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Water Activities in Waterbury

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Waterbury: Water Defines Us

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Take the plunge and discover Waterbury’s state parks, reservoir, swimming holes, and the Winooski River. Swim, jump, dive, paddle, and fish; come up for air and take in our uncommonly pure natural environment. Water: it’s in our name.

Looking forward to spending a calm day at the beach, relaxing with a good read or taking time with family? Waterbury Center State Park is located on a 90-acre peninsula, surrounded by a reservoir created by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day weekend, 10 am to sunset, you’ll find many amenities including a swimming area, picnicking, grills, boat rentals, restrooms, and changing areas. A universally accessible trail includes two fishing platforms. A boat ramp allows access by motorboats, which are permitted with speed restrictions, but leave Rover at home – pets are prohibited. Enjoy the plants and animals on the Nature Trail, and then hop aboard a kayak, canoe, paddleboat, or stand-up paddle board and cool off on 850 acres of water. Never paddled before? Sign up for lessons at the Park with Umiak Outdoor Outfitters.

If you have a little more time to enjoy the sun and stars and would like the convenience of tent or trailer camp sites, hot showers, lean-tos, or cabins, consider camping at Little River State Park, which is located on the opposite side of Waterbury Reservoir. Within the park, explore the early 1800s when about 50 families settled the area, leaving evidence of cemeteries, sawmill remains, town roads, bridges and cellar holes that have withstood the test of time. Spend the day swimming, soaking in the sun at the beach, fishing, or boating; nature programs, a museum, boat rentals, a ball field, hiking trails and play areas cater to every age and level of energy. Pets are permitted at Little River. Before you go grab wraps and sandwiches to go at the Apple Core Luncheonette and Brew at Cold Hollow, or visit the Cabot Farmers’ Store for wine, beer, cheese and crackers. Want to grill? Stop in to one of Waterbury’s supermarkets and stock up on food to grill.

Seeking thrills and chills in the water? Check out the Bolton Potholes, one of Vermont’s most preeminent swimming holes. These large, round, rock “bowls” are located on the Joiner Brook falls about six miles west of Waterbury. Head to the Smiley School where you’ll find parking. Water shoes are recommended for climbing on the rugged bank. Pack some beverages (glass bottles are prohibited) on a hot, sunny day, and don’t forget a trash bag to help contain and remove your rubbish. If you’d like to mix it up with some dry land adventure, fly through the canopy on the ropes course at the Bolton Valley Adventure Center.  

Connecting to the water by hook, line, and sinker may be just your speed. If so, Waterbury’s angling opportunities are truly legendary. In addition to lakes, ponds, and the Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury is defined by the Winooski River, a 90-mile tributary to Lake Champlain, featuring brook, brown, and rainbow trout, salmon, panfish, perch, bass, and more.

Purchase a fishing license from Parro’s Gun Shop, or order online from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department prior to your visit. Be sure to check state regulations dictating fishing season dates and times.

Waterbury boasts a number of storied fishermen who are willing to help you land the big one. Stop in at the Old Stagecoach Inn and find Innkeeper John 

Barwick for tips and tricks. Seek out Greg Trulson at Moose Meadow Lodge and Treehouse, where the walls are adorned with a variety of fishy taxidermy, take a tour of the tree house at the Lodge, and head to the pond.

Before you go dial in to the blogs of guides in the area; trip leaders from The Fly Rod Shop (www.flyrodshop.com/blog), frequent fly fishing reports from guide Lawton Weber (pleasantvalleyflyfishing.com/blog), and Willy Dietrich on fly or spin fishing, as well as ice fishing in winter (http://catamountfishingadventures.blogspot.com/).

If you decide to go it alone, here are some spots where you may be most likely to come up with your own fine kettle of fish:

  • Park at The Ice Center and fish the stretch of river to the Middlesex Bridge. You’ll find excellent trout, 10-15” in the riffles and 12-30” brown trout in the pools, some of which come from the state’s fishery stock.
  • Pull off Route 2 in Moretown at the Arthur Buck River Access near the landfill; be careful on the steep river bank.
  • Try the Main Street Bridge downstream to the Winooski Bridge if the water level is high enough.
  • Grab the kids and find the deep pool below the waterfalls at Bolton Power Dam, just off of Little River Road near Camel’s Hump Road, where fish activity typically picks up on summer afternoons and evenings.
  • Take a chance on Ridley Brook near Camel’s Hump Road, where small brook trout congregate in pools.