Boating Information

Boating Overview

Vermont is known for its mountains and lakes, and there are many opportunities to get on the water in Vermont State Parks. Sometimes called the sixth great lake, Lake Champlain has wide open expanses, hidden bays and even state parks located on islands, providing great boating for both paddlers and motor boaters. Green River Reservoir offers 19 miles of undeveloped shoreline for quiet water paddling and the Connecticut River makes a great part day, full day or multi-day river trip.

Many state parks have car top and trailer boat launches and there is a marina at Burton Island State Park.

Parks with Boating

The following parks are boat-accessible. Motor boats are allowed at all parks, though not all parks have trailer boat launches on site. Certain parks do not allow gas, outboard motors.

Northwest

Park Water Body/ Type Trailer Boat Launch Pedal Boat Rentals Canoe Rentals Kayak Rentals Row Boat Rentals SUP Rentals
Alburgh Dunes Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Burton Island Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Grand Isle Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Kamp Kill Kare Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Knight Island Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Knight Point Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Lake Carmi Lake Carmi/ Large Lake
Niquette Bay Lake Champlain/ Large Lake
North Hero Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Sand Bar Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Woods Island Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake

* Lake Champlain is a very large body of water where wind and waves are common. Conditions can change very quickly on the lake. Only accomplished paddlers should attempt paddling far offshore.

Northeast

Park Water Body/ Type Trailer Boat Launch Pedal Boat Rentals Canoe Rentals Kayak Rentals Row Boat Rentals SUP Rentals
Boulder Beach Lake Groton/ Medium Lake
Brighton Spectacle Pond/ Small Lake
Crystal Lake Crystal Lake/ Medium Lake
Elmore Lake Elmore/ Small Lake
Green River Reservoir Green River Reservoir/ Medium Lake
Kettle Pond Kettle Pond/ Small Lake
Little River Waterbury Reservoir/ Medium Lake
Maidstone Maidstone Lake/ Medium Lake
New Discovery Osmore Pond/ Small Pond
Ricker Pond Ricker Pond/ Small Pond
Stillwater Lake Groton/ Medium Lake
Waterbury Center Waterbury Reservoir/ Medium Lake

Southwest

Park Water Body/ Type Trailer Boat Launch Pedal Boat Rentals Canoe Rentals Kayak Rentals Row Boat Rentals SUP Rentals
Bomoseen Lake Bomoseen/ Large Lake
Branbury Lake Dunmore/ Large Lake
Button Bay Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Emerald Lake Emerald Lake/ Small Lake
Half Moon Pond Half Moon Pond/ Small Pond
Kingsland Bay Lake Champlain*/ Large Lake
Lake Shaftsbury Lake Shaftsbury/ Small Lake
Lake St. Catherine Lake St. Catherine/ Medium Lake
Woodford Adams Reservoir/ Medium Lake

* Lake Champlain is a very large body of water where wind and waves are common. Conditions can change very quickly on the lake. Only accomplished paddlers should attempt paddling far offshore.

Southeast

Park Water Body/ Type Trailer Boat Launch Pedal Boat Rentals Canoe Rentals Kayak Rentals Row Boat Rentals SUP Rentals
Camp Plymouth Echo Lake/ Medium Lake
Jamaica West River/ Quickwater & Whitewater
Silver Lake Silver Lake/ Small Pond
Wilgus CT River/ Quickwater & Flatwater

Boat Rental Fees

Note: Private companies that rent boats in state parks may have different rates

Min. time rental Price/ hour Price/ half day Price/ full day
Rowboat/Canoe/Single Kayak 1 hour $10 $30 $40
Tandem Kayak 1 hour $12 $32 $50
Stand-up Paddleboard .5 hour $10 N/A N/A
Pedal Boat .5 hour $7 N/A N/A

Osmore or Kettle Pond overnight canoe rental to access remote sites: $35 per night per tandem canoe

Top 5 Parks for Paddling

Burton Island State Park

Accessible only by boat or passenger ferry, Burton Island State Park sits just off of St. Albans Point in the northern reaches of Lake Champlain.  Known in the northeast as the “Sixth Great Lake”, Lake Champlain and its islands provide a paddler’s paradise with large expanses of open water, quiet bays and stunning views of both Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks.  Forming a large part of the border of Vermont, New York and Canada, the Vermont side of Lake Champlain is known as the “West Coast of New England” and is famous for its fabulous sunsets.

