Venture Vermont: Dorset Quarry
Picture a secluded swimming hole among the forest. Imagine the sounds of running water, birds chirping, leaves rustling in the cool breeze as you bask in the glory of an Indian summer. Now, go experience it! Believe it or not there truly are places like this that are easily accessible just beyond your back door. The Dorset Quarry may not be deep within the forest, but it sure fits the bill for an All-American swimming hole getting listed on multiple “Best Swimming Holes in America” lists. When visiting southern Vermont, we want you to enjoy the full experience including adventures to local hangout. For this Venture Vermont, here’s what you need to know:
This massive 60 foot deep swimming hole is usually found being enjoyed by dozens of families jumping, swimming and sun bathing. First mined in 1785, this is the country’s oldest commercial marble quarry. Stone from Dorset Quarry was used to build the main branch of the New York Public Library and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts among other notable buildings.
The quarry sits on privately owned land. The owner asks that those enjoying this historic quarry maintain a reasonable noise level and keep the area clean. If you bring it in, you bring it out. Lastly, be aware that dangerous conditions do occur and you’re entering at your own risk.
If you’re looking for more seclusion, try these other notable Vermont swimming holes in the area.
The quarry is located on Route 30 in southern Vermont. As you head toward Dorset from Manchester, it’ll be on our right. Don’t park on Route 30, instead use Kelly Rd. located to the left of the quarry. You can’t miss it. See the Street View Here via Google Earth.
What You’ll Learn
You may learn that you’re scared of heights (like I did). You may learn that you’re more of a “two feet on the ground at all times” person. You may learn that you can still get butterflies in your stomach. Then again, you may learn that you love the feeling of Vermont air flowing through your hair as you jump feet first into an old quarry.
Luckily for myself and others like me, there’s a variety of ledges to jump off ranging from 3 to 25 feet. If you have absolutely no desire to jump at all, you can ease yourself in using one of the three latters available. You’ll quickly realize that this isn’t just for the thrill seekers with a need to huck their body of a cliff but for the sun bathing masters and floating gurus. In addition to the stone, there’s a small grassy area to lounge on.
Not only will you learn about the friendly local crowd but you’ll experience firsthand their kindness. I remember the first time I went the quarry. I was blown away by the beauty and excited to join in the weekend ritual of jumping away the work week woes. Unfortunately, as I stood on the ledge my excitement was overpowered by anxiety and fear. I paced along that ledge for an hour before giving up. However, before I let my fear win, I had several locals encourage me to make the jump and even offered to jump in unison. Little did they know, nothing could strip me of my fear but I appreciated their attempt to help. Eventually, after several trips back over the years, I jumped.
Perhaps you’ll follow in my footsteps and learn something about yourself on your visit or maybe you’ll just learn that southern Vermont is wicked fun. Either way, it’ll be a good time for all.
What to pack & What to wear
Wear a bathing suit, as there’s no changing room or anything like that. We suggest packing sunscreen, a hat, sun glasses or eye protection, towels, floats and water shoes. If you have one, pack your GoPro too. You won’t be the only one there taking the plunge with camera in hand, trust me. You may also want to bring a re-fillable water bottle to stay hydrated. If you’re brining young children, consider bringing a life vest. Remember to leave only your footprints when leaving. We’d like to keep the quarry clean.
Suggested Age Range
We suggest ages 7 and up for this Venture Vermont. However, if your child is under 7 years old and is a strong swimmer, this is a great summer experience. I’ve seen many families visit the quarry with children younger than 7; often times they’re wearing a life vest and under close supervision.
About the Author
Courtney DiFiore | Three years ago, Courtney was on a mission to find herself; instead, she found Vermont. As she navigates her way through the ups, downs and moguls of life Courtney enjoys spending it standing sideways. Growing up in a family of skiers, two planks were the first mode of transportation for this outdoor enthusiast. Along the way, she discovered snowboarding and never looked back. Her scattered thoughts make for interesting posts. If she ever goes missing, make sure to check the tennis courts first!