23 Best State Parks of Vermont for the Ultimate Outdoor Adventure

A panoramic view of peak fall foliage in Smugglers Notch, Vermont

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Prepare to go on a journey of natural splendors and outdoor escapades as you visit the state parks of Vermont.

With 56 of them scattered throughout the state, adventurers are spoilt for choice. 

From the towering mountain peaks to the picturesque shores of its numerous lakes and rivers, the Green Mountain State’s terrain is a paradise for nature enthusiasts. 

The state parks boast a variety of amenities to ensure your visit is comfortable and enjoyable. 

Many offer well-maintained camping sites, picnic areas, and restroom facilities. 

Trails crisscross through dense forests and lead to stunning viewpoints, and recreational activities like swimming, boating, and fishing are available in parks near various bodies of water.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through our collection of some of the best state parks in Vermont where you’ll get the essential information you need to make the most out of your visit.

If you’re looking for a statewide getaway, check out our Vermont bucket list or the best places to visit in VT, along with our other Vermont guides.

Best Vermont State Parks

To make navigation easier, we have arranged the following list of VT state parks starting from the southern part of the state up to the northeast.

Molly Stark State Park

Many Vermont state parks are small since it is a small state.

Molly Stark State Park is a few hundred acres in southern Vermont with a small campground, fire tower, and hiking trails.

The campground has 23 standard sites and 11 lean-to sites, and the hiking trail to the fire tower is under two miles.

Mount Olga is the main attraction of the park, and the 2,000-foot peak provides views of both Vermont and Massachusetts when atop the fire tower.

Woodford State Park

Located between mountains, Woodford State Park is centered around the Adams Reservoir, a small lake in the park.

The main trail in the park leads around the lake, three miles of relatively flat trail.

A large campground supplements the park, with over 100 campsites and 4 reservable cabins.

Paddling is popular on the small lake, with paddleboarding being extremely popular due to the lake’s sheltered condition.

Trout fishermen also come to Woodford to try Adams Reservoir, where brook trout can be caught.

Jamaica State Park

A deep river valley comprises Jamaica State Park, and the property has many activities and facilities for visitors.

Experienced kayakers are welcome on the three miles of the West River in the park, with many small rapids to navigate.

Fishermen enjoy the West River for trout and bass opportunities, and there is a hiking trail that runs the whole length of the river to find the perfect spot.

Ball Mountain Lake is present at the north end of the park for beginning kayakers and paddle boarders as well.

Visitors are also welcome to swim at the Salmon Hole in the West River, the park also has facilities to play volleyball and horseshoes.

Lowell Lake State Park

Lowell Lake State Park is a small park with limited amenities but provides an authentic nature experience for visitors.

Paddlers are welcome on the lake, and Annie Island in the middle of the lake even has a picnic site for those willing to make the trip.

The main feature of the park other than the lake is the four-mile trail that encircles it.

This trail is flat but also gets a low amount of traffic, so it may be overgrown- and it takes hikers through gently rolling hills and the wetlands surrounding the lake.

Emerald Lake State Park

Emerald Lake State Park is popular among locals for its geography and scenery.

The park consists of a natural lake formed between mountains, and the campgrounds have sites that overlook the lake from almost 200 feet above it.

Popular with families because of its beach and swimming amenities, paddling and fishing are also popular at the lake.

A number of hiking trails traverse the hills flanking the lake, with multiple vista points on most of them.

There is also a relatively easy trail that encircles the lake in the park.

Lake St. Catherine State Park

Lake St. Catherine State Park is perfect for families who just need a day at the beach or fishermen who need a place to launch their boats.

The 117 acres on the northeast shore of the lake provide a campground and public spaces for water-based recreation.

A small trail system occupies the land near the northern boundary of the park, and there is also a disc golf course near the trailhead.

The lake’s clear water attracts campers from multiple states, and the park’s small size makes it easy to navigate.

Bomoseen State Park

West of Rutland is Bomoseen State Park.

Lake Bomoseen is the largest lake entirely within the state of Vermont, providing great water recreation opportunities from this park.

Located on the western shore, the park has more than 50 campsites, a beach, and a boat ramp.

