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Water Activities in Waterbury

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Waterbury: Water Defines Us

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 for 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 Labor Day, 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, paddle boat, 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 Outfitters, just down Route 100. End the day with dinner at the aptly named Reservoir Restaurant and Tap Room, featuring Vermont burgers, fish tacos, and kale Ceasar salad as well as Hill Farmstead, Lawson's Finest, and Fiddlehead on tap.

If you have a little more time to enjoy the sun and stars and would like the convenience of tent or trailer sites, hot showers, lean-tos, or cabins, consider camping at Little River State Park, which is located on the other 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, taking 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. You won’t want to leave, so before you go grab wraps and sandwiches at the Apple Core Luncheonette and Brew at Cold Hollow, or visit the Cabot Annex for wine, beer, cheese and crackers. Want to grill? Stop in to one of Waterbury’s supermarkets.

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 out of Waterbury, just a quarter mile up the road to the Bolton Valley Resort. Visit Maxi’s Restaurant for lunch on the way, stop in to the Route 2 Flea Market if it’s a weekend, and head to the Smiley School where you’ll find the best 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 nearby Lodge at Bolton Valley Resort. Once you’re back on stable land, enjoy dinner at Bolton Valley’s James Moore Tavern.

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.

Book a cottage at Stowe Cabins in the Woods and visit Grenier’s Farmstand for fresh fruit, veggies and home baked goods to complement your dinner catch. If you need lunch before heading out, hit KC’s Bagel Café for New York-style bagels made onsite or the Green Mountain Coffee Visitor Center and Café for sandwiches and hearty bakery treats. Purchase a fishing license from Parro’s Gun Shop, or order online from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department prior to your visit. The Fly Rod Shop in Stowe also offers a myriad of fishing supplies. 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 for the best-in-town heuvos rancheros with Harrington of Vermont bacon, and find Innkeeper John Barwick for tips and tricks. Seek out Greg Trulson at Moose Meadow Lodge, 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 Willie Dietrich on fly or spin fishing, as well as ice fishing in winter (www.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 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.