West River Trail: 2.0 miles from park entrance to Cobb Brook Bridge. Unblazed.
One of few converted rail beds in southern Vermont, the section in the park is universally-accessible and great for easy walking, jogging, or biking. The trail meanders along the West River, following the old bed of the West River Railroad. Look for “The Dumplings,” a group of large boulders about 0.5 miles up the trail. Follow the trail for another 1.5 miles to reach Cobb Brook. After crossing the brook, the trail continues to Ball Mountain Dam (another 0.5 miles on federal property). Completed in 1961 for flood control, the dam stands 265 feet high and is 915 feet long. The section of trail in the park is part of a 16-mile rail trail that is managed by the Friends of the West River Trail.
Switch Road Trail: 1.1 miles from West River Multi-Use Trail to base of Hamilton Falls. Blue blazes.
Follow the West River Trail 2 miles. Before reaching Cobb Brook, the trail intersects with the Switch Road Trail. This trail was originally used to transport cord wood harvested in the West Windham valley to the railroad where it was used as fuel for the wood burning steam engines. Bear right and continue up the trail for one mile. A steep footpath on your left brings you to the bottom of the falls. To go to the top of the falls, continue on the trail to the end, turn left onto the town road, and turn left again onto a descending path. Once there, you will be looking down a 125-foot cascade onto a unique series of potholes.
Overlook Trail: 2.0 miles from campground to West River Multi-Use Trail. Blue Blazes.
Beginning near Hackberry lean-to, the trail loops around a fence and joins a logging road. Turn left and follow the road for about 0.5 miles. The trail then turns sharply to the left and climbs the ridge to a series of scenic vistas at the summit of Little Ball Mountain. The vegetation here is easily damaged, so please walk carefully and stay on the trail. The trail continues down the north side of the ridge and through a wooded valley joining the West River Trail.
There are 41 tent/RV sites and 18 lean-to sites that are spread out through the campground. Two restrooms, complete with hot showers ($), are located in the campground. A picnic shelter and nature center are located near the picnic area and swimming hole. A hiking trail follows the West River and branches off toward Hamilton Falls.
The park's most popular sites include:
Hamilton Falls: A breathtaking geological feature, the falls are beautiful and dangerous. The rocks are very slippery and a slip could be fatal. Swimming is strongly discouraged. Forty-one acres around Hamilton Falls have been designated a State Natural Area. Please do your part to protect the Natural Area by staying on designated trails and packing out your trash. Recommended access to the falls is via the West River Trail and Switch Road Trail, starting from the park's main gate.
The Dumplings: At this location on the West River, there are large boulders (glacial erratics) in the river. This is a popular “play area” for white-water boaters. A viewing deck has been constructed here to provide scenic views of the river.
Salmon Hole: Great for swimming, this area marks the site of the “Salmon Hole Massacre” where a group of French men and Native Americans ambushed British soldiers in 1748.
For more information visit the Vermont State Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation online, or contact:
From the town of Jamaica, drive south on VT-30/VT-100. Toward the southern end of town turn right on Depot Street. Continue for 0.5 miles. The turn is on the left. Parking is provided within Jamaica State Park campground.
There is parking plowed out at the main entrance in the winter. Walk in from the entrance to the trailheads.
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