Best Kayaking in Vermont

Kayaker in red life jacket, paddling along the shores of a lake in Vermont.
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When it comes to the best kayaking experiences in Vermont, you’re in for a treat. Vermont boasts an array of stunning waterways that cater to paddlers of all skill levels, from serene rivers winding through picturesque farmland to pristine lakes nestled amidst the Green Mountains. Whether you’re seeking tranquil escapes, thrilling whitewater adventures, or a blend of both, Vermont’s kayaking destinations offer a diverse range of experiences. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the finest kayaking spots the Green Mountain State has to offer, each showcasing its unique charm and natural beauty. Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker or new to the sport, you’ll find plenty of inspiration to plan your next paddling adventure in Vermont.



Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain is a premier destination for kayaking enthusiasts, offering an array of experiences suitable for paddlers of various skill levels. As one of the largest freshwater lakes in the United States, Lake Champlain stretches approximately 120 miles from north to south, providing ample opportunities for exploration and adventure. Whether you’re a novice kayaker looking for a leisurely paddle or an experienced adventurer seeking new challenges, Lake Champlain has something to offer everyone.

Reasons to Kayak in Lake Champlain:

  • Island Exploration: Lake Champlain boasts numerous islands, each with its unique character, making it a kayaker’s paradise for island hopping and exploration.
  • Historical Sites: Paddle past fascinating historical sites, including lighthouses that have guided ships for centuries and well-preserved shipwrecks that offer a glimpse into the past.
  • Spectacular Sunsets: Enjoy breathtaking sunsets over the Adirondack and Green Mountains, creating a magical and serene atmosphere during evening paddles.
  • Birdwatching: Bird enthusiasts will be thrilled by the diverse avian population, with opportunities to spot bald eagles, ospreys, and other bird species.
  • Waterfront Dining: Lake Champlain offers unique access to waterfront restaurants and cafes, allowing you to savor delicious meals with stunning views.

Recommended Gear: PFD, Paddle Holder, Dry Bag, Waterproof Phone Case, Sunscreen, Water Bottle, Snacks


Missisquoi River

The Missisquoi River winds its way through the northernmost part of Vermont, spanning approximately 80 miles in length. It originates from Lake Carmi in Franklin County, flows through pastoral farmland, meanders through lush forests, and eventually empties into Lake Champlain near the town of Swanton. Its relatively manageable size makes it an excellent choice for kayakers seeking a more relaxed and contemplative paddling experience.

Reasons to Kayak in the Missisquoi River:

  • Gentle Current: The Missisquoi River’s calm and gentle current makes it an ideal destination for beginners or those seeking a relaxing kayaking experience.
  • Scenic Beauty: Traverse through picturesque northern Vermont landscapes, with the river meandering through lush forests and pastures, providing a scenic feast for the eyes.
  • Wildlife Viewing: The river’s serene banks are home to a range of wildlife, including deer, beavers, and herons, offering excellent opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Peaceful Atmosphere: Away from the crowds, the Missisquoi River offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, perfect for a tranquil day on the water.
  • Varying Ability: Whether you’re a novice looking for a gentle and leisurely paddle or an experienced paddler seeking a bit more excitement, the Missisquoi River offers a range of water conditions.

Recommended Gear: PFD, Binoculars, Waterproof Phone Case, First Aid Kit, Insect Repellent, Navigation Map, Bilge Pump


Clyde River

Kayaking on the Clyde River in Vermont is an exceptional adventure that transports paddlers to a world of pristine wilderness and crystal-clear waters. Nestled in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the Clyde River offers a unique kayaking experience characterized by its remote setting, unspoiled beauty, and tranquil atmosphere. The Clyde River flows through Vermont’s pristine Northeast Kingdom, covering approximately 37 miles. Originating from Island Pond, this picturesque river winds its way through thick forests, untouched wilderness, and serene countryside before merging with Lake Memphremagog near the town of Newport.

