12 Awesome Things to Do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont

by Jen
Awesome Things to Do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont
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As I first gazed upon the serene waters of Lake Willoughby, nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, I was captivated by its pristine beauty and tranquil charm. This hidden gem, often likened to a slice of Switzerland in New England, offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Each visit to Lake Willoughby is a journey into a world where nature’s splendor takes center stage, from the majestic cliffs of Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor to the crystal-clear waters of the lake itself.

Lake Willoughby is not just a picturesque destination; it’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Whether it’s kayaking in the calm waters, hiking the scenic trails, or simply basking in the tranquility of the lakeside, the lake offers a multitude of experiences. The area’s rich history and charming small-town feel add to its allure, making it a perfect retreat for those seeking both relaxation and adventure.

In this guide, I’ll take you through the best things to do in and around Lake Willoughby, Vermont. Drawing from my own explorations and insights from locals, this article is your gateway to experiencing the enchanting beauty and diverse activities that Lake Willoughby has to offer. Let’s embark on this journey together and discover why this stunning lake is a must-visit destination in Vermont. To help you make the most out of your next trip, here are my top 12 things to see and do in Lake Willoughby, Vermont.

The awesome places to visit at Lake Willoughby, Vermont right now

Best Places to Visit at Lake Willoughby

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do at Lake Willoughby? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this picturesque vacation spot in Vermont. So keep reading to discover all these unique Lake Willoughby places to visit.

Are you looking to experience swimming, kayaking, and fishing in crystal-clear waters? Or would you prefer hiking around the lake and exploring the scenic beauty of the surrounding landscape? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees at Lake Willoughby can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions at Lake Willoughby that you should know about.

1. Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor

For those who love to lace up their hiking boots and hit the trails, the paths leading up Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor are a must-try. These trails offer some of the most breathtaking views of Lake Willoughby and its surrounding landscapes. The North and South trails of Mount Pisgah, each offering a unique perspective of the lake, are perfect for intermediate hikers. The South Trail, in particular, features an overlook that provides a panoramic view of the lake and the distant mountains.

Mount Hor’s trail network caters to a range of skill levels, with some paths being more challenging than others. The summit of Mount Hor rewards hikers with a different but equally stunning view of the lake and the Northeast Kingdom. These hikes are not only about the destination but also about the journey, as you pass through lush forests and encounter local wildlife.

Exploring these trails is among the best things to do in Lake Willoughby for outdoor enthusiasts. They offer a perfect combination of physical challenge and natural beauty. Remember to bring your camera, as you’ll want to capture the picturesque scenes that unfold around every bend.

Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor is one of the awesome things to do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont.
The Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor trails offer stunning views of Lake Willoughby, ideal for intermediate hikers.

2. Northern Waters of Lake Willoughby

Embark on a paddling adventure in the Northern waters of Lake Willoughby, where the tranquility and natural beauty of the area truly come to life. This part of the lake is away from the more frequented southern end. It offers a serene and almost untouched landscape, perfect for kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts. The northern end is narrower and provides a more intimate experience with the lake, surrounded by steep cliffs and lush forests.

Local outfitters near the northern shore offer kayak and canoe rentals, catering to all skill levels. They can also provide valuable insights into the best routes and hidden spots worth exploring. As you paddle through these calm waters, you’ll notice the majestic views. The untouched northern shoreline offers a stark contrast to the developed southern end.

This area is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. It’s common to spot loons, herons, and other birds, especially during specific times. The best times for bird spotting are in the early mornings or late afternoons. The northern end’s quieter waters make it an ideal spot for birdwatching and nature photography.

Paddling in the northern part of Lake Willoughby is more than just an activity. It’s an opportunity to connect with the unique aspects of the lake’s ecosystem. This experience stands out as one of the best things to do in Lake Willoughby, Vermont.

Paddle through peaceful northern waters, surrounded by steep cliffs and lush forests.
Paddle through Lake Willoughby’s peaceful northern waters, surrounded by steep cliffs and lush forests.

