This is one of the Best waterfalls in the Northeast



 Abs Mag:


 Beisel Rating:

2.08 (Class 3)


125 feet

 Tallest Drop:

80 feet

 # of Drops:





Cobb Brook






USGS Londonderry 7 1/2"


Aerial Photography


26 I3



The falls from below, click to enlarge

The falls from below, click to enlarge

An isolation of the middle drop, click to enlarge

The upper drop, click to enlarge

The falls from the base--note the tiny figure in blue (my Dad) near the crest, click to enlarge

The base of the drop and the adjacent alcove, click to enlarge

An old postcard image from the archive, click to enlarge



Jamaica , Windham County, VT , USA


No Known Alternate Names



The falls from the base--note the tiny figure in blue (my Dad) near the crest



In my humble opinion, this is likely the most impressive waterfall in the state. It's also the second deadliest, at least in terms of fatalities. The temptation to climb and scramble should be carefully considered as there have been 12 fatalities (to the best of my knowledge) at this waterfall. Cobb Brook, after slowly flowing through fairly level terrain, drops 125 feet in a spectacular display. After dropping down a 15' slide into a pothole, the stream slides down a long and steep sloping ledge of schist, then shoots into a large hollowed pocket, the edge of which forms the lip of the final 30' drop. The trail to the top of the falls is short, less than 1/10 of a mile in length. At the trail head, a sign reads, "Hamilton Falls Natural Area--Over 10 lives have been lost on these falls. Swimming is not permitted. Vt. Dept. Forests & Parks" Given the steep terrain here, this is not difficult to imagine. As the woods clear, you begin to see the valley open beneath you. This is an indication of things to come. Carefully climbing to the bottom, you see the falls in their entirety. Despite the warnings of falling to one's death, this is a moderately popular swimming hole. Before this ladder was in place, the only way to get out was to climb onto the ledge immediately to the left of the top of the falls. If this ledge got slippery, which often happens when rocks get wet, a fatal fall could be very possible. As much as it is forewarned against swimming here, somebody has accepted the inevitability of swimmers, and has bolted a ladder to the wall of the pothole above the falls as a contingency. I applaud this decision, and only wish the same display of common sense could extend throughout our population. UPDATE: I was under the mistaken opinion that the ladder had been removed by governing authorities and had subsequently issued "two thumbs down." I was mistaken and owe an apology to the Vt. Dept. of Forests, Parks & Recreation. According to Ethan Phelps of the aforementioned organization, "it was swept downstream by high spring waters after becoming dislodged. In fact, a neighbor thought it had been stolen! It only resurfaced a few weeks ago, buried under gravel in a pool downstream from the falls. In the interim, we have contracted with a local vendor to make a better and more permanent escape ladder solution. Signage was posted to that effect in June 09 as soon as we became aware that the ladder was missing. The custom fabrication takes time, however, and it is not in place yet. The old ladder has been temporarily reinstalled as an escape egress means. Also, swimming is not illegal at the site; it is definitely foolish at best, and deadly at worst. We strongly discourage people from swimming there, and provide the ladder only as a means of emergency egress, not as an attraction. New signage will be installed at the site indicating such as soon as the new ladder goes into place. As a side note, the ladder is very expensive, and has turned out to be a fairly significant financial burden for Vermont State Parks during very difficult economic times." Again, my apologies for jumping to a conclusion. While I HAVE seen some peculiar decisions, I'm happy to say that this is NOT the case in this instance.


Geology and Bedrock Structure:

Hamilton Falls is a 3 tiered formation that carves through and slides over the Hoosic Schist and the Cavendish Schist.




Photography Notes:

Hamilton Falls is a very photogenic waterfall. There are many compositions available, so keep your eyes open. You want an overcast day. Sunny days will wreck a shot of the complete falls as the trees at the top will be brightly illuminated even when the falls themselves are in the shade. You want a polarizer as there is substantial glare from the sloping rocks, and will also cut reflections in the pool at the base. The colors here are definitely on the cool side, bring your warming filter. A wide range of focal lengths will be helpful here, I use a 28-300mm zoom and utilize most of that range.



Take Route 30 to West Townshend. Turn north on Windham Hill Road and drive for about 4.3 miles. Turn west on Burbee Pond Road and drive for about a mile and turn west on West Windham Road. Drive for about 2.8 miles and look for a point where the road makes a sharp bend to the right in a wooded section. There is a small sawmill on your right. Park on the left side of the road or in a small lot on the right side of the road a few hundred feet further, making sure not to obstruct any traffic. The well worn and level trail, marked by the aforementioned warning signs, reaches the top of the falls in a few hundred feet. If you're visiting Jamaica State Park, just follow the trail up West River, then take the trail to Hamilton Falls.