6 Most Magical Lakes in Vermont For Kayaking, Canoeing & Swimming
Last updated on September 20th, 2022
Lately, Vermont has been on my mind a lot. I was going through our old photos and found a bunch of pictures from those times when we went on a few road trips in Vermont that included canoeing and kayaking.
These days, knowing that summer is approaching, we just want to return and experience it all over again.
If you ask an average American what he or she knows about Vermont, most likely they will tell that this land is known for maple syrup, covered bridges, hilly valleys, and colorful foliage season. But Vermont is more than that.
This amazing state also has many colorful towns, history museums and sites, biking routes through old-fashioned villages, bustling farmers’ markets, mountains, and lakes.
So in today’s post, I would love to share some truly magical lakes in Vermont that we got to visit. I hope they’ll inspire you to go explore and get on the water. Here they are…
Amazing Lakes to Go Swimming, Kayaking, and Canoeing in Vermont
1. Lake Morey
Lake Morey is a rather small but very picturesque lake in Eastern Vermont. It is located right near the border with New Hampshire near a small town Lyme – one of those pretty towns that everyone associates New England with.
We discovered this truly hidden gem of Vermont on our visit to Hanover, a super cute college town in New Hampshire. On the way back from Hanover to Montpelier, we decided instead of taking a highway to take a scenic Rt. 5 along the Connecticut River.
Once we approached Fairlee, we decided to make a stop at Lake Morey to see if there was anything exciting to do there. And yes, this lake had so much to offer!
A historic Lake Morey Resort that sits right on the shore of the lake offers access to beaches, canoes, paddleboards, and kayaks. If you stay at the hotel overnight, canoeing and kayaking are included. All outside guests can pay for kayaks if in-house guests are not using them.
This lake also has a winding road along the shoreline where everyone can walk, jog, or bike. Also, outside the hotel area, there are a bunch of spots for water sports and leisure. If you have your own kayak or paddleboard, you are free to take it on the water anywhere around the lake.
If you decide to spend a day or stay overnight on this Vermont lake, also pay a visit to Orford, just a bridge crossing away. Its early mansions that date back to the late 1700s crown a ridge above the Connecticut River and offer impressive views.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE LAKE MOREY
Lake Morey is easily accessible from many cities and towns in Vermont and can be done as a day trip. However, staying overnight in this area gives you more time to explore the nearby White Mountain National Forest, Sugarbush Farm, Billings Farm & Museum, and another beautiful lake Mascoma Lake.
So, besides the Lake Morey Resort (which usually has the lowest prices on Hotels.com,) Silver Maple Lodge, a beautiful 17th-century mansion, is a more budget-friendly charming option.
2. Lake Memphremagog
Lake Memphremagog in the very north of Vermont is one of many lakes in that area. In fact, it is part of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, famous for its rural corner, lakes, woodlands, and meadows.
The land surrounding this lake looks just like the glacial forest that lies in the far north, somewhere in Alaska or Northern Canada. At the same time, it reminded me a lot of the scenery in Oregon. Lakes and bogs dot the countryside, and woodlands of coniferous evergreen trees extend for miles.
In a small town Newport with a newly developed lake’s waterfront, you have more chances to meet a moose than another person. It is very quiet, untouched, and marks the gateway to adventure.
Newport is the best spot for swimming, canoeing, or kayaking. You can rent a kayak at The Great Outdoors and go enjoy the lake anywhere close to the town and out towards Canada.
If you don’t feel like kayaking, you can always go on a boat tour or rent an outboard boat for the entire day. This rich in solitude and wildlife area also offers many spots for taking photos. Don’t miss a drive around this lake!
Psst: Less than 20 min drive away is a super awesome lazy river paddle adventure with Clyde River Recreation. It is a different kayaking experience where you should go with your family or friends to unwind!
WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE MEMPHREMAGOG LAKE
Lake Memphremagog is huge. And the biggest part of it is on the Canadian side. However, one of the cutest Inns is right by the lake in Vermont (below.) So, if you decide to spend a weekend in this part of Vermont, here are two lovely suggestions for your stay.
Cliff Haven Farm B&B – small cute family-owned Bed & Breakfast in a quiet corner of Vermont. Come here during the foliage for a leaf-peeping.
Vita Huset, Swedish Inspired Inn – an incredibly adorable small B&B in the heart of the main town Newport. This accommodation is perfect for family stays and getaways with friends. Take a look at how cute rooms are!
3. Lake St. Catherine
On the opposite side of the state, near the border with New York, is another serene and peaceful lake with some of the best Vermont kayaking and canoeing spots.
More than that, it has incredibly clean water, two sandy beaches, picnic areas, a boat launch, hiking, and cycling trails.
We spent only a few hours there on our side road trip from Green Mountain National Forest but regretted we didn’t have more time. This big lake with campgrounds for tents and motorhomes and lakefront chalets can be a great place for a full weekend getaway in Vermont.
