Name of Project: Buttermilk Falls
Location: Ludlow, VT
River: Branch Brook
Type of Project: Swimming Hole and Waterfall
Public Access: Yes
Date Completed: 2001
Size: 7 Acres
Water Frontage: 2,500′
Landowner: Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation
Funding Partners: Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, Individual Donors
Property Description: A series of waterfalls and popular swimming holes on the Branch Brook, listed in the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources inventory of significant waterfalls, cascades, gorges and swimming holes. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation manages the property which is cared for by staff from Camp Plymouth State Park during the summer months.
There is a large pool below both the lower and upper falls, each being deep enough for complete submersion. The lower falls flow into a deep 25-foot-wide pool of clear, olive-green water. Later in the season a quaint twist of water wraps itself around a slightly wetted rock, adding character to what is usually a typical plunge throwing itself over the ledge during high-water-volume times.
The upper falls is a segmented horsetail, with the right fall being predominant. The left horsetail is strong only in spring or after a heavy rain. In general this horsetail is steeper and slightly taller; it is 15 feet high, whereas the right horsetail is about 12 feet. Both streams of water flow into another large swimming pool with clear water and a pebble-covered bottom.
Project Background: When the land around the falls came up for sale, the State of Vermont contacted VRC who then organized the project and brought it to completion. VRC purchased Buttermilk Falls from members of the Johnson family of Massachusetts and New York who had owned the property since 1963. Upon purchase, VRC donated the property to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation, with the conservation easement held by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB) to ensure that the property can never be developed and that the state will always allow public access to the site for swimming and enjoyment of natural resources.
VHCB awarded VRC a grant of $30,500 to purchase the site. The project required an additional $14,500 to reach the overall $45,000 cost. Response to VRC’s fundraising efforts was overwhelmingly strong, with over sixty individuals and businesses contributing to the purchase.
“Letters and checks came in from all sorts of people”, said Jeff Meyers, VRC Executive Director. “So many people have been visiting Buttermilk Falls since they were little kids and now they are bringing their grandchildren. Thanks to the response from the community, VRC was able to seize the opportunity to protect a site that has been loved for generations. It will always be available for enjoyment by all those who come after us.”
Directions: From the center of Ludlow, VT, take Route 100 north. Turn left on Rt. 103. Buttermilk Falls Road is approximately 1.5 miles further on the right. Turn here and proceed to end. The falls and Branch Brook are along the abandoned stretch of old Route 103.