Old City Falls

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(Host) Commentator Alan Boye thinks that hiking into the woods in search of a waterfall is one of the best ways to beat the midsummer heat.

(Boye) I am walking on the trail to Old City Falls. The path descends through shady, quiet woods. The cloudy summer’s day is silent. Only a single, lonely bird chirps every now and then from somewhere deep in the dark woods.

The trail, which has been going steadily down hill, drops deeper into the earth on a series of steps. At first the steps are easy wooden platforms, but soon I carefully lower myself down a rock staircase that clings to the edge of the gorge. As I get older going downhill gets more difficult. Every once in a while, for example, my right knee simply decides not to work. That often makes steep walks like this an adventure.

With the help of the State of Vermont and the US Department of Interior, the town of Strafford created this trail and maintains the nature preserve that surrounds Old City Falls and Gorge. This is not a well-known trail. I suspect that even few Vermonters know about Old City Falls. The path looks lightly used and the surrounding mossy woods seem untouched.

The falls and gorge are not far from a collection of old houses on a bend of an antique road. That scattering of buildings is known as Old City. It’s called that because well that’s where the old city once stood. The very earliest white settlers built a town here during the revolutionary war. There had been a fort near by and the town grew up around it. Soon the town of Strafford was founded and this place became known simply as the Old City. It’s hard to know exactly what the town was originally called, since even ancient state maps just call it old city.

Almost imperceptibly the quiet has been filled with the sound of rushing water. With each aching step down the trail the sound grows until the hiss of the falls and the friendly splashing sound of water is all that I hear. I reach the bottom and then carefully step onto a round, slippery rock in the middle of the brook. Downstream the water pours through the V of the dark gorge. Just upstream, however, the entire brook jumps straight off a ten-foot high cliff.

I try to ignore the ache in my legs and I try not to think about the long steep climb back to my car. I stand in front of the refreshing water in mid summer and feel the cool air of the gorge. Even if the name of this place reminds me of my aging body, the walk to Old City Falls was worth it.

This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.

Alan Boye teaches at Lyndon State College. He spoke to us from our studio in Norwich.

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