A selection of VT State Parks

Button Bay

3.5 stars out of 5.

Camp site map

Camp sites are large - we had everything between the car on the left and the tent on the right, all the ways from the camera to the road (near the tiny sign way in the background). The sites are also rather open, but it is possible to take one of the sites in a corner for a little seclusion and easy access to the water.

Easy hiking through a state nature site is about a mile from the tent sites, but still within the park. While the scenery isn't peak in the early fall, it is still decent with plenty of exploration available. In the summer, flowers and wildlife are supposed to be excellent.

Access to the bay itself is easy, and can be managed discretely at night. A couple islands are in the area, one of which can be waded to, the other within short swimming distance. The bay itself appears shallow and is a reserve for ducks.

Even more secluded beach areas can be reached off the trail a bit.


4.5 stars out of 5.

Camp site map

Several camp sites (1-3 and some lean-to's) are at the edge of a slope over a good sized brook. There is no swimming, but plenty of hiking in the area including Mount Mansfield (trail right next to the camp sites) which is VT's highest peak (above sea level) and Smuggler's Notch (~30 min drive). Camp sites are very well cared for and have shrub and trees surrounding them. Lake Champlain is about a 45 min drive for good swimming.

The brook can be accessed from multiple directions including the camp sites, down the road to the park, or further up the mountain.

Grand Isle

2.5 stars out of 5.

Camp site map

Grand Isle comes highly recommended by locals. While it is a decent park, and is certainly average, there are some problems. Camp sites that I saw are either on grass (good for tents that aren't free standing, and comfortable) and in the open or surrounded by brush and covered with fine gravel (no grass). I didn't see any sites with grass and some degree of privacy. There is, however, excellent access to the water, and other popular parks on the Lake are within a short (less than 30 min) drive.

Sandbar (swimming)

4.5 stars out of 5 for swimming and recreation. No camp sites.

There are no camp sites at Sandbar (that I know of), however, this is an strongly recommended site for summer swimming. The water is, as the name implies, extremely shallow. One can wade at least a half-mile out and the water still be only waist high. This is a great place to play with a frisbee or other floatable, have a BBQ (good cooking spots near the water), or just hang out in the sand. The photos shown here are during low tide. High tide comes up the beach a few more feet, but adds only a couple inches of depth. Very nice.

Smuggler's Notch

4.5 stars out of 5 for hiking. Only the Notch itself reviewed here, not the camp site.

I can't recommend the Notch strongly enough. Many trails of historical importance (Revolutionary War, Prohibition, etc) run throughout the region. Other "trails" can be found by just bounding up the mountain. The possibilities could keep one busy for weeks.

Much of the area was formed by glacier action during the last ice age. As a result, numerous small caves can be explored within the rocks.

I found this area that looked like a dry stream and proceeded to hike straight up in this area. There were spectacular views, but I eventually reached an impassable area just shy of the peak.

North Hero State Park

4 stars out of 5.

Camp site map

This site is relatively unknown, opening the possibility that traffic would be low. Nearly all sites are surrounded with brush and trees. Loops 1 and 2 (see campsite map) have good sites for tents but are further from the Lake (although within walking distance. Loop 3 is lightly gravel covered (no grass) but closer to the lake. All sites have a good deal of woods around them, good fire "pits" (cinder block with grills), and appear to be well tended.

Small beach areas are available a short hike past Loop 3, including a boat launch.

Full set of campsite maps

High res images, unprocessed

Finally, only in Vermont...

Campsite pictures taken from the VT state parks web site.

All other images and text Copyright © 2002 Michael V. Osier. All rights reserved.