3. Willoughby State Forest

A visit to the Willoughby State Forest is a must for anyone exploring Lake Willoughby, Vermont. This expansive forest, covering over 7,000 acres, is a treasure trove of natural beauty and outdoor activities. The forest is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts and wildlife watchers.

One of the highlights of the forest is its network of well-maintained hiking trails. These trails vary in difficulty, offering something for everyone, from casual walkers to serious hikers. The paths wind through dense woodlands, open meadows, and along babbling brooks, providing a peaceful and immersive nature experience.

Engaging in a hike or a leisurely walk in Willoughby State Forest is one of the coolest things to do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont. The forest’s trails lead to some hidden gems, like small waterfalls and secluded ponds, which are perfect for a quiet picnic or a moment of reflection.

In addition to hiking, the forest is also a popular spot for birdwatching. The diverse habitats within the forest support a variety of bird species, making it an exciting destination for bird enthusiasts.

Whether you’re looking to stretch your legs on a scenic hike or simply enjoy the tranquility of the forest, Willoughby State Forest offers a refreshing escape into nature’s embrace.

Discover the vast beauty of Willoughby State Forest—a 7,000-acre paradise for nature enthusiasts.
Discover the vast beauty of Willoughby State Forest—a 7,000-acre paradise for nature enthusiasts. | Source: https://www.trailfinder.info/

4. South End of Lake Willoughby

The South end of Lake Willoughby is home to a beautiful, sandy beach that’s perfect for a day of relaxation and fun by the water. This beach area, known for its clear waters and stunning mountain views, is a favorite among both locals and visitors. It’s an ideal spot for families, with shallow areas that are great for children to play in safely.

The beach is well-equipped for a full day’s outing. There are picnic tables and grills available, making it easy to enjoy a lakeside barbecue or picnic. The open space also allows for various beach games and activities, from volleyball to frisbee.

One of the unique aspects of this beach is its view. The surrounding cliffs and mountains offer a picturesque backdrop, perfect for sunbathing or swimming. The beach’s scenery enhances the overall experience for visitors. The water here is refreshing and clean, inviting swimmers and waders alike to enjoy a dip on a warm day.

Visiting the beach at the south end of the lake is one of the most enjoyable and relaxing things to do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont. It’s a place where you can unwind, soak up the sun, and take in the natural beauty of the area. Whether you’re looking to swim, play, or just lounge on the sand, this beach offers a perfect summer escape.

South End of Lake Willoughby is popular for its clear waters, mountain views, and family-friendly shallow areas.
South End of Lake Willoughby is popular for its clear waters, mountain views, and family-friendly shallow areas.

5. Westmore Museum

A visit to the Westmore Museum offers a unique cultural experience at Lake Willoughby, Vermont. Located in the quaint town of Westmore, near the lake, this museum is a treasure trove of local history and artifacts. It provides a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past, from its natural history to the stories of the people who have lived and worked around the lake.

The museum’s exhibits include historical photographs, geological displays, and artifacts from the early days of the surrounding communities. One of the highlights is the collection of Native American artifacts, which offers insight into the region’s earliest inhabitants. The museum features exhibits on the natural history of Lake Willoughby. These exhibits include information on its formation and the diverse wildlife in the area.

Exploring the Westmore Museum is one of the more unique things to do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont. It’s an educational and engaging activity, perfect for families and anyone interested in learning more about the lake’s rich history and natural environment.

The museum is typically open during the summer months. It offers guided tours, making it an ideal stop for visitors. It provides a deeper understanding of the lake’s ecosystem and history. Moreover, the knowledgeable staff are always eager to share stories and answer questions, enriching the experience for visitors.

6. Willoughby Lake Outlet

For nature enthusiasts and birdwatchers, the Willoughby Lake Outlet is a must-visit spot at Lake Willoughby. This area, where the lake’s waters flow into the Willoughby River, is a thriving habitat for a variety of bird species. The mix of aquatic and forest environments creates a unique ecosystem that attracts birds throughout the year.

