The New England state of Vermont is located in the northeast corner of the USA and happens to be the sixth smallest of all states. It is also one of the safest and most tranquil states in the entire country, with the Green Mountains making up for a large portion of its terrain.
Vermont is the only landlocked state in New England, although the massive Lake Champlain makes up for half of its western border and even extends north into Canada. There are also many other lakes in the Green Mountain State Park that range in size and elevation. If you love the water and natural scenery and are visiting Vermont, these are the state’s 15 best lakes.
1. Lake Champlain; Grand Isle, Franklin, Chittenden & Addison Counties
Not only is this the largest lake in the state, but it is also the sixth-largest body of freshwater in the entire country! Lake Champlain stretches for 172 kilometres from north to south and 23 kilometres from east to west, making its way north into Canada and west into the state of New York.
It boasts a 945 kilometre shoreline that is home to cities, historic sites and parks, and also happens to be home to around 80 islands. There are so many things to see and do at Lake Champlain that you could easily spend a week here.
There are a number of state parks along the shoreline of the lake that offer swimming, boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and picnicking, amongst other things. There are also a few campgrounds, sandy beaches and wildlife refuges, making Lake Champlain a lake that anyone can enjoy.
2. Lake Saint Catherine; Poultney, Wells & Rutland Counties
This 345 hectare lake is a known spot for relaxation thanks to its picturesque shoreline. Lake Saint Catherine is also a magnificently clean lake, which makes it a great place to spend a few days to enjoy its recreational activities.
Snorkelling, scuba diving, water skiing, boating and swimming can all be enjoyed here, as can land based activities like hiking, cycling and bird watching. Lake St. Catherine State Park can be found at the north end of the lake, offering all of this as well as having two sandy beaches, a picnic area and a boat launch.
There are campgrounds at the state park for both tents and motorhomes. Visitors that would rather sleep in a cosy bed will find some lovely lakefront cottages for let.
3. Lake Willoughby; Orleans County
If you love majestic scenery then you will love Lake Willoughby, as the Willoughby State Forest surrounds the entire south end of the lake. Head to the north shoreline of the glacial lake and admire the spectacular views of Mount Pisgah and Mount Ho.
Lake Willoughby sits at an elevation of 357 metres above sea level and is 56 metres deep. As a result it is exceptionally clear and freezes much later in the year then other lakes in the area.
It is definitely one of the best lakes in Vermont as well as in all of New England, offering swimming, hiking, camping and fishing. Nudists can enjoy the nude beach on the lake’s southern shoreline, while families flock to the north ends Willoughby Lake Beach.
4. Lake Bomoseen; Rutland County
At 960 hectare, this freshwater lake is the largest lake that lies entirely within Vermont. Lake Bomoseen is located near the state’s eastern boundary just south of Highway 4, with Bomoseen State Park occupying much of its western shoreline.
In addition to the state park, the lake features many recreational accommodations, like a public beach, public boat launches and marinas. There are also around 1,000 private residences surrounding the lake, as well as numerous great restaurants.
Water skiing, windsurfing, swimming, fishing, boating and scuba diving are just some of the things that visitors can enjoy at Lake Bomoseen. Visitors that would rather stay on land can go hiking, camping, play volleyball or go wildlife watching.
5. Lake Elmore; Lamoille County
Lake Elmore is a stunning lake that is located in the central north half of the state. Elmore Mountain rises from the lake’s northern end, creating some spectacular scenery, giving it the nickname ‘The Beauty Spot of Vermont’.
The lake is very popular for recreational activities like swimming, canoeing, kayaking and fishing. Elmore State Park, on its north end, also has campgrounds, a playground, picnic areas and a snack bar.
There are hiking trails that lead from the lake to the top of Elmore Mountain’s 795 metre summit where panoramic views of the lake and its surrounding area can be enjoyed. There is a fire tower at its peak where even better views can be enjoyed.
6. Crystal Lake; Orleans County
This 309 hectare glacial lake is in the northeast section of Vermont just south of the village of Barton. The lake was formed by the Crystal Lake Dam on a branch of the Barton River, though today it is used for recreational purposes.
Crystal Lake is a cold-water fishery that is known for its lake trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, pumpkinseed, yellow perch and rock bass, amongst others. Fishing can be done from the Crystal Lake State Park or various other spots along its shoreline.
Crystal Lake State Park makes up for the lake’s entire north shoreline, offering swimming, canoeing, kayaking and, of course, fishing. The park also has 40 free-standing charcoal grills, 80 picnic tables, play areas and a cottage for hire that sleeps up to six people.
7. Lake Memphremagog; Orleans County
This stunning fresh water glacial lake is shared between Vermont and Quebec, Canada, though the majority of it is actually in Quebec. Still, three-quarters of the lake’s watershed is in Vermont.
Lake Memphremagog sits at an elevation of 208 metres above sea level and at 11,000 hectare, is the third largest lake in Vermont. The lake is home to 21 islands, five of which are located within the state.
