21 Best Vermont Lakes and Reservoirs to Visit in 2023
Are you looking for some of the best Vermont lakes and reservoirs to visit this summer? You’re in the right place! Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the lake or an exciting outdoor adventure, Vermont has something for everyone.
As a resident of central Vermont, I have had the pleasure of exploring some of the most beautiful and serene lakes and reservoirs in the country. From swimming to fishing to simply enjoying nature, there are pristine spots all over the state.
In this blog post, I will share my top picks for the best Vermont lakes and reservoirs that you need to visit! Whether you are looking for an ideal spot for a family picnic or want to take in some breathtaking views, these places should definitely be on your list. So let’s get started!
Best Vermont Lakes and Reservoirs
Vermont has a variety of stunning lakes and reservoirs to explore. From the turquoise-hued and crystal-clear waters of Lake Willoughby to the massive Lake Champlain, there are picturesque views to be soaked up and plenty of exciting activities to enjoy in these breathtaking destinations.
Experience the wonders of Vermont on a fun road trip adventure, as you enjoy scenic routes, stop at serene lakes, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the region.
So, grab your sunscreen and a swimsuit and get ready for a fantastic time at one of the best Vermont lakes!
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1. Lake Willoughby
Beautiful Lake Willoughby is located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, in Westmore, and is considered one of the most stunning lakes in the state. It’s truly magnificent! The lake features two public beaches along the north and south shores.
Lake Willoughby is a glacial lake, so it’s known for its cool water temperatures but don’t let that scare you off. Swimming at the South Beach end is simply stunning with the clear waters there being reminiscent of the light blues found in the Caribbean ocean! It’s an incredible place to relax and enjoy the scenery.
Along with boating and fishing, hiking is also popular here, thanks to the lake’s proximity to Mount Pisgah, which features three trails leading to the top. All the trails offer incredible views of the lake and the surrounding area.
There is also a campground located directly at the south end with immediate views of the lake: White Caps Campground. On the north end, there is a family-friendly campground called Will-O-wood Campground.
2. Crystal Lake
Crystal Lake is a stunning lake nestled in Crystal Lake State Park, in the town of Barton, Vermont. The lake is well known for its picturesque views and crystal clear waters. It is fed by two springs and has a maximum depth of 35 feet, making it perfect for swimming and fishing.
The lake is about a mile wide and roughly 3 miles long, and it’s surrounded by gorgeous mountain cliffs, making for dramatic views. Swimming and paddle boarding are the most popular activities at the lake, and you can also rent a paddle board through the park.
Boating, particularly canoeing, and kayaking, are also common, but it’s important to remember that there is NO boat launch. Many visitors to the area also enjoy lounging on the lake’s beach or having a picnic lunch.
There are eighty picnic tables and 40 charcoal grills available for use! A small cottage that sleeps up to six people is also available for rent.
3. Lake Memphremagog
Lake Memphremagog is a large freshwater lake located in northern Vermont, stretching approximately 27 miles in length. It straddles the border between Vermont and Quebec, Canada. Most of the lake is actually located in Quebec. The lake covers an area of about 4,288 acres and has a maximum depth of around 300 feet.
The lake, which offers wonderful swimming or beach-going opportunities, is also home to 21 islands, five of which are located within the U.S. and one of which is international. It is an incredibly popular destination for outdoor recreation, offering a variety of activities such as boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
In addition to its natural beauty, Lake Memphremagog has cultural and historical significance as well! It was once an important waterway for the Native American Abenaki people, who used it for transportation and fishing.
The lake was later used for logging, and many of the loggers’ homes and camps can still be seen today. It also played a role in the Underground Railroad, with many fugitive slaves crossing into Canada via the lake to escape slavery in the United States!
Lake Memphremagog takes its name from an Algonkian word meaning “where there is a large expanse of water.” The word Memphremagog also led to the name of a cryptid creature, Memphre, which is said to inhabit the lake’s waters! Although sightings of the creature are uncommon and largely disputed, the Memphre lives on in the area’s folklore.
4. Lake Whitingham
Lake Whitingham, also known as Harriman Reservoir, is located in Bennington County. It is a large artificial lake in southern Vermont in the United States.
The lake covers an area of about 2,800 acres and has a shoreline of approximately 28 miles. It was created in the 1920s when the Harriman Dam was constructed on the Deerfield River.
Also known as the Harriman Reservoir, Lake Whitingham, is the largest body of water located entirely within Vermont! This area is known for its tranquility, and many people flock to the lake during the fall months to take in the spectacular foliage. You should join them!
