Swimming made more accessible on the Williams River

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Chester is nestled in the Green Mountains, and a small pull-off on the Green Mountain Turnpike just a mile from the Village Center will lead you down a newly constructed path to the Williams River.  Locals call this beloved swimming hole “Rainbow Rock” after the large and striated bedrock outcrop that protrudes into the Williams River just downstream of its confluence with the Middle Branch.  And there forms a large, deep, cool water pool – perfect for swimming!

Most hot days in Chester will find a few locals swimming at Rainbow Rock, sometimes with their dogs, often with their kids or friends.  Other days find anglers casting a line, or a volunteer from the Southeastern Vermont Watershed Alliance collecting water samples.  And now walking down to the river’s edge is easier than ever before.

When the Vermont River Conservancy was first contacted by the landowners, the trail leading down to Rainbow Rock was a steep and direct pitch to the river, heavily eroded and festooned with exposed roots, a difficult descent for most.  And storm runoff would rush off Green Mountain Turnpike straight into the river.

Vermont River Conservancy, with funding support from Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, Fieldstone Foundation, Jane B. Cook Foundation, VRC Swimming Hole Fund, and the generous support of many local donors, and in partnership with the Town of Chester and the Chester Conservation Committee, conserved public access to forever keep this swimming hole open to the public.

Immediately after purchasing the property, conserving it, and transferring it to the Town of Chester, Vermont River Conservancy built a new trail with a gentler pitch, a switchback, and improved drainage.  Now Rainbow Rock is easier than ever to visit, and will always be accessible for all.

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