Energy, power, cooling mist. . . If you love summer’s waterfalls as much as we do, you have to check out Killington’s Thundering Falls. This cascading section of the Kent Brook, tumbling about 140 feet through a narrow cataract carved into the mountainside by the powerful force of water over a period of centuries, is truly a slice of heaven. It’s a retreat into a cool and mossy environment, a great way to beat the heat on a sunny day.
The sixth highest known waterfall in the state, access to the falls is the product of a remarkable collaboration between the US Forest Service, Green Mountain Club, and Appalachian Trail Conference. It’s an easy half-mile walk with a big payoff: from the road, a level stroll through the Ottauquechee River floodplain on the raised boardwalk to the observation area only takes about 15 minutes. This bog is beautiful in every season; in summer it’s decked out with wildflowers and teeming with painted turtles, salamanders, and birds such as the yellow-bellied flycatcher or ruby-crowned kinglet.
With a gentle grade, no real bumps or obstacles, and a smooth, five-foot wide surface, the Thundering Falls boardwalk is universally accessible to all. The raised platform with sturdy railings will easily accommodate a wheelchair or stroller, with space to pivot as well. Beside the shaded falls, an observation platform is perched below a canopy of hardwoods, presenting a safe and beautiful opportunity for a photo. The remains of an historic power mill on the other side of the falls are a reminder of days when water was settlers’ primary source of electricity. The Appalachian Trail continues from the bog, past the falls, and up the hill with intricate stone steps carved into rock.
The Thundering Falls trailhead is located near the Killington Town Office on River Road, just off Route 100 and about 15 minutes from the Red Clover Inn. Thundering Falls is a worthwhile jaunt year ‘round, but of course it will be louder in its “thunder” after a recent rainfall. As always, be careful and come prepared with sturdy footwear, water, and other hiking gear as needed. Keep an eye on the sky and associated conditions, take on only what you and your companions are comfortable with, and make sound choices. Enjoy yourself, and have fun at the falls!