Visitors to the outlet can expect to see species such as loons, herons, and ospreys, especially during the warmer months. The area is also a stopover for migratory birds, making it an exciting spot for birdwatching during the spring and fall migrations. The peaceful and natural setting of the outlet allows for uninterrupted observation of these birds in their natural habitat.

The Willoughby Lake Outlet is accessible by a short hike from the main road, offering a tranquil escape into nature. The trail leading to the outlet is well-maintained and provides a pleasant walk through the woods. Along the way, visitors can enjoy the sounds of the flowing water and the calls of the birds.

This location is not only a paradise for birdwatchers but also a great spot for anyone looking to enjoy the quieter side of Lake Willoughby. It’s a place where you can connect with nature, observe wildlife, and enjoy the peacefulness of the Vermont outdoors.

The Willoughby Lake Outlet, where the lake meets the Willoughby River, is a haven for diverse bird species and nature lovers.
The Willoughby Lake Outlet, where the lake meets the Willoughby River, is a haven for diverse bird species and nature lovers.

7. Route 5A

A scenic drive along Route 5A offers a captivating way to experience the beauty of Lake Willoughby. This road runs along the eastern side of the lake, providing stunning views of the water and the surrounding landscape. The drive is particularly enchanting as it curves around the lake, revealing new vistas at every turn.

Starting from the southern end of the lake, the drive along Route 5A is a scenic journey. It takes you through some of the most picturesque scenery in Vermont. As you head north, the road offers several spots to pull over and enjoy the views of the lake against the backdrop of Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor. These lookout points are perfect for taking photos or simply soaking in the natural beauty.

One of the highlights of this drive is the section near the northern end of the lake. Here, the road ascends slightly, offering elevated views. This part of Route 5A is especially popular during the autumn months when the fall foliage adds a spectacular burst of color to the landscape.

Driving along Route 5A around Lake Willoughby is one of the most scenic and enjoyable Lake Willoughby things to do. It’s an experience that combines the pleasure of a leisurely drive with the opportunity to witness the stunning natural beauty of the area. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this drive is a memorable way to explore the charm of Lake Willoughby.

Fall foliage is the best time for sightseeing on Route 5A
Fall foliage is the best time for sightseeing on Route 5A

8. WilloughVale Inn and Cottages

For those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Lake Willoughby, a stay at the WilloughVale Inn and Cottages offers the perfect opportunity. Located on the shores of the lake, this charming inn offers a peaceful retreat. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the water and surrounding mountains.

The WilloughVale Inn offers a variety of accommodations, from cozy rooms in the main inn to private cottages along the lakefront. Each option provides a comfortable and rustic experience, allowing guests to enjoy the beauty of the area in a relaxed setting. The cottages, in particular, are ideal for families or groups, offering more space and privacy.

Guests at the WilloughVale Inn can enjoy a range of outdoor activities right on their doorstep. The inn’s location on the lakefront is ideal for various activities. It’s easy to go for a swim, paddle a kayak, or simply relax by the water. The surrounding area is also great for hiking, with several trails nearby.

In addition to its natural attractions, the WilloughVale Inn is known for its warm hospitality and friendly staff. The staff at the inn are always ready to assist guests. They help make the most of their stay, whether through activity recommendations or other services. One of the ways they enhance the guest experience is by serving delicious local cuisine. The inn’s restaurant is a highlight, offering a taste of the local culinary scene.

Staying at the WilloughVale Inn and Cottages is a wonderful way to experience the tranquility and beauty of Lake Willoughby. It’s an ideal destination for those seeking a peaceful escape in the heart of Vermont’s stunning landscape.

The WilloughVale Inn and Cottages on Lake Willoughby offer a serene lakeside retreat with stunning mountain views.
The WilloughVale Inn and Cottages on Lake Willoughby offer a serene lakeside retreat with stunning mountain views.

