Journey's End is one of Vermont's many incredible swimming holes that sees its peak visitor rates in the middle of summer, but winter adventurers will find a spectacular frozen treat at the end of a short jaunt through the woods.
Twenty-five acres of forest along Foote Brook was purchased in 2010 by the Vermont Rivers Conservancy to preserve the swimming hole and surrounding forest. Since then, VRC has augmented access by building a foot bridge, installing staircases constructed from natural materials, and adding trail markers.
The trail can be difficult to follow in the winter. Fortunately, the open forest is easily navigated, even off trail. An old logging road also borders one edge of the easement, providing a helpful landmark en route to the waterfalls. Perhaps the easiest way to reach the main attraction is to head straight into the woods until you reach the logging road. Parallel the road until it takes an abrupt left turn, and continue straight, again heading into the woods. Within a few hundred feet, a steep descent begins to the river. The waterfall is just downstream.
Eventually, visitors will find a waterfall roughly 8 feet tall with a foaming pool just below. Because of the constantly churning currents, the pool remains open even when the temperature drops below zero for several days in a row. The waterfall itself becomes glazed in ice, and it almost looks like a chandelier.
Once visitors have reached the falls, they can continue upstream to see more cascades or head downstream to the more meandering portions of the brook. Be cautious near the edge of the river: It can be difficult to tell where the stream's edge actually lies when it's covered in snow and ice. The steeper portions of the bank upstream of the marquee waterfall are also very slippery, especially in the winter.