Northern Vermont does not afford long periods of fantastic summer weather, even when the orbit of the earth should be dictating otherwise. High elevations, mountains, and a confluence of weather patterns all contribute to summer weather that is sporadic at best. (It makes for very difficult gardening, which is why you will meet some of the world’s best farmers and gardeners here; out of necessity they have honed their skills and attuned to the nuances of weather and can seemingly through a strange rural alchemy choose uncannily when to do what with their plants.) As juse one example of the area’s utterly unstable weather, temperatures decided to visit the high 30s in late July of 2013. When are you supposed to plant your tomatoes with this in mind?!

You will not find many beach bums who love summer and hate winter in places like Northern Vermont, and if you do they will probably let you know about it and will likely tell you their intentions to move to warmer pastures as soon as they are able. Rather, what you will find – if you know who to ask – is a wonderful diversity of freshwater locations to explore in your travels throughout the area. Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and falls abound for your enjoyment, some obvious to find and others far off the beaten path, tucked away down paths and trails for only the informed to enjoy.

Adam’s Hole is one such place. Located just into Barnett over the Danville line, it is a magical watering hole formed from years of hydraulic pressure between two steep ravines which hourglass the water quickly in and out, quickening its pace and creating a small basin immediately downstream. It is a favorite spot for locals young and old alike, with ambitious families bringing even their infants and toddlers down to the hole.

Like most water bodies in the area, it is quite cold until well into June, and by the end of August it’s back to cold again. But depending on rainfall, cloud cover, and temperature, the small window of July and early August can transform Adam’s Hole into a heaven of warm and evenly-flowing water, the perfect place to cool off when temps hit 90 and the humidity hovers at 80%.

The riverbanks are steep and the canopy hides most of the hole from direct sunlight, so it’s not the best place to lounge and relax a summer day away. (Drive one mile downstream on Adam’s Brook Road, take a hard left, park on the right before the small bridge, immediatly after the turn, and follow the trail to the water. Perfect spot for chillin like Bob Dylan on Pennicylin. You can even lay out on the rocks in the middle of the brook if the water’s not too high.) But there are plenty of things to do there. The water warms quickly in the heat of the summer days from miles of on-and-off exposure to open sun upstream, so it’s a great place to take a dip and relax. Paths follow the brook up and downstream for at least a few hundred yards, maybe further, so you can get your exploration on. And of course there’s always the enjoyment of swatting mosquitoes, deerflies, and no-see-ums. During most of the summer, the water flow is just about perfect so that, if one were so inclined, one could park one’s self in the middle of the hole, set to swimming, and find a perfect stroke to use Adam’s Hole as an endless swimming pool.

Best of all, Adam’s Hole is adorned with not one, not two, but three rope swings (as of summer 2013 anyway). The terrain is imminently conducive to these swings. The ledge rock which forms the slope around the hole, along with periodic flash floods which raise the water level by a foot or two, do not accommodate enough nutrient-rich soil for annything to grow right along the stream. Thus, the trees furthest down the slope toward the stream are afforded prime real estate to compete for canopy over the stream itself, and have grown slanting away from the ledge and out over the water. The steep pitch to the slope on either side of the stream provides the height to make the swings a but more interesting than the average riverside rope swing, and the years of hydraulic pressure pouring through the bottlneck upstream have deepened the hole to a depth of at least 15 feet in the middle when the water is not low.

In the summer of 2013 I counted 17 humans and two dogs at Adam’s Hole on a Saturday afternoon in early August. Not a bad showing for a secret spot on a back road in Northern Vermont!

You can find Adam’s Hole easily enough. Take Brainerd Street off of Route 2 in Danville. It turns left and turns into Adam’s Brook Road. Go a few miles and the road will turn to dirt. Go another mile or two and the houses will disappear. You’re looking for the second widened pull-off spot on the left side of the road. The first one is small, the second one is bigger and can fit five or six cars. Park there. If you reach the farm (Adam’s Farm, thus Adam’s Brook Road and Adam’s Hole) you’ve gone too far.

The path down is steep and can be slippery when wet, which is pretty much all the time in Northern Vermont. Don’t wear flip-flops if you’re not good on your feet. And don’t go barefoot if you don’t have good eyes and don’t step lightly. There is the occasional piece of glass on the path to avoid.

If your travels bring you to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont then I highly recommend tracking this little gem of a spot down. It was my aquatic salvation for three summers.

(For the sake of honoring my fellow brothers and sisters in the Northeast Kingdom who were so kind enough to tell me about this spot, I hereby declare that if I receive sufficient requests not to out this spot, I will remove the directions to get there. Save this page or copy/past now or forever hold your peace!)