The main plus of this park, however, is its access to other parks.

Half Moon Pond and Taconic Mountains Ramble State Parks are both nearby, and Bomoseen provides an extra campground for those looking to spend time at those locations.

Bomoseen’s main trail even connects it to Half Moon Pond State Park.

Lights on Lake Bomoseen at night

Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park

In west-central Vermont, Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is undeveloped and only contains hiking trails and historic structures.

The park is large and is usually divided into two pieces of land: one east and one west of Monument Hill Road.

Hiking is the only activity available at this park, but it is well worth doing, with four waterfalls, multiple vistas, a Japanese garden, and Mount Zion, the main peak in the park.

The Falls Trail is recommended for first-time visitors to the park, but the park warns visitors they will get wet on this trail.

There are four waterfalls on the trail that are little-known and a treat to discover.

Half Moon Pond State Park

Rounding out the Bomoseen area is Half Moon Pond State Park.

Half Moon Pond mainly consists of a 50-site campground on a pond north of Bomoseen Lake.

There is a short trail around the pond, but the main activities are fishing and paddling.

As a little-known spot in western Vermont, Half Moon Pond provides a getaway for locals and visitors alike.

Silver Lake State Park

In central Vermont, Silver Lake State Park provides similar amenities to Half Moon Pond.

The park is less than 100 acres but contains a mid-size campground and a beach, as well as paddling and fishing opportunities.

Silver Lake is also a popular destination in the winter though.

When it gets late enough in the season, the lake opens for ice skating, and many people spend time doing so every year.

Kettle Pond State Park

Nestled deep in the mountains east of Montpelier, Kettle Pond State Park is a quiet campground and pond that serves Groton State Forest.

Visitors can walk around the pond for a relatively easy hike, or they can also summit Owls Head Mountain for a bird’s eye view of the pond from across the road.

Other than that, the park’s main feature is the small campground and adjacent beach.

Fishermen and paddlers also enjoy the quiet, calm Kettle Lake, which sits hidden away from the other state park campgrounds in the area.

Molly’s Falls Pond State Park

North of Kettle Lake is Mollys Falls Pond State Park, which is situated on a large reservoir with many backcountry picnic areas and campsites.

The pond tends to have equal popularity in the summer and winter, with it being a hotspot for ice fishing.

Development within the park has progressed in recent years, with a day-use boat ramp area appearing on the northwest side of the lake recently.

Molly’s Falls Pond provides a true backcountry camping experience, as the only way to access most of the campsites is by boat, and they are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For more camping opportunities in VT, check this guide.

Waterbury Center State Park

Waterbury Center State Park, like other parks in north central Vermont, is a small park situated on a lake.

While it’s a small park, it’s popular with locals and visitors compared to other Vermont State Parks for its water recreation.

The park also boasts one of the only universally accessible nature trails in Vermont, with the one-mile Peninsula Trail being the only trail in the park.

Its abundance of charcoal grills also makes Waterbury Center an optimal place to have a picnic.

Smuggler’s Notch State Park

One of Vermont’s most popular state parks, Smuggler’s Notch is well-known for its thousand-foot cliffs, nearby skiing amenities, and proximity to Mount Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont.

Two of the most popular trails in the park take visitors to either Mount Mansfield or Sterling Pond, a natural lake that sits at over 3,000 feet above sea level.

A panoramic view of peak fall foliage in Smugglers Notch, Vermont

Mount Mansfield has a visitor center and skiing amenities near the top as well for hikers who aren’t sure if they can do it with just self-support.

While the park’s campground is small, the immediate park vicinity is packed with lodging amenities.

The Cliff House is a restaurant located in the park near the top of Mount Mansfield Ridge, and the Butler Lodge south of the park is a place where hikers can spend nights.

If you’re looking for state parks near Stowe VT, this one is just around a 15-minute drive.

You may also like our guides to hiking in Stowe and things to do in this town during fall and winter.

Smugglers Notch historic sign in Stowe Vermont

Button Bay State Park

Near the southern end of Lake Champlain is Button Bay State Park, which is almost 1000 acres.

The park’s lodging amenities include a 53-site campground and four cabins.