At the southeast corner of the lake is Prouty Beach, which boasts a beachside pavilion, 75 campsites and changing facilities, as well as offering swimming, fishing, shuffleboard and hiking. Those that would prefer more comfortable accommodations will find a good selection of bed & breakfasts along the lake’s shoreline.
8. Caspian Lake; Orleans County
Caspian Lake has been a long-time favourite summer destination thanks to its postcard setting and recreational activities. The beautiful lake sits at the northern reaches of the Green Mountains and boasts a shoreline that is dotted with year-round residences and summer cottages, many of which are available for let.
The crystal clear blue water of Caspian Lake is very calm and excellent for sailing, water-skiing and swimming. The 324 hectare lake also features a town beach and a public boat launch.
It is a serene lake, which is something that its residents pride themselves on. This and its beautiful scenery, starry nights and occasional wildlife visitor.
9. Lake Carmi; Franklin County
This small, but lovely lake sits close to the Canadian border and just east of Lake Champlain. Lake Carmi is a shallow lake, making it an ideal place to go fishing for northern pike and walleye.
The main feature of the lake for tourists is the Lake Carmi State Park that sits along the southeast side of the 556 hectare lake. Here, visitors can go swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and cycling.
The state park boasts 140 campsites that also accommodate motorhomes, 35 lean-to sites and 2 cabins. There is also a nature centre and interpretive programs offered by the park rangers that are especially great for kids.
10. Lake Dunmore; Addison County
This 399 hectare lake is a natural glacial lake, although today a small dam controls its water level. The Moosalamoo National Recreation Area of the Green Mountain National Forest occupies the entire east side of Lake Dunmore.
The Branbury State Park takes up 28 hectares of the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area and is the main draw for visitors. Directly opposite it, on the west side, is a privately owned campground and lodge.
Camping is also offers at the Branbury State Park, where there are 36 campsites, seven lean-to sites and a two-bedroom lakefront cabin. There is also a 300 metre natural sandy beach, an open grassy area and hiking trails.
11. Silver Lake; Windsor County
Silver Lake is a popular destination both in the summer and throughout the winter months thanks to its fabulous year-round fishing. Still, most people visit in the warmer months to take advantage of its other recreational activities.
The Silver Lake State Park, which sits along the north shoreline of the 34 hectare lake, is where most visitors head to when they visit the area. The park is the lake’s main feature thanks to its sandy beach, picnic area and camping grounds.
Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing are all offered, as are land-based activities like hiking, horseshoes and volleyball. There is also a playground for the kids and a food concession.
12. Somerset Reservoir; Windham County
Somerset Reservoir sits in the heart of the Green Mountains with not a house in sight. It is one of the most serene lakes in Vermont and a great place for a quiet escape.
The only sign of life at the reservoir is a dam on the south side of it, as well as a boat launch that provides access to the lake for canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing. There is also an area along its shorelines that is designated for picnicking.
Somerset Reservoir sits at an elevation of nearly 700 metres above sea level with the only road access being at the south end of it. Most people arrive here by hiking or mountain biking along the 15 kilometre Somerset Reservoir Trail.
13. Griffith Lake; Bennington & Rutland Counties
This small lake and campsite sits within the Green Mountain National Forest and is maintained by the Green Mountain Club. It also happens to lie on both the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail.
Griffith Lake can be accessed only by walking or snowshoeing along a trail, with parking being available at the Griffith Lake Trailhead. The trail continues on to the Griffith Lake Trail, which is a 12 kilometre loop around the lake.
Once at the lake, it is possible to go swimming, picnicking and camping. There is also plenty of wildlife to see, most of which can be spotted while making the hike to the lake.
14. Maidstone Lake; Essex County
Maidstone Lake is a remote lake that was created by the melting glaciers over 12,000 years ago. Today, the beautiful 322 hectare lake is a lovely place to visit to enjoy recreational activities in peace and quiet.
Maidstone State Park is located on the eastern shoreline of the lake, offering swimming, kayaking, canoeing and boating. There is also some great fishing, with lake trout and salmon being in abundance.
The state park has 34 tent/motorhome sites and 25 lean-to sites, as well as a large picnic pavilion, a play area and a swimming beach. The boreal forest surrounding the lake offers some good hiking.
15. Harvey Lake; Caledonia County
Sitting in the northeast section of Vermont, Harvey Lake was named after one of the original settlers of the town of Barnet, which is just east of the lake. SCUBA inventor Jacques Cousteau learned how to stay under water and breathe through hollow reeds on this lake in the 1920s.
Harvey’s Lake Park dominates the northern end of the lake, featuring public beaches, picnic areas and camping grounds. The most popular beach is Harvey’s Lake Beach that is open from June to August and has barbeque grills, beach volleyball and a concession stand.
Most people come to the lake to cool off, go swimming and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.