9. Wheeler Mountain Trail

The Wheeler Mountain Trail offers an invigorating hiking experience near Lake Willoughby. This trail, known for its moderate difficulty and rewarding views, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The hike is approximately 3 miles round trip. It takes hikers through a diverse landscape, including dense forests, rocky outcrops, and open meadows.

As you ascend the trail, the terrain varies, providing an engaging and somewhat challenging hike. The path is well-marked and maintained, making it accessible for most hikers with a reasonable level of fitness. Along the way, hikers get glimpses of Lake Willoughby through the trees. These glimpses add to the anticipation of the views from the top.

Reaching the summit of Wheeler Mountain is a rewarding experience. The panoramic views from the top are breathtaking, offering a sweeping vista of Lake Willoughby and the surrounding mountains. It’s a perfect spot for a rest and some photos before heading back down.

The Wheeler Mountain Trail is not just a hike; it’s an opportunity to connect with the natural beauty of the area. The hike offers a chance to enjoy the peace and quiet of the Vermont wilderness. It’s an opportunity to immerse oneself in nature. This experience allows hikers to appreciate the stunning landscapes. These landscapes make Lake Willoughby a special destination.

Explore Wheeler Mountain Trail near Lake Willoughby for a diverse 3-mile hike with rewarding views.
Explore Wheeler Mountain Trail near Lake Willoughby for a diverse 3-mile hike with rewarding views. | Source: https://www.trailfinder.info/

10. Willoughby Lake Farmers Market

A visit to the Willoughby Lake Farmers Market is a delightful way to experience the local culture and flavors of the Lake Willoughby area. This charming market is held weekly during the warmer months. It brings together local farmers, artisans, and producers.

The market also offers a wide range of fresh, locally-sourced products. Visitors can find everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade jams and artisanal cheeses. Strolling through the market, visitors can also discover freshly baked bread. The variety of products showcases the richness of local produce. It’s a great opportunity to sample the culinary delights of the region and to purchase unique, locally-made products. The market also features crafts and artworks by local artists, adding a touch of creativity to the shopping experience.

One of the best things to do at Lake Willoughby is to immerse yourself in the local community. The farmers market is the perfect place for this. The market is not only a place to shop. It also serves as a social hub where visitors can meet and interact with friendly locals. Visitors can learn about the locals’ way of life and the area’s traditions. This interaction enriches the market experience.

The Willoughby Lake Farmers Market is more than just a shopping destination. It’s an experience that connects visitors with the heart and soul of the Lake Willoughby community. Whether you’re looking for fresh ingredients for a picnic or a unique souvenir, the market is a must-visit. It’s an essential part of experiencing the local vibe at Lake Willoughby.

Explore Lake Willoughby's local culture at the weekly farmers market featuring artisans and producers.
Explore Lake Willoughby’s local culture at the weekly farmers market featuring artisans and producers. | Source: https://bestthingsvt.com/

11. Eastern Coves of Lake Willoughby

Embarking on a kayaking or canoeing adventure in the Eastern coves of Lake Willoughby is an enchanting experience. This area, known for its secluded and tranquil coves, offers a peaceful escape from the more frequented parts of the lake. The coves along the eastern shoreline of Lake Willoughby provide a unique setting. They are ideal for paddlers to explore and enjoy the lake’s natural beauty.

Starting from a quiet launch spot near the northeastern end of the lake, paddlers can easily access these hidden coves. The waters here are typically calm and clear, making it an ideal spot for both novice and experienced kayakers and canoeists. As you paddle through these sheltered areas, the serene environment allows for a truly immersive experience in nature.

The eastern coves are characterized by their lush, forested edges and rocky outcrops, creating a picturesque setting for your water journey. This part of Lake Willoughby is a haven for wildlife. Paddlers may have the opportunity to see various bird species and perhaps even deer along the shoreline.

For those without their own equipment, kayak and canoe rentals are available. Nearby facilities offer all the necessary gear and safety instructions. Whether you’re seeking a quiet solo trip or a peaceful outing with friends or family, the eastern coves are perfect. They offer a unique paddling experience. The eastern coves of Lake Willoughby showcase the quieter side of this beautiful Vermont lake.