The main entrance to the lake is in Lake St. Catherine State Park. However, it’s usually the most crowded place since there is a beach in the park. A scenic W Lake Road around the lake all the way to Waterfront House has a few spots for recreation and kayaking if you are having your own kayaks.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE LAKE ST. CATHERINE
A trip to this lake can be a great day trip from Burlington or Saint Albans. A lot of people also visit on road trip to Green Mountain National Forest. And, as I mentioned above, you can even spend the entire weekend here, choosing to camp or stay in one of the lodges.
Our favorite accommodation options that I would like to share with you guys are:
The Loon & Otter Lodge – a perfectly decorated house-museum in a secluded and picturesque area. Everything just feels right here, from cozy and inviting rooms to service.
The Dorset Inn – technically not near the lake but a short drive away. Even if you don’t stay overnight, go there for dinner and cocktails. Their food and atmosphere is totally amazing!
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4. Lake Champlain
Of course, lake Champlain was going to make this list. It is the largest lake in Vermont, incredibly beautiful and with many activities. Many people will definitely say that the best kayaking in Vermont is on Lake Champlain.
During our multiple visits to Vermont, we drove around this lake in different directions, visiting state parks, camping, and kayaking.
The shoreline of this lake is home to various towns, parks, and historic sites. Being 172 km long and 23 km wide and having more than 80 islands, the lake offers tons of opportunities for swimming, fishing, paddling, boating, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, and even hiking.
You can easily go on a road trip around Lake Champlain hoping to make a few quick stops but understanding how much is there to explore and do.
Some of the best areas to go kayaking on Lake Champlain on the Vermont side are Kamp Kill Kare State Park, Knight Point State Park, Woods Island State Park, Sand Bar State Park, Law Island, Fish Bladder Island.
NOTE: Knight Island State Park requires reservations and a fee for any visit between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Fish Bladder Island is a private bird sanctuary, reservations and arrangements are also required. Check the details on their website.
WHERE TO STAY ALONG THE LAKE CHAMPLAIN
With hundreds of accommodation options, it may be difficult to decide where to stay overnight. If you are looking for a getaway and don’t want to stay in Burlington or Saint Albans, I’d love to recommend a few places that we loved:
Fearn Lodge – a romantic lodge on the shore of Lake Champlain in South Hero. The location is right on the water in a very secluded and charming area. We loved it for some of the best views and a super quiet environment.
The Inn at Shelburne Farms – a bit expensive, yet a very elegant 19th-century country estate where you are transported back in time. If you can’t stay overnight, at least visit for a few hours!
5. Lake Elmore
If you are looking to go canoeing or kayaking near Stowe, this quaint beautiful lake is going to be a great pick. Montpelier (the capital city of Vermont) and scenic road Rte. 100 are also only a short drive away.
If you are visiting Vermont from outside the state, I highly recommend you drive Rte. 100 together with the mountain Rte. 108 before you get to the lake Elmore. Both of these roads are known for a long skein of country villages full of quirky Inns, shops, and cafes.
The lake itself is part of the Elmore State Park, full of hiking trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and fairytale forest.
There are a few spots around the lake where you can go kayaking if you have your own kayaks. For instance, on the western side of the lake near Point Road and Wigner Road. When we visited, we saw kayaks for rent on the Elmore beach, so it may be a better option for most people.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR THE LAKE ELMORE
Lake Elmore is truly a stunning place in Vermont where spending a few hours of your day may not be enough. For the best experience, especially if visiting this part of New England in the fall, you can stay in one of the charming B&Bs or Inns.
So if you are wondering where to stay near Lake Elmore, have a look at these suggestions:
Mountain Spring Cottage – one of our favorite Inns in Vermont. A cute small B&B with only a few rooms creates a homie feel. Everything here is excellent – service, location, ambiance, rooms. This is a fantastic option for couples on a romantic getaway to Vermont and families who want to unplug.
Governor’s House In Hyde Park – another cozy Inn for an exceptional experience. Have a 19th-century stay in one of the rooms with a unique character and style. The owner, Suzanne, is a perfect host and cook who knows how to create unforgettable memories for each guest.
6. Lake Bomoseen
Lake Bomoseen is a beautiful lake to go kayaking not far from Burlington if you feel like you got enough on Lake Champlain.
This Vermont lake is special for many reasons. First of all, it is large enough to accommodate all kinds of water sports, including swimming, kayaking, boating, sailing, tubing, water skiing, and more.
Second, it has numerous beaches as well as spots for fishing and picnicking, although beaches for non-residents are for a small fee. And third, there is a road around the lake where you can bike, drive or walk and enjoy the views along the route.
Lake Bomossen is very close to Lake St. Catherine, so it is easy enough to visit both lakes during one trip.
Alright, now I’d love to hear from you guys. Have you been to any of these Vermont lakes? Have you been to any other lakes that didn’t make a list? Drop a comment and let me know! Also, don’t forget to pin this post!
Would you like to get inspired to visit other places around the USA? Check all my posts on US travel here!
Great post, I’m a Vermonter and avid Kayaker. Email me before your next trip to northern Vt and I’ll sent you some truly magical and less well known sites to try. Breathing bodies of water to explore.
Enjoy and happy travels.
Thank you, Dianne, I really want to return!!!