There are lots of great places to swim along the Mad River — you need only look for parked cars to find the sweet spots. Two well-marked areas couldn’t be more different: Dramatic Warren Falls is one of those rope-swing spots that attract shirtless adolescent boys. The family-friendly Lareau Swimming Hole is a peaceful bend in the river that is shallow enough for kids in some places and, in others, deep enough for a real dip. PHOTO: MATTHEW THORSEN
Addison County is a biker’s dream come true. The terrain ranges from flat, open expanses along the lake to rolling roads dotted with dairy farms.
When it gets really hot in Chittenden County, the locals head for the Bolton Potholes. Running alongside the road up to Bolton Valley Resort, Joiner Brook tumbles downstream to make five separate waterfalls. The stream’s curviness, and distance between individual potholes, makes the swimming area seem bigger and more private than it is. You can hang upstream, far from the madding crowd, or watch adolescent boys diving through an impossibly narrow chute of rock into a deep pool.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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