Button Bay is one of the only state parks in Vermont to have a staffed swimming pool with lifeguards, and due to its proximity to Burlington, it is a popular place.

Rocky points and islands directly offshore provide wonderful paddling opportunities for visitors to the park, there is also a hiking trail that leads to the rocky point at the west end of the park.

You may want to check out VT lakefront rentals available around the area should you decide to stay overnight without camping.

Burlington Bay champlain boat Vermont

Niquette Bay State Park

Looking for state parks near Burlington VT?

Niquette Bay State Park is just north of the city and sits in the hills flanking one of Lake Champlain’s bays.

Day-use only, the park’s amenities range from paddling and fishing to hiking and swimming.

A strong trail system climbs and descends the many hills in the park, with multiple vista points over the lake and its islands.

Paddlers enjoy the many coves the park has to offer, and the park’s beach is almost 2,000 feet long and stays shallow for hundreds of feet into the lake.

Grand Isle State Park

Grand Isle State Park is one of Vermont’s most popular due to its proximity to population and amenities.

Located on Grand Isle north of Burlington, hiking, swimming, paddling, and fishing are all high on the park’s activity list.

A large campground occupies most of the park, with over 100 sites, and a few cabins are also available for reservation.

This park has a boat launch and the nature center at Grand Isle also has hours when it is open for education and questions.

Kill Kare State Park

Located at the site of an old boys’ summer camp, Kill Kare State Park is small but contains the only public access to another state park, Burton Island.

Kill Kare is known for its beach and fishing opportunities, as well as the ferry that departs multiple times a day to Burton Island State Park.

All camping done in this area must be done on Burton Island, which only allows tent camping.

The only hiking trails in the area exist on Burton Island.

Back on the mainland, the Rocky Point House is a building in Kill Kare State Park and has been converted into a museum showcasing the history of the building, from the hotel era, summer camp era, and today.

Burton Island State Park

Just a short 10-minute boat ride from Kill Kare State Park, Burton Island State Park features a 3-mile shoreline and hiking trails.

For those who want to camp or stay overnight, there are campgrounds and cabins available in this 253-acre park.

And in case you go hungry, the Burton Island Bistro serves up go-to foods including drinks.

Knight Island State Park

Knight Island is perhaps the most remote Vermont state park.

Not far northwest of Burton Island, the only way to access the park is by water taxi or personal watercraft.

There are two water taxis that service the park, neither of which is affiliated with the state of Vermont.

A number of campsites dot the island, all remote and hike-in.

Short, flat trails crisscross the island.

Knight Island is for adventurers looking for a remote camping experience and who want to get away from people.

Alburg Dunes State Park

At 625 acres, Alburg Dunes State Park is one of the largest parks on Lake Champlain.

Almost the entire park is wetland with no human access, but the beach is the highlight.

Since the area became a state park in 1996, the state is focused on protecting what remains of the dunes, since parts of them were bulldozed for sand before the state acquired the land.

A mile-long walking path also exists within the park, which takes visitors from the parking area to residential developments on the Point of Tongue.

Crystal Lake State Park

Located in the town of Barton, Crystal Lake State Park also focuses on beaches and water recreation, just on a smaller lake.

Crystal Lake is one for paddling, being flanked by two 400-foot hills; the lake is almost three miles long and half a mile wide.

Fishermen also enjoy the lake, and in some places, it can reach nearly 100 feet deep.

The park and beach are day-use only with one exception: the Crystal Lake Cabin sleeps six and is the only lodging facility in the park.

Crystal Lake is the place in north central Vermont where people spend a day at the beach.

Maidstone State Park

Vermont’s northeasternmost state park, Maidstone, is remote and far removed from any town or city of size.

The park has a day-use area and a campground, both located on the east side of Maidstone Lake, the park’s namesake.

Maidstone Lake is a little-known ice-fishing destination, and the park is popular in winter and summer.

A small system of hiking trails occupies the campground area, which climbs the hills behind the road and runs along the lake.

Paddling and fishing are popular activities at Maidstone in the summer as well.

Final Thoughts

We hope our list of VT state parks inspired you to plan for your next outdoor adventure in the state.

Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

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