The lake is also ideal for fishing, swimming, and boating, and even during the winter, the scenery is lovely, so it’s a truly great location at any time of the year. Lake Whitingham was originally a section of the Deer River, which was dammed to supply hydroelectric power.
When the area was flooded, the waters covered small villages, and on a day when the lake is clear, you can still see a mill and several other buildings below the surface. The Harriman Dam, which is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers, generates electricity by releasing water from the lake to turn turbines.
5. Maidstone Lake
The center point of Maidstone State Park, this remote lake is located just north of the White Mountain National Forest in the northeastern portion of the state. Like many Vermont lakes, Maidstone is a glacial lake that was carved from the landscape more than 12,000 years ago.
The park surrounding the lake, which was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, also offers several options for picnicking and camping. Thirty-four RV or tent sites, plus restrooms with hot and cold running water, make the area an attractive one for campers looking for a bit of convenience.
The lake is surrounded by the Maidstone State Forest, which provides fantastic opportunities for hiking, camping, and hunting. Pack your day hike food and go exploring! There are several access points to the lake, including a public boat launch and a beach area for swimming.
Maidstone Lake is also a great place to enjoy water sports such as boating and kayaking. The lake’s beautifully calm and peaceful waters provide a relaxing environment for visitors to soak up the sun and enjoy the outdoors.
The surrounding forests and mountain views create a serene atmosphere that is perfect for a weekend camping trip or a day trip to enjoy the beauty of Vermont’s wilderness.
6. Emerald Lake
Emerald Lake is a beautiful natural lake located in southern Vermont, near the town of Manchester. The lake is surrounded by the lush green forests of the Green Mountains, which offer a picturesque backdrop for visitors to enjoy. The water in the lake is also crystal clear and the sandy beach area provides a perfect spot to relax.
Emerald Lake’s calm and peaceful waters are perfect for those who want to take a leisurely paddle or swim. There is a designated swimming area that is monitored by lifeguards during the summer months, making it a safe and family-friendly destination.
The lake is only open to non-motorized watercraft, so it’s quiet. Fishing is excellent at the lake and hikers often frequent the area thanks to an abundance of local trails, including a section of the Appalachian Trail.
For those who enjoy hiking, the area around Emerald Lake offers a variety of trails for all skill levels. The nearby Green Mountains are home to some of Vermont’s most scenic hiking trails, providing stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
The park surrounding this lake of Vermont also offers 66 campsites and modern amenities that include flush toilets and hot showers. There are several picnic tables around the park that provide views of the lake, and a large picnic pavilion can be rented for events.
7. Lake Carmi
Lake Carmi, spanning 1,375 acres, is a unique and beautiful lake located in the northwestern part of Vermont. It is the fourth-largest lake in the state! Lake Carmi State Park sits along the southern edge of the lake, which is itself only a short distance from Vermont’s northern border with Canada.
This area offers a range of recreational activity amenities, including nearby hiking trails, fishing, day-use areas, and a boat launch. Because of its relatively shallow depth, warm water fish species are common, and anglers can often catch pike or walleyes.
Wetland forests and one of the largest peat bogs in the state also surround Lake Carmi, and these areas are ideal for nesting birds and many types of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.
Visitors can observe a variety of bird species such as osprey, bald eagles, and great blue herons, making it an ideal destination for birdwatching enthusiasts, wildlife enthusiasts, and photographers. Rare or endangered plant species, such as pitcher plants, are also frequently spotted.
The beauty of Lake Carmi lies in its tranquil and secluded atmosphere! The lake’s shoreline is dotted with small fishing camps, adding to the unique charm and character of the area. For those looking to enjoy a quiet and relaxing getaway, Lake Carmi is the perfect destination despite being one of the biggest lakes in Vermont.
8. Lake Bomoseen
Lake Bomoseen is the largest natural lake that is entirely within the state of Vermont. Situated in the Taconic Mountains, Lake Bomoseen and the surrounding Bomoseen State Park make an excellent adventure destination.
The park itself is 3,576 acres and provides access to several scenic hiking trails where visitors can explore the area’s history as a slate quarry. Another trail stretches all the way to a second nearby state park, Half Moon State Park.
Lake Bomoseen is known for its sandy beach where visitors can build a sand castle, soak up the sun, or take a dip in the lake’s tranquil waters. Boats, including canoes, kayaks, row boats, and pedal boats, are also available for rent.
