Beautiful State Parks in Vermont
Vermont maintains one of the best networks of state parks in the country, and when you stay with us here at Basin Harbor at the doorstep of Lake Champlain, you’ve got some of the most popular right at your fingertips!
Here’s a look at a mere five parks out of many within convenient striking distance of your Basin Harbor luxury perch: each showing off some of the natural beauty and rich history the Green Mountain State has in spades.
Set on the largest island in Lake Champlain—the roughly 32-square-mile Grand Isle, also called South Hero Isle—Grand Isle State Park ranks among the most-visited state parks in Vermont. Boasting better than 4,000 feet of lakefront, it’s a fine place to take a dip or cast a line, and the Nature Center—the only remaining building of the historic Birchcliff resort from which the state park was established in 1959—offers interpretive programs and other activities.
Only about a half-hour from Basin Harbor, Mount Philo was the very first state park established in Vermont, back in 1924. It encompasses the 968-foot promontory of Mount Philo, which serves up a fantastic view of Lake Champlain, the noble skyline of the Adirondacks in New York, and, to the east, the long spine of the Green Mountains, including iconic Camel’s Hump, the third-loftiest peak in Vermont and site of its own much-loved state park.
You can drive right up to the Mount Philo summit or take a ¾-mile hiking trail to the top. Among the best times to visit is just around the corner: The park’s vantage provides some of the region’s best viewing of hawks, eagles, and other raptors on their fall migration.
The Green Mountain pass called Smugglers’ Notch comes drenched in stories: Set below Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in the Greens, the Notch got its name from the illegal trade route it provided to Montreal after President Thomas Jefferson banned commerce with Great Britain and Canada in 1807. Smugglers’ Notch was also a portal for runaway slaves as well as a black-market liquor funnel during Prohibition.
The scenery’s beautiful, and you can immerse yourself in it via the extensive hiking network, which includes part of the famous Long Trail as well as the Hellbrook and Sterling Pond trails.
Site of an old pioneer settlement, Little River State Park nestles within the Mount Mansfield State Forest and offers plenty of its own attractions, not least the waterfront along Waterbury Reservoir as well as trails for hiking and mountain biking.
Button Bay State Park’s our neighbor here at Basin Harbor, and from its ancient reef fossils and the lakefront hardwood forest protected in the Button Point Natural Area to all the boating and biking, it’s well worth a visit during your stay. (You can read a more complete profile of the park with this previous Basin Harbor blogpost.)