Vermont is always known for its majestic mountains and stunning summit views, and although it is the only landlocked state in New England, it makes up for its lack of ocean shores with beautiful freshwater lakes and striking waterfalls. Known for its deep blue and crystal clear water, Vermont’s lakes are pretty spectacular. Formed from glacial rivers of ice thousands of years ago, these lakes showcase dramatic cliffs and rolling hills opposing the serene bodies of water.
When visiting these lakes in the fall, the options are endless from hiking and canoeing to wining and dining. Vermont’s lakes provide opportunities for every adventure no matter what it is you enjoy. Vermont lakes are the best way to cool off on an unseasonably warm fall day and enjoy the best of Vermont’s scenic colorful landscapes. A trip to Vermont wouldn’t be complete without checking out one of our impressive lakes. Here are some of Vermont’s best lakes to add to your bucket list this fall.
12 Best Lakes in Vermont
Lake Champlain (Burlington, Champlain Islands)
Vermont’s largest lake, Lake Champlain is known for tales of Champ, (the lake monster said to live in the lake) and its access from Burlington and the Champlain Islands. Historic sites range along the length of Lake Champlain with history dating back 400 years. This gorgeous lake provides opportunity for Vermont style “beach” days, sailing, motor boating and so much more. A beautiful scenic bike path, known as the Greenway runs along the waterfront from the north end of the city to the south. Along this path are numerous campsites, parks and beaches for enjoying the lake. A bike ride along the Greenway is a great way to see the best of Vermont Foliage along the vast lake. Lake Champlain is also a popular fishing destination and is home to the famous smallmouth bass.
Silver Lake (Barnard, Vermont)
Silver Lake is a prime destination if you are staying in the Woodstock or Barnard area during the fall. The park closes after Labor Day so you will not be able to enter during September/October. But there is still wonderful opportunity to enjoy the lake with waterfront access across the road from the Barnard General Store. There is a grassy area with picnic tables, grab a sandwich at the store and enjoy it at one of the picnic tables. You may catch locals fishing on their boats, kayaking or canoeing. If you have a small boat of your own, there is a small boat launch available.
Silver Lake also has a short trail you can hike that takes you partially around the lake through their campsites. Due to the park being closed during the fall season you will need to park at the store or church across the road and walk into the park. You will find the entrance to the trailhead at camp 28. This will give you a more private view of the lake and it is dog friendly. There is a nice spot partway to stop and let your dog swim if they so choose!
Lake Willoughby (Westmore, Vermont)
Lake Willoughby is located in Willoughby State Forest in Westmore, Vermont. This gorgeous lake is unique in the majestic views of Mt. Pisgah and Mount Ho. Lake Willoughby is known for it’s pristinely clear water and offers opportunity for swimming, hiking, camping and fishing. Willoughby Lake Beach located on the north end of the lake is a family friendly with a sandy public beach. Feeling adventurous check out the nude beach on the south end of the lake. Hike Mt. Pisgah for gorgeous sweeping views of the lake and mountain vistas.
Lake Bomoseen (Castleton, Vermont)
Located amongst the Taconic Mountain range, Lake Bomoseen State Park has one of Vermont’s largest lakes and offers an ample amount of recreational activities for foliage fun. Pets are only permitted in certain areas and the state park is closed after Labor Day weekend. Try the Bomoseen Hiking Loop for beautiful lake views!
Lake Saint Catherine (Poultney)
Lake Saint Catherine State Park in Poultney, VT is a wonderful place for family fun including campsites, a nature center, sandy beaches, grassy fields, playground and concession stand with rentals for rowboats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats. The lake park closes after the 2nd weekend in October but you can still do the Lake St. Catherine Park Loop which is an easy, 1 mile loop that is dog friendly.
Lake Elmore is located in Elmore State Park. The town of Elmore is self proclaimed as the “The Beauty Spot of Vermont”. The lake and Mt. Elmore which rises from the lake are two of it’s most distinguished features. Elmore is a great spot for swimming, hiking, camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, stand up paddle boarding, and even has a volleyball net and horseshoe pits. Open through the 2nd weekend in October this is a lovely spot to venture and enjoy the sweeping fall foliage views. After mid-October you can still hike Mount Elmore and enjoy 360 degree views of the colorful leaves and lake.
Crystal Lake (Barton)
Crystal Lake in Barton, Vermont has a gorgeous sandy beach running just under a mile long. Here you can swim, play horseshoes, grill, rent stand up paddle boards and boats and fish for trout, perch, pickerel, small mouth bass and panfish. There are also picnic tables to enjoy. The park closes after Labor Day weekend but drive along route 5 for gorgeous views of the foliage and lake and stop to enjoy along the way.
Lake Memphremagog (Newport)
Located in Newport, Vermont, Lake Memphremagog boarders Canada and is one of Vermont’s best kept secrets in the beautiful Northeast Kingdom. A great spot to relax on a bench overlooking the serene lake and enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage or take a short stroll on walkways to a pretty peak overlooking the lake. This is a perfect setting for a picnic or head to the East Side Restaurant and Pub for a yummy bite to eat.
Lake Dunmore (Addison County)
Lake Dunmore in Addison County, Vermont is the home of Branbury State Park. Branbury State Park is a great destination for camping, hiking, swimming, boating, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, picnicking, mountain biking, nature programs and volleyball. The park closes the 2nd Monday in October but hiking trails are still accessible with gorgeous autumn views of the lake and colorful mountains.
Lake Rescue (Ludlow, Vermont)
Lake Rescue in Ludlow, Vermont is a popular destination for swimming, fishing, waterskiing and sailing during the summer and ice-fishing, skating and snowmobiling during the winter. During the fall, Lake Rescue is a wonderful spot to canoe, fish or kayak and enjoy the gorgeous autumn hues. Rescue is known for their fishing and although they do not have sandy beach access there is a boat loading area with grass for lounging by the water.
Echo Lake (Plymouth, Vermont)
Echo Lake in Plymouth, Vermont is another lake within short distance from Woodstock. This beautiful family friendly lake has park access and an abundance of options for swimming, boating and camping. The Camp Plymouth State Park has a sandy beach, picnic tables, yard games, grill sites, campsites and cabins for rent. The park is open until the end of September and pets are permitted on leash in the park. If you are visiting in October you can still enjoy hiking on the Vista Trail, an easy 1-mile loop with beautiful foliage views of Okemo mountain but dogs are not permitted.
Chittenden Reservoir (Rutland, Vermont)
Chittenden Reservoir is another popular fishing spot with options as well for kayaking and canoeing during the fall season.