The park has tent, lean-to and paddlers-only campsites as well as a marina for power and sail boats.  Amenities such as hot showers, a store and bistro, nature programs, hiking trails, wood and ice are welcome additions.  Burton Island is part of the Lake Champlain Paddler’s Trail, a water trail traversing the length of the lake that provides primitive campsites every 8 to 10 miles and is managed through a public-private partnership committed to protecting the beauty of Lake Champlain and its natural and cultural resources.  A warning to novice paddlers:  the Lake can change from calm to extremely choppy very quickly so be prepared to change your plans, adjust your route, or wait things out if safety considerations so dictate.

Camp Plymouth State Park

Located in Vermont’s beautiful Central Lakes region, Camp Plymouth State Park sits on the shores of the long and narrow Echo Lake, near Ludlow, Vermont.

The park has large expanses of impeccably maintained lawns shaded by stately mature trees, a large sandy beach, concession stand and canoe, kayak and pedal boat rentals.  Because the lake is so long and narrow, it makes for some interesting paddling.

Starting from the park beach, paddle south past the park’s beautiful natural areas, then continue south past summer cottages, then back into the woods.  The lake narrows to little outlets with current that passes under bridges.  If you are a good paddler you can easily navigate these stretches, which makes for a fun mini “river trip” experience.  Or, if you’re not quite as accomplished, you can walk your boat through until the lake widens again. Once you pass the camps, you will go through a channel full of lily pads, turtles, swallows and herons, before finally ending at the peaceful Lake Rescue. The full round trip will take several hours, but you can make the trip as long or short as you wish by simply turning around when ready.

Lake Carmi State Park

Kayaking at Lake Carmi State Park
Kayaking at Lake Carmi State Park

Lake Carmi, with a 1375-acre surface area, is the fourth largest natural lake entirely within Vermont. It is 7.5 miles around, averages about 20 feet deep, and is 33 feet at the deepest point. The lake supports northern pike, walleyes, and other warm water species.  Water from the lake drains north into Quebec's Pike River then into Lake Champlain. Lake Carmi was once much larger. In the thousands of years since the last ice age cleaned it out, the southern end of the original lake has filled in with silt and vegetative matter to create wetland forests and the third largest peat bog in Vermont.

While paddling on Lake Carmi, you might see a bald eagle or osprey. As you paddle around the lake you will notice a many and varied display of lakeshore cottages and cabins. Most of the shoreline is privately owned, and except for the park frontage on the south shore and a public launch ramp on the north end, there are few places to stop for a break along the shore.

The state park includes more than two miles of lake frontage on the southeast shore of Lake Carmi. A 140-acre bog lies within Lake Carmi State Park and is a designated State Natural Area.  Some of the land is under an agricultural lease so the open fields are maintained by farming activity.

Waterbury Center State Park

Surrounded by mountains, Waterbury Center State Park is located on a peninsula on 860-acre Waterbury Reservoir, formed when the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp.) constructed a flood control dam in the 1930’s.

This park offers great opportunities for paddling, swimming, fishing and picnicking.  There is a nature nature trail great for all hiking abilities.  While primarily a day use park, there are also a number of primitive boat-to-only campsites along the lake shore, and Little River State Park is located on the opposite shore.

The lake has three distinct sections, the smaller of which is inaccessible to powerboats, thus enabling a more remote paddling experience.  There are many rocky beaches from which to enjoy an impromptu swim or picnic and it is not unusual to see a bald eagle, beaver, or moose.  Canoe, kayak and pedal boat rentals, instruction and classes by Umiak Outdoor Outfitters are available.  An added bonus:  Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (and tour) is right down the road.

