Our destination in Vermont was Quechee Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Vermont. Quechee Gorge is Vermont’s deepest gorge, 165 feet deep and over a mile long. It was formed by the Ottauquechee River which flows eastward through a broad and shallow valley, then turns abruptly southward and plunges into this narrow, rocky cleft. Over the years, the water has worn through the hard schist of the bedrock creating the beautiful Quechee Gorge.
Today Quechee Gorge is part of the 612 acre Quechee Gorge State Park. You enter the gorge through a visitor’s center that leads down to the middle of the gorge trail. This short trail ends in a flat, open part of the gorge where the river is shallow enough to play. We hiked this trail on a day when it was 92 degrees, and there were lots of people playing in the water.
We hiked to the other end of the Quechee Gorge trail which takes you up to the rim and the bridge that overlooks it. Then you follow the gorge up to the dam and the flat, open valley with the Ottauquechee River behind it. There is also Dewey’s Mill Pond where a woolen mill operated in the 1800’s. The entire Gorge Trail was about three miles in length with some up and down but nothing too strenuous.
The small town of Quechee surrounds the Quechee Gorge. It is a combination of tourist village and small New England town, so it has some charm as well as restaurants, souvenir shops, and miniature golf. But half the shops and restaurants were closed or for sale, so it looks like the town is struggling as do many small towns. There are several hotels in town, within walking distance of the gorge. The Quechee Gorge State Park has rustic camping, and the KOA a mile outside town has full hookups.
Quechee is also home to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. This is less than a mile from the Quechee Gorge and is the largest sanctuary for birds of prey in the northeastern US.
We enjoyed exploring the Quechee Gorge, the Grand Canyon of Vermont. A day spent in Quechee is certainly worth the time if you are in the area.