The beach area features a concession stand and a picnic area, and a larger picnic pavilion is available to rent for events. This lake is also home to a variety of fish species such as lake trout, bass, and perch, making it an ideal destination for anglers.
Lake Bomoseen also has a rich history, which can be explored at the nearby Lake Bomoseen State Park. The park features several historic sites, including the remains of an old slate quarry and a historic train station. Visitors can also learn about the area’s history and ecology at the park’s visitor center.
9. Caspian Lake
Often considered the cleanest and clearest lake in Vermont, picturesque Caspian Lake is located outside of Greensboro. Caspian Lake is fed by several small streams and springs, which help to keep the water clear and clean.
Caspian Lake is large enough to boat or water ski on and is also popular for fishing and swimming! Fishing enthusiasts can expect to catch trout and even landlocked salmon. Lake Caspian features a public beach as well, so you can spread out a beach towel, have a picnic lunch, or enjoy family activities.
Visitors to the lake can also take in the beauty of the surrounding Green Mountains. It’s easy to spot a range of small mammals and songbirds, and hiking is popular. Thanks to the lake’s gorgeous surrounding landscape, photographers also flock to the area, particularly during the spring and fall months in Vermont.
Caspian Lake is also known for its secluded and peaceful atmosphere. Unlike some of the larger and more popular lakes in Vermont, it remains relatively uncrowded, providing visitors with a tranquil and relaxing getaway.
10. Lake St. Catherine
This lake is located in the western part of Vermont, not far from the New York border in the Wells and Poultney townships. Lake St. Catherine and its namesake state park are quite beautiful and the area offers plenty to see and do!
In addition to enjoying the scenic lake, visitors can stop at the park’s nature center to learn more about the lake and the mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians who call the area home.
Those who are interested in hiking can take a short trail through the park’s more wooded areas, where they can get a spectacular view of the lake and the nearby Birdseye Mountain.
Lake St. Catherine features two sandy beaches, swimming areas, and a playground. Fishing is also popular, as are kayaking and canoeing. Many people enjoy renting a pedal or row boat too. It even boasts a full, 18-hole disc golf course. So there truly is something for everyone in your family here!
There are also 50 RV and tent sites for campers, as well as cottages and vacation homes available for rent in the area for those who want to spend a few days or more enjoying the beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities. Sunsets at the lake are stunning so it’s recommended to stay awhile and enjoy them!
11. Silver Lake
Stretching 84 acres, Silver Lake is located in the idyllic farming region near the town of Barnard, Vermont. The lake sits in the middle of Silver Lake State Park. This area is picturesque with rolling hills and a beautiful forest. Its proximity to tourist locations such as Woodstock makes it a great destination.
There are no motorized boats allowed on the lake so it is a peaceful and quiet place to visit. Most people enjoy swimming or paddling on the lake, but local anglers also know that fishing there is exceptional! Fishing enthusiasts can often catch perch, pike, and bass.
Silver Lake State Park also offers a range of camping options, from 40 sites for tents and RVs to seven lean-to locations – perfect if you’re looking for an outdoor adventure!
Although the lake and park are most popular during the warmer months, winter turns the area into a different type of haven. People often visit Silver Lake to ice skate or ice fish on the lake, and there are nearby options for snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
12. Lake Dunmore
Situated between Leicester and Salisbury in the central part of Vermont, Lake Dunmore covers about 985 acres and is roughly 3 miles long. Branbury State Park is located along the lake’s eastern shore, and visitors can also explore the nearby Green Mountain National Forest, Otter Creek, and Sucker Brook, which is the primary water source for the lake.
At Branbury State Park, visitors can take advantage of the natural 1,000-foot beach along the lake’s shore. Swimming, paddle boarding, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular activities, and you can bring your own boat or rent one from the park.
There are also plenty of open, grassy areas along the lake’s shores, so you can have a picnic, start a game of frisbee, or simply enjoy the beauty of the area. Whatever activity you take on in this area, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience!
13. Seymour Lake
Featuring incredible scenery all year, Seymour Lake is located in the portion of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom. This large lake spans about 1,730 acres and is fed by two large streams.
Many people head to the lake during the autumn months because the foliage colors are beautifully rich and vibrant in the area. Summer also offers many activities, and visitors can swim, boat, or fish.
A nearby lake lodge makes it easy to stay in the area at any time of the year. Seymour Lake is also home to a dam that provides hydroelectric power to the area, and visitors interested in the history and development of the lake and dam can stop in to learn more about the dam’s construction and use.
