In the three weeks that we’ve been in Vermont we’ve experienced a slug of great late-summer weather – warm sunny days and (usually) cool, dry nights for sleeping. We were pleased to find the Wrightsville Beach swimming area just ten minutes from our house. However, when I happily reported this to my co-workers, the response has generally been, “oh, yeah, that’s nice. We’ll have to introduce you to some other local swimming holes that are even nicer.”
Without exception, the manner in which this was delivered suggested that Wrightsville Beach isn’t really considered all that nice.
The first alternative that others suggest is always the Dog River. On Friday I took advantage of our summer hours program and left early. Since the temps reached the mid-80’s, it seemed like a good time to check out the Dog. As it turns out, the Dog River swimming hole really is very close – probably a quarter mile from the end of the Winooski West Path that we walked on Monday. It is easily reachable by bicycle.
The Dog River swimming hole is definitely the type of place that you hear about from locals. Though easy to access, it’s a funky spot. It’s a bit upriver from the sewage treatment plant, though the water here is very clear. One parks at the Dog River Recreation Park and walks across the softball field to the stand of Japanese Knotweed, and finds a path to the river.
While walking into a grove of an incredibly persistent invasive weed at the edge of the outfield isn’t quite as romantic as James Earl Jones disappearing into the corn in Field of Dreams, there is a nice reward for the effort. The Dog is a narrow, winding river with clear water and a sandy rocky bottom. Most parts are pretty shallow, though the current has dug some deeper channels and there are a few deep, still pools. The near shore, particularly with the low late-summer flow, is an abundantly wide beach. And on the opposite side, acres of late summer corn atop a much higher bank.
Doreen and I surmised that the Dog River is so named because visitors are required to bring a dog with them. There was a handful of other folks enjoying the river, almost all of whom were throwing tennis balls into the moderate currant for their canine companions to chase. At one point there were so many balls being thrown around that some of the dogs appeared confused as to which they were supposed to chase.
The Dog River swimming hole is a beautiful location and a great spot to cool off at the end of the day, but it does lack the space and depth to swim for more than a few yards or to float languidly on one’s back. So it’s a nice alternative to Wrightsville, but not a real replacement for all that beach offers. But it is free and easy to access, so I see us spending more time there next summer.