Kayaking in Vermont: 10 of the Best Places to Paddle and Canoe

Kayaking isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Vermont. The state is best known for its maple syrup, majestic green mountains, and wooden covered bridges. However, there is much more to Vermont. 

Vermont boasts more than 4,000 miles of rivers and 40,000 acres of lakes, making it a top kayaking destination. Whether you’re new to kayaking or an expert kayaker, Vermont has something for you. 

From calm waters ideal for an easygoing paddle to challenging lakes and rivers, kayakers of all levels can enjoy Vermont’s waterways. In this post, we introduce you to some of the best places to Kayak in Vermont. 

1. Lone Rock Point, Burlington, VT

You’ll find Lone Rock Point a short distance from Burlington’s stunning waterfront. Nature lovers flock to Lone Rock Point to admire Vermont’s Green Mountains created by tectonic shifts hundreds of millions of years ago. 

Visiting Lone Rock Point is a summer treat. Kayaking along the Lone Rock Point’s cliffs is awe-inspiring. Be sure to time your visit so you can see the sunset. As the sun sinks below the horizon in Lone Rock Point, you’ll enjoy a feast for the eyes as the lights reflect off the gray shale. 

There’s a paid camping ground at North Beach, less than a mile away from Lone Rock Point. Keep paddling along the shoreline into Appletree Bay, and you’ll get to enjoy views of forested bluffs, Appletree Point, and Leddy Beach. 

2. Connecticut River, VT

Stretching 410 miles through the heart of New England, the Connecticut River flows through the border between Vermont and New Hampshire. Depending on where you paddle one the Connecticut River, you’ll experience class I to class III rapids. 

You’ll find the fastest water on this river along the 69-mile stretch of the upper Connecticut River traveling from West Stewartstown near Quebec to Gilman, Vermont. Apart from this area, you’ll find kayaking along the Connecticut River a mostly calm experience. 

As you Kayak along the river, you’ll experience a range of scenery, including old farms, the Columbia-covered bridge, and timberland. If you need a break from the water, take a detour to hike the 3,1666-foot high Monadnock Mountain. 

There are over 50 campsites along the Connecticut River, so be sure to bring your camping gear. 

3. The White River, VT

White River, VT by Doug McGrady (CC BY 2.0)

Famous for having one of the longest continuous kayak runs on a major New England river, the White River’s run between Stockbridge and Bethel is a Vermont whitewater classic. 

Along the first three miles of this route, you’ll find off and on Class II rapids. The last stretch of the run until you reach Bethel is quick water. 

You can ride the White River’s rapids to the Connecticut River. This route is mainly quick water with some Class II rapids. You’ll only want to do the run to the Connecticut River if you’re an experienced kayaker because you’re sure to encounter Class III rapids. 

The water tends to be clear, shallow, and fast, making it an enjoyable adventure. 

There are lots of remote campsites along the river, some of them are private. Visit the White River Partnership to check out a map of the area and a guide with access points, tubing routes, hiking trails, paddling trips, and much more. 

4. Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT

If you’re an angler, you may already be familiar with Lake Champlain, which often ranks among the best bass lakes in the US. In addition to excellent bass angling, Lake Champlain is a great spot for kayaking. 

Champlain Canal and Paddlers’ Trail offer outstanding kayaking experiences with the canal connecting Lake Champlain to New York’s Hudson River. 

You can access the lake from various points, including state parks and public boat ramps. More than 40 locations on New York and Vermont public and private lands along the Lake Champlain Paddler’s trail have access to over 600 lake shore and island campsites. 

5. Lake Morey, Fairlee, VT

Boasting a 600-acre lake, Lake Morey Resort is a great place to spend a relaxing summer day. Located near the small town of Lyme in Eastern Vermont, the picturesque lake is a hidden gem that borders New Hampshire.

You’ll find Lake Morey Resort on Lake Morey’s shore, offering access to the lake’s beaches. Kayaking and canoeing are included with overnight stays at the hotel. If you aren’t staying at the resort overnight, you can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards if overnight guests aren’t using them. 