14. Lake Shaftsbury
Small but scenic, Lake Shaftsbury and the surrounding state park are located in the southwestern portion of Vermont between the towns of Shaftsbury and Arlington.
Campers who wish to stay in the area can utilize one of the park’s 15 campsites or rent the on-site cottage, which sleeps six. The lake has a lovely sandy beach where you can enjoy some sunshine or take a dip.
There are also picnic and play areas nearby, and a snack stand and restrooms make the lake a convenient visiting spot for families. There are several nearby hiking trails too, but if you prefer to spend your time on the water, you can rent a boat.
For those who wish to hold a larger event or family gathering, a picnic pavilion, which seats 100 people and is equipped with electricity and grills, can be rented. Host your next summer family reunion here to make some memories together!
15. Lake Champlain
The largest and most well-known lake in Vermont and all of New England, Lake Champlain is a truly beautiful destination, and it’s often considered the best option for a destination. The lake is located in the northwestern corner of the state and borders New York.
The lake has many tiny islands that are fun to paddle to and enjoy as well as rocks and cliffs for daredevils who enjoy entering the water with a giant splash. Many people are familiar with Lake Champlain thanks to Champ, the lake monster said to live in the lake’s deep waters! Kids enjoy learning about Champ and hearing stories about him.
Lake Champlain is also known for its incredible beauty, sunsets, and wide range of activities visitors can enjoy on the water, at the shore, or in the nearby towns. Burlington is a fabulous city to visit – there are plenty of opportunities to shop, stop at a museum or center, stroll along one of the area’s downtown streets, or enjoy a creemee.
16. Griffith Lake
Situated along a portion of the Appalachian Trail in the Green Mountains, Griffith Lake, one of the highest lakes in Vermont, sits near the center of Vermont. Visitors often head to the area to enjoy exceptional hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Although small, the lake itself also provides many options for fishing, swimming, boating, or simply basking in the sun and the area’s natural beauty. There are also several campsites for those who wish to stay in the area.
Snowmobiling is permitted along most of the surrounding trails during the winter, but motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, and horses are not permitted during the rest of the year. Before heading out on a trail, remember to check the difficulty level. Several trails in the area are considered challenging, but there are a few family-friendly options as well.
17. Lake Iroquois
Technically a reservoir, Lake Iroquois sits amidst picturesque rolling hills in central western Vermont, not far from Lake Champlain. The lake, which is fed by springs and nearby tributaries, covers about 240 acres.
A sandy beach along the lake’s shore makes for a perfect picnicking or basking spot, and visitors can take a swim in the lake’s refreshing waters. A water slide at the beach makes things even more exciting, and there is a nearby beach volleyball court for anyone looking to let off some energy.
Fishing is also a common activity at the lake, and anglers catch catfish, bass, bluegill, crappie, and walleye frequently. Younger fishing enthusiasts can also take part in the lake’s annual children’s fishing derby!
18. Lake Elmore
Lake Elmore and Elmore State Park are located in the northern central part of the state. The lake, which drains into the nearby Lamoille River, sits just north of the CC Putnam State Forest. This lake is a great place for families as the facilities are quite welcoming.
This gorgeous scenic lake and area are known for their spectacular autumn colors. Visitors to the lake and park can enjoy a sandy beach or one of the area’s nearby hiking trails. A hike up to the fire tower At Lake Elmore is a fun activity enjoyed by many!
There are also several tent, RV, and lean-to options for camping. Showers with hot running water make a stay at the lake convenient and comfortable. You can also rend a boat if you prefer to spend your time right on the water. A picnic pavilion and an indoor function room located in the beach house are also available for rent.
19. Echo Lake
Nestled into the stunning scenery of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, Echo Lake covers 530 acres and is about 1.5 miles long, so it’s large enough to offer an array of activity options!
The lake is extremely popular with anglers. It’s stocked with rainbow, lake, and brook trout, but fishing enthusiasts can also catch wild trout, perch, bass, burbot, and landlocked Atlantic salmon.
A beach along the shore of Echo Lake has been designated for swimming from mid-May through mid-September, although the water can be quite chilly, even during the middle of summer. Boating is also popular on the lake, and there are many hiking options nearby.
20. Waterbury Reservoir
Waterbury Reservoir is located in central Vermont and is the heart of Little River State Park as well as Waterbury Center State Park. Swimming and boating are common activities at the reservoir, and there are several easily-accessed boat ramps.
