Summer is hiking season but it’s also paddling season. Many Burlington Section members have kayaks or canoes. Sometimes we want an all-day adventure, but often we just want to get out on the water for an hour or so after work. Luckily for us, there are great places for a quiet paddle not far from the city.
Much of the shoreline of this pond is protected by the Nature Conservancy and the University of Vermont. The water is surrounded by ledges, cliffs and marshes. The marsh at the northern end of the pond is a good place to see ducks, herons, turtles and possibly beavers. There’s also a trail from the parking area that takes walkers into the woods and onto small bluffs. The area features a wide assortment of ferns, some of which are rare. (Visitors shouldn’t pick or dig any plants in the area.) By late summer, Shelburne Pond can have a strong smell of decaying vegetation, so it’s best to visit in June or July.
Take Williston Road (Route 2) to Hinesburg Road (Route 116). Go over the interstate. After 5+ more miles, turn right onto Pond Road. About a mile and a half down this road, there’s a large State Fishing Access parking lot.
Arrowhead Mountain Lake
This dammed up part of the Lamoille River in Georgia and Milton has a split personality. The southern half feels like a deep, wide river and often has fast-moving motorboats. The northern half is a shallow marshy area that’s great for paddling and provides a rich habitat for many birds. There are several osprey nests close to the water. You might also see terns, herons, kingfishers and ducks. (The northern marshes are great for duck hunting. Paddlers should stay away during that season!)
You can get to Arrowhead Mountain Lake by taking I89 to exit 18 and then turning south on Route 7. Almost immediately, turn onto 104A West. Or take Route 7 all the way and turn right onto 104A after driving by the length of the lake. The fishing access is on your right 1.5 miles down 104A.
This little gem doesn’t offer exciting paddling, but it’s close to Burlington and fine for a lazy summer afternoon. It’s also a great place for boating with children or trying out a new canoe, with no chance of being swamped by anything large or noisy. The big parking lot is uphill from the pond, but the kind people at the Winooski Park District have provided wheeled carts for transporting boats up and down the hill. The grassy slope calls out for picnics. There’s a beautiful walking trail that goes around most of the pond.
To get to Colchester Pond, take Route 15 through Essex Junction. Watch for McDonald’s on your right and Ehler’s RV on your left. Soon after, there’s a traffic light at Old Stage Road. Turn left and then make an almost immediate left onto Lost Nation Road. Follow LNR, turning when it does. (Don’t take Discovery Road.) Make a left onto Curve Hill Road. Go right at the bottom of the hill onto Colchester Pond Road.
The Kingsland Bay Fishing Access area is a gateway to Lake Champlain and Little Otter Creek. If you’re looking for a quiet paddle with few motorboats, head up Little Otter Creek rather than out toward the Lake.
Drive down Route 7 to Ferrisburgh. Opposite the small green and church, turn right onto Little Chicago Road. Look for a sign for Kingsland Bay State Park. Just beyond it, turn right onto Hawkins Rd. In a little over a mile, there’s a “slang” (a low part of the road with water on both sides). The fishing access parking lot is just past this.
Planning to paddle on Lake Champlain?
Before heading out on the broad lake, a paddler should be an experienced boater, a good swimmer, and wearing a PFD (personal flotation device). It’s also a good idea to go with a small group rather than alone. The bays and inlets generally offer calmer water, but anywhere on the lake you’re likely to encounter wind, waves and wakes from big boats.
Check out www.lakechamplaincommittee.org for information about the Lake Champlain Paddlers’ Trail. The Lake Champlain Basin Program started this project with help from the National Park Service and the New York State Natural Heritage Trust. The web site provides a history of the project, maps, information about overnight camping areas, and guidelines for responsible use of the trail.