Wilgus State Park

On the other side of the state, the Connecticut River forms a 275-mile border between Vermont and New Hampshire. The largest river in New England, the Connecticut starts from its source in a small lake at the Canadian border and empties into Long Island Sounds 410 miles later.

In Vermont, the northern section of the river is clear, cold and wild with abundant trout and class II – III rapids.  As it continues southward, the river becomes wider, deeper and more peaceful. Wilgus State Park is situated on a peaceful stretch of the river in Southern Vermont, where paddlers of all abilities will enjoy a single or multi-day float.  This park is a well known stop-over spot for those on multi-day river trips.  The park has cabins, tent and lean-to campsites as well as a group camping area.  Hot showers, wood and ice, canoe and kayak rentals are available.  A local outfitter also runs a shuttle service and/or arranges half day and full day river trips from the park.

Specialty Boating

Island Runner Ferry

The Island Runner is a passenger ferry that runs between Kill Kare State Park and Burton Island State Park on St. Albans Bay in Lake Champlain. It carries people and bikes (no vehicles or boats) back and forth several times a day. If you don't have your own boat, this is the only way to get to Burton Island.

The ferry operates from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend and is piloted by a licensed captain and friendly crew. The ferry ride between Kill Kare and Burton Island is about ten minutes.

If you just want to spend a few hours on Burton Island, a ferry ride makes for a fun day excursion. If you are camping on Burton Island and you don't have your own boat, this is the only way to get you and your gear over to the island. Once on Burton Island, you can either use the carts provided to get your gear to your site, or you can choose to pay for gear delivery.

See current ferry schedule and fees (PDF)

White Water Releases at Jamaica State Park
 (May 6-7 and September 23-24, 2017)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers periodically schedules water releases from the Ball Mountain Dam for recreational paddling on the West River. The controlled releases make for great whitewater paddling. Jamaica State Park is the center of activity for the West River whitewater events. In the fall, a truck shuttle (fee service) operates on a two-mile stretch of the West River Trail within the park which allows paddlers to maximize time on the most popular section class II to IV rapids.

This year, the Corps has two releases scheduled. The first one is May 6 and 7, 2017. The campground will be open from 2 PM Friday, May 5 through 11 AM Monday, May 7 for the release. Reservations may be made with a 2-night minimum through our Reservations Center or through our online reservation portal. If you plan to paddle all day Sunday, you either need to vacate your campsite by 11 AM or book your site through Sunday night.

The Fall release is tentatively scheduled for September 23 and 24, 2017. Campsites are prioritized for paddlers and a 3 night minimum stay is required. In the fall, Vendors will be on hand selling food and gear. The truck shuttle is tentatively scheduled to run 8:30AM – 3:30 PM on Saturday and 9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Sunday. Fees for the shuttle are $15 for a single ride and $25 for a one-day pass. Shuttle tickets are sold on site; cash only accepted. Times and length of the releases and shuttle may vary due to water conditions.

Day use for the event weekends is paid at the park entrance. Bracelets will be issued for day entry ensuring fast re-entry for those that leave the park. Per person day fees are valid at Jamaica or any other park on the day paid. Paid parking passes off site are no longer valid for park entry.

Special note for all campers during the whitewater events: There is a MAXIMUM of 8 campers per site. In recent years, camping registration has become increasingly chaotic and difficult to manage. New this year, Park management will be in touch with campers that have sites reserved for the fall weekend to obtain a list of occupants for campsites. Each camper will be issued a weekend pass unique to each individual that will allow access to camping and day use upon re-entry during the time of the camping stay. Please be sure your campsite occupants are registered with the Park Manager. People not registered to your camping party will not be allowed to camp.

Camping space at Jamaica State Park fills quickly in advance for event weekends, so book your stay now.

More information is available at Jamaica State Park.

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