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.
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.
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.
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.
The 830-acre Waterbury Reservoir was dry for seven years while the dam was being repaired, but has since been restored to its former boating-fishing-swimming glory. The only “development” on its pristine shores is Little River State Park, central Vermont’s largest and most popular campground, with 101 sites. Look for cellar holes, an old sawmill and other evidence of an abandoned 300-year-old farming “campground” that preceded it.
Going bareboat? Winds of Ireland at the Burlington Boathouse rents out seven sailing sloops to experienced skippers. If you need someone else to take the tiller, they’ve got captains for hire.
Perkins Pier’s Waterfront Boat Rentals lets out rowboats, kayaks, canoes, double kayaks, aluminum skiffs and Boston Whalers by the hour — or eight. With more than 130 square miles of lake before you, the only limitation is how long you’ve got. And, of course, your vessel’s horsepower. An easy paddle north will take you to the Rock Point promontory via North Beach, where Burlingtonians go to swim and out-of-towners camp out. Go south to survey Red Rocks — a popular swimming and sunset spot — and Oakledge Park. Got a few hours?
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. PHOTO: CAROL DINGLEY
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.
The Burlington waterfront used to be a busy shipping center with all the accompanying industrial detritus. Thankfully, the urban shoreline has been beautified over the years. Take a stroll along the boardwalk or the bike path, step about the Spirit of Ethan Allen for a lake cruise, have lunch at Splash! at the Boathouse or toss a frisbee on the grass. If it's raining, take refuge at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center.
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