Many people also head to the area to paddle board, hike or view wildlife. Because its location is so remote, backpacking and backcountry camping are frequent activities. There are also several remote campsites arrayed around the reservoir, so visitors can choose a secluded location to enjoy the lake and take in the scenery.
Eighteen miles of shoreline also mean you can stop to take a swim or cast a line wherever you like. The remote areas of the reservoir are quiet, calm, and extremely peaceful. It’s a very popular place for a reason and visiting here is one of the best things to do in Waterbury, VT when visiting!
21. Green River Reservoir
Located next to the state park that shares its name, Green River Reservoir is situated near the towns of Greensboro and Morristown, not far from Stowe. This is a gorgeous body of water and one of the most scenic and quiet places to enjoy a canoe camping trip.
The park’s remote camping options are campsites accessible by boat only and reserved in advance. Paddling is one of the most popular activities on the reservoir. Because the area is so remote, it’s also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and photographers.
The reservoir is also a quiet lake, meaning that only non-motorized boats or motorized boats that reach maximum speeds of up to 5 miles per hour are allowed, so visitors are guaranteed a relaxing experience that brings them closer to nature.
Green River Reservoir also sports 19 miles of shoreline where you can enjoy a picnic, bask in the sun, or head out into the lake for a swim. It’s a great place to visit for the day and take in the scenery!
FAQS: Best Vermont Lakes
Some popular questions arise about all of the lakes in Vermont so I have answered them and hope they provide you with the information you need for your visit!
What is the prettiest lake in Vermont?
That’s a tough question because there are so many beautiful ones! My personal favorite one is Lake Champlain because it is so large, has seemingly endless little islands to adventure to, and is great for swimming. It’s the 13th-largest natural lake in the United States and its waters stretch from Vermont to New York!
Can you swim in Vermont Lakes?
Yes, swimming is a wonderfully popular activity in many of Vermont’s lakes! However, it’s important to note that not all lakes are suitable for swimming, as water quality can vary depending on a number of factors, including the presence of pollutants, algae blooms, and other environmental factors. The Vermont Department of Health regularly monitors the water quality of many of the state’s public swimming areas.
How many lakes are in Vermont?
Vermont is known for its many lakes and ponds, with over 800 bodies of water that are larger than 10 acres in size. However, the exact number of lakes in Vermont can be difficult to determine, as there is no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a lake versus a pond.
What is the cleanest Vermont lake?
The cleanest lake in Vermont is generally considered to be Lake Willoughby. Lake Willoughby is a natural freshwater lake located in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont, surrounded by mountains and cliffs that rise up to 1,000 feet above the water. It is considered by some to be the best lake in Vermont.
What is Vermont’s largest lake?
Lake Champlain is Vermont’s largest lake. The lake covers approximately 435 square miles, with roughly two-thirds of the lake lying within the borders of Vermont and the remainder in New York and Quebec, Canada. Lake Champlain is a natural freshwater lake and is situated between the Adirondack Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east.
Can you swim in Lake Champlain?
The lake is relatively clean and safe for swimming, although it is always important to exercise caution when swimming in any body of water. It is also a good idea to check local weather and water quality conditions before swimming. Water quality in the lake can vary depending on factors such as rainfall, temperature, and the presence of contaminants, and it is important to avoid swimming in the lake during times of high bacterial or algae levels.
Why is Lake Champlain famous?
The lake played a significant role in the American Revolution and the War of 1812, with key battles fought on its waters and shores. In the centuries that followed, the lake became a hub of commercial activity, with steamboats, ferries, and other vessels transporting goods and people across its waters. Today, Lake Champlain remains a vital resource for the communities that surround it, providing recreational opportunities, drinking water, and more.
What is the best lake for boating in Vermont?
Lake Champlain is often considered the best lake for boating in Vermont. Spanning over 400 square miles, it is perfect for a variety of recreational activities, from fishing to sailing and kayaking. The breathtaking views and numerous islands offer endless exploration opportunities, too. Lake Champlain also has many boat launches and marinas available to visitors, making it easier to access the best parts of the lake.
The Wrap-Up on Best Lakes in Vermont
It’s quite a list, right? Despite its small size Vermont has such a great variety of lakes and reservoirs to enjoy! Whether you choose to visit just one of these spectacular lakes or stop to enjoy the natural beauty of several, you can rest assured that your trip will be fun, relaxing, and enjoyable.
Each lake offers something different, from abundant nearby hiking trails to excellent fishing, or breathtaking scenery. After visiting one lake, you’ll want to make a point to reach as many of Vermont’s other lakes as possible. Make a road trip out of it!