updated and it is the first to be printed in FULL COLOR! Click on the image below to explore some sample pages of the guidebook on

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New England Waterfalls guidebook

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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


In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes in this region:
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (2nd Edition: 2022) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls Maine: A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2020) = link
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (3rd Edition: 2019) = link


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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And if you'd like to follow the New England Waterfalls page on Facebook, click here.


Feel free to ask a question, leave a comment, and/or provide an update relevant to this waterfall below.
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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 wary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!

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