If you love waterfalls in the wilderness but aren’t up for a major hike, Lye Brook Falls in Manchester, Vermont, is for you.
It’s an easy enough hike that you can add it to a visit to some of Manchester’s shopping outlets or to nearby Hildene, the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln.
But the jaw-dropping, 125-foot-tall falls should be the centerpiece of your day.
The falls are part of the 15,680-acre Lye Brook Wilderness in the Green Mountain National Forest. There are other trails in this wilderness, but the one to the falls is the most popular. While nowhere near as busy as some of the Adirondack High Peaks trails, the Lye Brook falls trail does see a fair amount of traffic, especially on fall afternoons. On the other hand, I encountered just two other people on an early-morning hike earlier this summer.
The 4.6-mile round trip offers all the expected bells and whistles of a walk through Vermont woodlands, including a wonderful canopy of maples and beeches. There is about 800 feet of elevation gain, but the slope is not excessively steep. I’ve seen people on this trail in flip-flops, although that’s not footwear I would recommend.
The hike includes several small stream crossings, but the water level is low and there are plenty of rocks to use as footing.
To get to the waterfall, follow the main Lye Brook Falls trail for about 1.8 miles until you reach a spur trail to the right. The main trail continues into the Lye Brook wilderness and, while fun, it an ambitious undertaking for a day hike.
The falls are about half a mile down the spur. You’ll know you’re close when you cross a dramatic landslide caused by Tropical Storm Irene back in 2011.
The trailhead is just minutes away from the main Manchester outlet shopping district: From Route 7 in Manchester, travel about a quarter mile east on Route 11/30 to East Manchester Road.
Follow East Manchester Road south for about a mile and turn left onto Glen Road, just before the overpass. Follow Glen Road and bear right at the fork onto the Lye Brook Access Road. The trailhead is just east of the parking lot at the end of the Lye Brook Access Road.