Community & Public Places: Boating
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.
There’s no rest for the wannabe Olympian here. Once the snow melts, the cross-country skis are replaced with skulls. Boaters come from all over to ply the waters of Big and Little Hosmer lakes at the first-ever rowing camp in North America. They work with world-class coaches, eat good food and take classes in related disciplines such as yoga. Runners, too, flock to Craftsbury to improve their technique and hang with other hoofers. The vast network of trails, groomed for marathon cross-country skiing, are just as inspiring in the summer.
The boating business that operates out of the Cupboard Deli in Jeffersonville is strictly a summer-only operation. Green River Canoe and Kayak Guided Adventures do floating tours on the Lamoille River. Guided paddles, at $65 per boat, include a “Sunset Beaver Watch” and “Water and Wine” — the latter is a 4.5-mile float that ends up with a tasting tour of Boyden Family Winery in Cambridge. “Self-guided” is also an option. The price — $35 per kayak for a 2.5-hour float — includes shuttle service and heavy lifting.
A 400-passenger cruise ship may not be your speed. How about a sail on the FRIENDSHIP SLOOP? The gaff-rigged boat accommodates up to 17 people and makes three trips a day. A two-hour tour costs $275 for up to six people, and $35 for each additional passenger. If you want a longer sail, you can customize the cruise to fit your fantasy: half day, full day, early morning, sunset. Bring your own wine and cheese — and IDs if anyone in the group on the boat is under 21. They provide the cooler.
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.
Looking for non-motorized vessels? A single kayak is $15 for two hours, a canoe, $17, at Hero's Welcome General Store. Need boat shoes, sunscreen, snacks? They’ve got it all, including a sophisticated website that lets you buy unique Vermont souvenirs all year round.
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.
People have been fighting over Lake Champlain as long as there have been personal flotation devices. The waterway’s strategic value is evidenced by the dozens of shipwrecks on the bottom. The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has been discovering, researching and protecting those rusty relics, and the result is the Lake Champlain Underwater Historic Preserve, a gallery of sunken ships accessible to divers. But there’s plenty to look at on land, too. The dry museum chronicles the maritime history of the area through exhibits, boat-building demonstrations, lectures and festivals. Re-enactors take over the place for two days at the end of August. The “Rabble in Arms” Living History Weekend includes a re-launch of the 1776 replica gunboat Philadelphia II.
Vermont boasts plenty of pretty panoramas. But the state’s most dramatic landscape is the view of Lake Willoughby from atop Mt. Pisgah. When a glacier came through the area 12,000 year ago, it cut through the granite like a knife, leaving sheer cliffs on each side of the deepest lake in Vermont — Willoughby is 312 feet deep in some places. From above, it looks like shimmering blue stone — more like a Norwegian fjord than a Vermont watering hole. To catch the South Trail up Pisgah, follow Route 5A to the south end of the lake — near the nudie beach. After about half a mile, you’ll see a parking lot on the left. It’s a little more than a mile to the top, and there’s a great lookout part way up.
North Hero Marina rents canoes and kayaks for $30 a day — $20 for a half. A pontoon boat and a 15-foot fishing boat go for $275 and $100, respectively.
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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