Three days of 90+ degree heat in Vermont will prompt you to get out and search for a place to cool off. After a quick Google search and a recommendation from a friend we set off from the Deerfield Valley and drove 1 1/2 hours to Clarendon VT in search of the Clarendon Gorge. GPS directions took us near the Lower Gorge area where we were met with NO TRESPASSING signs. With a little more investigation we realized we had passed the entry point which is along RT 103 and is located on The Long Trail of the Appalachain Trail.
DIRECTIONS: From the junction of VT 103, take VT 103 west (leave from Hearthside out to VT 103 and turn right). Travel west on VT 103 for 12-13 miles and take a left into the “Appalachian/Long Trail” parking lot immediately after crossing the railroad tracks. Park and take a short walk down to the bridge crossing to access the main Clarendon Gorge. NOTE – even with the railroad tracks as a landmark, this spot is easy to miss!
The trail used to access the gorge is the combined Appalachian Trail/Long Trail. From the parking area, walk past the trail billboard and immediately descend into the woods. Follow the white-marked trails for 0.1 mile and you will reach a suspension bridge over the gorge.
There are many hiking and camping paths after you cross the bridge. The Clarendon Gorge and the Appalachian Trail or “Long Trail” cross paths here. The Long Trail travels from Southern Georgia to Canada.
The 30 Ft monkey bridge is something straight out of Indiana Jones. The bridge oscillates up and down in a way that both releases adrenaline and causes your stomach to search for a fire exit. But once safely on the other side, its all tranquility. You can’t help but be awed by the bedrock walls of the canyon that the water has carved out over time. From the gorge, you can see all the small cascades and the deep gorge walls.
Clarendon Gorge is a popular swimming hole as we found out on this searing hot day. The cascades and deep pools for lightweight “rock plunging” are perfect for beating the heat.
I would highly recommend going feet first. Diving is too dangerous. I would also recommend staying away during excessive runoff such as after heavy rains.
I am sure the area is differently transformed after every winter and spring run off but today there was a nice deep pool directly under the bridge, maybe a little up stream where we couldn’t find bottom even when jumping in from the sidewall.
A little traversing and climbing down stream found another perch that found an endless bottom when jumping from above. A little difficult to get to as you need to cross through the rushing water but figuring it out is part of the fun.
The remainder of the day we simply soaked in the shallow areas where the thought turned to the long drive back, where we would have dinner and how hot the condo would be when we got home. No air condition!