Reasons to Kayak in the Clyde River:

  • Crystal Clear Waters: The Clyde River is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, allowing kayakers to peer deep into the river’s depths and observe aquatic life below.
  • Remote Setting: Paddling on the Clyde River feels like entering a remote and pristine wilderness, with few signs of development along its shores.
  • Wilderness Scenery: Surrounded by lush forests and unspoiled nature, the Clyde River offers an immersive experience of Vermont’s natural beauty.
  • Great for Fishing: Anglers will appreciate the river’s abundant fish populations, making it a favorite spot for trout and bass fishing.
  • Relaxing Escape: Whether you’re seeking solitude or a romantic getaway, the Clyde River provides a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Recommended Gear: Extra Water, Waterproof Headlamp, Towel, Emergency Flares, Dry Change of Clothes, Kayak Repair Kit, Snacks


Green River Reservoir

The Green River Reservoir in Vermont offers a unique and serene paddling experience amidst the unspoiled beauty of a pristine, undeveloped reservoir. Located in the northern part of the state, the Green River Reservoir is a kayaker’s paradise, catering to a range of skill levels while providing access to a tranquil natural environment

Reasons to Kayak in Green River Reservoir:

  • Undeveloped Reservoir: Green River Reservoir is an undeveloped gem, offering kayakers the opportunity to paddle in a natural and unspoiled environment.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Wildlife enthusiasts will delight in the chance to spot loons, eagles, and other animals in their natural habitat along the reservoir’s shores.
  • Peace and Serenity: Enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere of Green River Reservoir, far removed from the noise and distractions of city life.
  • Camping Options: The reservoir offers designated campsites along the shoreline, allowing you to extend your kayaking adventure with an overnight stay in nature.
  • Stargazing: After a day of paddling, take in the breathtaking night sky, as the reservoir’s remote location provides excellent stargazing opportunities.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Paddle Holder, Dry Bag, Water Shoes, Bilge Pump, Sun Hat


Lake Willoughby

Paddling on Lake Willoughby in Vermont is a breathtaking journey through a landscape of towering cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and lush forests. Nestled within the Green Mountains, Lake Willoughby is often regarded as one of the most picturesque lakes in the state, offering kayakers a unique and immersive experience in the heart of Vermont’s natural beauty.

Reasons to Kayak in Lake Willoughby:

  • Cliff Lined Shores: Kayaking on Lake Willoughby means paddling beneath towering cliffs that frame the lake, creating a dramatic and awe-inspiring backdrop.
  • Scenic Vistas: Take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains, including Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor, which add to the natural beauty of the area.
  • Clean, Clear Waters: Lake Willoughby is known for its exceptionally clear and cool waters, making it inviting for a refreshing swim or paddle.
  • Swimming Opportunities: In addition to kayaking, you can take refreshing swims in the lake’s pristine waters, making it an ideal spot for water enthusiasts.
  • Water Activities: Besides kayaking, the lake offers opportunities for fishing and paddleboarding, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Recommended Gear: Sun Hat, Insect Spray, Cup Holder, Water Bottle, Paddle Holder, Water Shoe, Snorkel


Lamoille River

One of the distinctive features of kayaking on the Lamoille River is the variety of terrain you’ll encounter. The river provides both calm stretches, ideal for beginners and relaxation, and mild rapids, which add a touch of excitement and challenge for more experienced kayakers. The Lamoille River winds its way through some of Vermont’s most beautiful farmland, offering paddlers a unique perspective of the state’s agricultural heritage. As you glide along, you’ll be greeted by rolling fields, rustic barns, and the timeless beauty of pastoral landscapes.

Reasons to Kayak in the Lamoille River:

  • Picturesque Farmland: Paddle through charming farmland and wooded areas, providing a diverse and picturesque backdrop for your kayaking adventure.
  • Variety of Terrain: The Lamoille River offers a mix of calm stretches and mild rapids, catering to kayakers with varying levels of experience and preferences.
  • Wildflower Blooms: Depending on the season, you can experience vibrant wildflower displays along the riverbanks, adding to the beauty of your journey.
  • Wildlife Sightings: Keep an eye out for wildlife, as you may encounter deer, turtles, and various bird species during your exploration.
  • Rich Heritage: Paddling along the riverbanks, you can explore charming towns and communities that are often steeped in history.

Recommended Gear: PFD, Paddle Holder, Dry Bag, Waterproof Phone Case, Sunscreen, Water Bottle, Snacks


Lake Memphremagog

Lake Memphremagog spans both the United States and Canada, making it a one-of-a-kind kayaking destination. Paddling on this lake provides an international element to your adventure, as you can cross the U.S.-Canada border while enjoying its beauty. As you paddle along the lake’s shoreline, you’ll witness a mix of natural landscapes and lakeside communities. The lake’s shores are dotted with charming towns and cottages, providing a diverse and engaging backdrop for your journey.

