Community & Public Places: Parks
This 253-acre island makes a great little campground. Reservations are competitive and you have to be prepared to schlep your stuff — in and out. The “Island Runner” ferry leaves from Kill Kare State Park at the southern tip of St. Albans. Can't get in? Try the Woods or Knight Island State Parks.
Button Bay is one of the best beaches on Lake Champlain: The water’s clean, and you can rent canoes and kayaks right there. If neither swimming nor boating appeals, there’s always the area’s unique geology: flat round “button-like” rocks along the shoreline are great for skipping. Seventy-three campsites and 13 lean-tos beckon if you feel like staying over. Samuel de Champlain, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold and Ben Franklin all did.
This park is popular with people who want to camp near — but not in — Burlington. There's a boat launch for canoes and kayaks and plenty of lakeshore for swimming and fishing.
With 653 acres, Green River Reservoir is the largest “quiet” lake in Vermont. No gas-powered boats are allowed on the water, which makes it perfect for paddling. And you need a boat — and some muscle — to get to every one of the 28 remote campsites tucked in along the 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline; Some spots are as far as two miles from the launch. Parking is limited, and the park is considered “full” when the lot is.
This park was once home to an exclusive girls camp, but it's now a natural area known as a great spot for weddings. Locals picnic and swim here. Bike down flat, open, back roads to nearby Button Bay State Park.
This small island offers remote camping only — that means no potable water. Reservations are competitive and you have to be prepared to schlep your stuff — in and out. The “Island Runner” ferry leaves from Kill Kare State Park at the southern tip of St. Albans. Can't get in? Try the Burton or Woods Island State Parks.
This state park is home to the Island Center for Arts and Recreation, a community-based nonprofit that promotes cultural events in the region. Until recently, the Royal Lippizan Stallions used this as their summer home. It's a great place to watch the boats go by on Lake Champlain.
This 482-acre state park includes more than two miles of land on Lake Carmi — and Vermont's third largest peat bog. Take a walk through this designated natural area, or get out on the water. Bring your fishing pole and land some walleye or Northern Pike. This is also the state's largest campground, so there are plenty of spots to spend the night.
Woodstock is a classic 18th-century New England town — minus the avaricious loggers. George Perkins Marsh, a noted naturalist and statesman, was one of the first to see the error of those ways. He set aside 500 acres of conserved forestland that is now the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. More than 20 miles of carriage roads weave through the park, making it a spectacular place for a leisurely amble.
If you’re curious to know what a little drug money can do for you, make a trek to the Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert. The center, comprising more than 3000 acres of field and forestland in the southwestern corner of the state, is a nature lover’s paradise with its hiking trails and campsites. In keeping with its mission to promote sustainable farmland and forest management, the center runs workshops on trail tending, identifying wild plants and managing small herds of livestock.
The views of Lake Champlain, the Champlain Valley and the Adirondacks are breathtaking from this hillock that also happens to be a state park. It’s a short, winding climb to the top — on a road that you have to share with cars, and you have to pay either way — but somehow the exhaust fumes don’t spoil the experience. Must have something to do with all those happy people at the top.
Burlingtonians come here to swim and picnic, out-of-towners also use it as a campground.
Deer and migratory waterfowl are common visitors to this woody waterfront park.
Oakledge Park marks the Southern end of the Burlington bike path. Once home to the Webb family's Oakledge Manor, it now boasts picnic shelters, playground equipment and a stony swimming beach (no lifeguards, though). It's also home to the first handicapped accessible treehouse built in a public park. A short walk north takes you to the site of Burlington's Earth Clock. Stick around for the spectacular sunset.
Where there’s a wind, there’s a way, and it’s almost always blowing in Champlain Islands. That, combined with lots of beach access, makes the area ideal for windsurfing. At Sandbar State Park, you can catch a southeast breeze, or a northwest one, and go the distance. White’s Beach on South Hero is also a favorite launch spot. Serious surfers head out between Stave and Providence islands to the broad lake, where they can ride the big waves all the way to New York. Depending on the wind direction, the Grand Isle Lake House can be a sweet spot, too.
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