Besides kayaking, there’s a winding path along Lake Morey’s shore where you can walk, jog, or go for a bike ride. There are all types of watersports available just steps from the hotel, including wakeboarding, water skiing, and tubing. 

If you have your own kayak or canoe, you’re welcome to use it anywhere around the lake. 

6. Emerald Lake, VT

At only 20 acres, Emerald Lake is relatively small compared to the other Kayaking places on our list. However, don’t let its size deter you. Located inside Vermont’s Emerald Park, the lake is a great place for new kayakers. 

No motorized vehicles are permitted on the lake, making it especially safe for those new to the sport. You can rent a kayak on-site or bring it with you. Woodlands and forests surround the lake, making it a popular spot for all types of water sports and hiking. 

Smallmouth bass, northern pike, and yellow perch all call the lake home, so it’s a great fishing spot. The park has a beach, picnic areas, and a campground for overnight visits. The Long and Appalachian trails are close by, making the park popular with hikers. 

7. Green River Reservoir State Park, VT

If you’re looking for a tranquil day out on the water in your Kayak, Green River Reservoir State Park is worth checking out. The river boasts a 19-mile heavily forested shoreline with a 5-mph speed limit. The area has become very popular, making it difficult to find a parking space. 

There are 28 remote campsites along the river. They are only accessible by boat and are located one to two miles from the boat launching site, so come prepared to portage. 

Given the park’s popularity, you’ll want to call ahead to reserve a campsite in advance. 

A trip to Green River Reservoir makes a great weekend escape. Get up early to explore the undeveloped area and watch the fog as it rises from the lake. You’ll experience an unparalleled calm as the only sounds you hear are your paddles moving through the water. 

8. The Winooski River, VT

The Winooski River, VT by Michael Martine (CC BY 2.0)

The Winooski river’s path flows through the center of Vermont’s Green Mountains. It’s the state’s second-longest river and has a little something for paddlers of all levels. As you journey down the river, you’ll travel through Vermont’s biggest city, pastoral landscapes, the state capital, and finally, end up at Lake Champlain. 

If you want to take in some spectacular scenery, kayak between Bolton and Richmond, the site of the Winooski’s annual Onion River Race and Ramble. This section is one of the most popular along the river and features breathtaking scenery with the Green Mountains in the background. 

You’ll also get to enjoy Bolton and Richmond’s picturesque rolling farmland. 

The river has rapids ranging from Class I to Class III, depending on where you are and the water level. From tall cliffs to islands with sandy beaches, the Winooski River has a lot to offer kayakers.

9. The Missisquoi River, VT

The Missisquoi River, VT by Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Located near Vermont’s border with Canada in the northernmost part of the state, the Missisquoi River is a gorgeous 12.5-mile loop along the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Nature-loving kayakers will enjoy the section of the loop that passes through the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge. 

The river travels from Quebec through Vermont’s farmland to Lake Champlain’s Missisquoi Bay. Along the way, kayakers enjoy stunning views of the Green Mountains. This 46.1 miles adventure travels through Vermont’s designated National Wild and Scenic Rivers. 

Along the way, you can stop for a few days to enjoy Enosburg Falls in Richford. Be sure to bring your camping gear if you plan to tackle a large portion of the river. There are campsites along the way.

10. Lake St. Catherine, Poultney, VT

Located near Vermont’s border with New York, Lake St. Catherine is a 930-acre lake that boasts some of the best kayaking and kayaking in the state. The area is teeming with trees and wildlife, making it perfect for a peaceful kayaking trip. 

You can rent a kayak on-site or bring your own. There’s also a boat ramp if you want access to the main lake. If you’re going to stay a few days, there’s a 61-site campground with 50 tent and trailer spaces and 11 lean-to sites. 

It’s a fully equipped campground with showers, a toilet, two beaches, and a snack bar. 

Final Thoughts on Kayaking in and Around Vermont

There you have it, some of the best places to Kayak in Vermont to help you plan your next trip. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day kayaking adventure or a short day trip, Vermont has many rivers, lakes, and national parks ready to explore. 

Get your gear ready. Kayaking in Vermont is an experience you don’t want to miss.