Reason to Kayak in Lake Memphremagog:

  • International Boundary: Kayaking on Lake Memphremagog offers a unique experience as you can cross the U.S.-Canada border, providing an international element to your adventure.
  • Island Exploration: The lake boasts several islands, each with its own character and charm, making it a delightful destination for island hopping and exploration.
  • Clear Water: Enjoy the exceptionally clear and pristine waters of Lake Memphremagog, allowing you to peer into the depths and appreciate the aquatic life.
  • Diverse Shoreline: Witness a mix of natural landscapes and lakeside communities as you paddle along the shoreline, offering a diverse and engaging experience.
  • Cultural Experiences: Besides kayaking, you can also explore the communities around the lake, discovering local culture, cuisine, and attractions, adding depth to your adventure.

Recommended Gear: Kayak Wheels, Waterproof Headlamp, Towel, Emergency Flares, Dry Change of Clothes, Kayak Repair Kit, Snacks


Otter Creek

Paddling on Otter Creek in Vermont is a delightful journey through a landscape that seamlessly blends picturesque farmland, serene woodlands, and a winding waterway. This charming river, which stretches through the heart of the state, offers paddlers an opportunity to immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of Vermont’s countryside.

Reasons to Kayak in Otter Creek:

  • Historic Charm: Paddle along Otter Creek, passing through charming towns and villages with historical architecture and scenic riverfront views.
  • Abundant Wildlife: Keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, beavers, and muskrats, as they make their home along the creek.
  • Natural Beauty: Enjoy the natural beauty of the creek’s surroundings, with lush greenery and picturesque landscapes to accompany your kayaking journey.
  • Art and Culture: Explore the local art galleries, museums, and cultural sites in towns along Otter Creek, combining kayaking with a cultural outing.
  • Picnic Spots: Numerous riverside parks and picnic areas provide excellent opportunities to take a rest.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Sunscreen, Paddle Holder, Dry Bag, Water Shoes, Bilge Pump, Sun Hat


New Haven River

The New Haven River in Vermont is a hidden gem for kayaking enthusiasts. This pristine river winds its way through the lush countryside of Addison County, offering paddlers a serene and picturesque setting to explore. With its calm waters, scenic beauty, and abundant wildlife, the New Haven River provides a tranquil escape into the heart of Vermont’s natural landscapes.

Reasons to Kayak in New Haven River:

  • Scenic Beauty: The New Haven River offers paddlers breathtaking views of Vermont’s picturesque countryside. As you kayak along its tranquil waters, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Wildlife Encounters: The riverbanks of the New Haven River are home to a variety of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, beavers, turtles, and a diverse array of bird species as you glide through their natural habitat.
  • Calm Waters: The New Haven River typically features calm and gentle currents, making it an ideal spot for kayakers of all skill levels.
  • Tranquil Escape: Kayaking on the New Haven River provides a peaceful and stress-free escape into nature. The absence of motorized boats ensures a tranquil kayaking experience.
  • Access and Convenience: The river offers multiple access points along its course, allowing kayakers to choose from various put-in and take-out locations.

Recommended Gear: PFD, Binoculars, Waterproof Phone Case, First Aid Kit, Insect Repellent, Navigation Map, Bilge Pump


Winooski River

The Winooski River offers a one-of-a-kind urban kayaking adventure as it meanders through parts of Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, and the city of Winooski. Paddlers can experience the unique perspective of these urban areas from the water, providing a different and engaging view of these communities. This dynamic river, which flows through the heart of the state’s capital, Montpelier, and the city of Winooski, provides paddlers with the opportunity to explore both natural and urban landscapes.

Reasons to Kayak in the Winooski River:

  • Urban Paddling: Experience a unique urban kayaking adventure by paddling through parts of Vermont’s capital, Montpelier, and the city of Winooski, offering a different perspective on these urban areas.
  • Diverse Wildlife: Encounter a variety of wildlife, including waterfowl, beavers, and herons, as the river winds its way through urban and natural landscapes.
  • Historical Significance: Learn about the historical significance of the river, which played a vital role in Vermont’s industrial past, as you paddle past remnants of old mills and factories.
  • Cultural Attractions: Explore cultural attractions in Montpelier and Winooski, such as art galleries, shops, and restaurants, and enjoy the blend of nature and culture.
  • Community Events: Depending on the season, you may have the opportunity to participate in or observe community events and festivals along the river, providing a unique kayaking experience.

Recommended Gear: Spray Skirt, Waterproof Headlamp, Towel, Emergency Flares, Dry Change of Clothes, Kayak Repair Kit, Snacks


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