Whoever came up with the phrase "Ah, peace and quiet" probably stood on the banks and watched the frothing waters tumble over Burlington Falls. The person who created "Peace out" might have found it difficult to leave the waterfalls, where streams of sunlight pass through a hemlock canopy and illuminate the bubbling waters below.
The beauty of the state's waterfalls is that each one is unique. And the Burlington Falls, simply known as the "upper falls" and "lower falls" are no exception to that rule. The upper falls look like a huge pile of boulders with water cascading over them. The lower falls are two tiers of classic plunges into a deep pool popular with jumpers in the summer as videos on YouTube showcase.
The waterfalls are located along a portion of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association's blue-blazed Tunxis Trail – a 79-mile path from Southington to the Massachusetts border. The trailhead to a portion of the path that runs to New Hartford sits right at the upper falls. The Burlington Rambler's Guide, a booklet published by the Burlington Land Trust, showcases this portion of the trail, calling the falls "one of Burlington's better-kept secrets." So, shhhhh, don't tell anyone.
You have to work a little to see some of the state's best waterfalls. Cheshire's Roaring Brook Falls, the state's tallest plunge, requires a mile-long trek through the woods. Kent Falls can be a strenuous climb to view it. Burlington Falls can be seen by simply walking along the relatively deserted Hotchkiss Road.
According to the guide, don't bother looking for any defined or blazed trail along the falls, but there are paths where leaves have been crushed by past visitors. There are also plenty of old foundations and sluiceways to explore while visiting the falls.
The setting is dramatic with the falls tumbling through a gorge of hemlocks and boulders all covered with moss, its bright green startling in the winter landscape. The vibrant stream tumbles over ledges and boulders with old, fallen trees adding to the area's ambience.
The popularity of the lower falls is revealed in the dozens of names and initials etched into the granite cliffs. Signs in the area discourage swimming here, but a rope swing hangs over a deep pool. All through the gorge, the gentle sounds of the falling water mix with birds singing on a mild first day of winter.
It's the time of season for peace on earth and there are few places that better symbolize that than the upper and lower Burlington Falls. Treat yourself to a little peace and quiet during this holiday season.
Take Route 4 into Burlington and turn onto Covey Road just to the east of the town center. Take a right onto Hotchkiss Road and look for a small parking area on the right. Or just roll down the window and listen for the tumbling waters. Peter Marteka can be reached at 860-647-5365, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.