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It’s an experience that appeals to nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

12. Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area

The Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area, located near Lake Willoughby, is a paradise for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. This protected area offers a diverse habitat. It attracts a wide variety of bird species, making it a prime spot for birdwatching in the region.

Visitors to the Wildlife Management Area can explore the trails. They can also visit observation areas, each offering a chance to see different bird species. The area is home to both resident and migratory birds, including waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors. Spring and fall migrations are particularly exciting times to visit this area. During these times, it becomes a hub for birds traveling to and from their breeding grounds.

Among the best things to do at Lake Willoughby, birdwatching at the Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area stands out for its peaceful and educational nature. It’s not just about spotting birds; it’s also about appreciating the rich biodiversity of the area. The management area provides an excellent opportunity to learn about local wildlife and the importance of conservation efforts.

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher with a keen eye for rare species or a casual observer, this area is ideal. The Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area offers a rewarding experience for all who appreciate nature’s beauty. It’s a place where you can connect with nature, enjoy the tranquility of the outdoors, and maybe even add a few new birds to your sighting list.

The Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area is a prime birdwatching spot with diverse habitats.
The Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area near Lake Willoughby is a prime birdwatching spot with diverse habitats. | Source: https://birdinghotspots.org/

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Lake Willoughby

Looking for more content on the top things to do at Lake Willoughby? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Lake Willoughby:

What is the best time of year to visit Lake Willoughby?

The best time to visit Lake Willoughby is during the summer for warm weather activities and fall for stunning foliage. Summer offers ideal conditions for hiking, swimming, and kayaking, while autumn dazzles with vibrant leaf colors.

Are there any accommodations near Lake Willoughby?

Yes, there are various accommodations near Lake Willoughby, including the WilloughVale Inn and Cottages, offering lakeside views and cozy stays. Additionally, there are several campgrounds and vacation rentals in the area for different budgets and preferences.

WilloughVale Inn and Cottages offer a cozy retreat nestled in a snowy wonderland.
WilloughVale Inn and Cottages offer a cozy retreat nestled in a snowy wonderland.

Can you swim in Lake Willoughby?

Absolutely. Swimming in Lake Willoughby is a popular activity. The lake has clear, refreshing waters with public beaches at the north and south ends, providing perfect spots for a summer swim.

Are there any family-friendly activities at Lake Willoughby?

Lake Willoughby offers numerous family-friendly activities, including hiking, kayaking, and visiting the local farmers market. The area is also great for picnics and birdwatching, making it ideal for families.

Is Lake Willoughby suitable for fishing?

Yes, Lake Willoughby is known for excellent fishing, especially for trout and salmon. Anglers can enjoy both shore and boat fishing in this scenic lake.

What are some must-see attractions around Lake Willoughby?

Must-see attractions around Lake Willoughby include the Wheeler Mountain Trail for hiking, the scenic Route 5A drive, and the Willoughby River Wildlife Management Area for birdwatching.

Is Lake Willoughby worth visiting?

Absolutely, Lake Willoughby stands as one of the top things to do in Vermont, showcasing stunning landscapes, clear waters, and a variety of outdoor activities. Whether you’re into hiking, kayaking, or simply enjoying serene lake views, Lake Willoughby provides a perfect blend of adventure and tranquility, making it a must-visit destination in Vermont.

Final Thoughts on Exploring Lake Willoughby

In conclusion, Lake Willoughby is a remarkable destination that captivates visitors with its natural beauty and array of activities. From the tranquil waters ideal for kayaking and swimming to the scenic trails perfect for hiking and birdwatching, this Vermont gem offers something for everyone.

The local culture, reflected in farmers markets and community events, adds to the charm of the area. Whether seeking a peaceful retreat or an adventurous escape, Lake Willoughby delivers an unforgettable experience.

Its unique blend of scenic beauty, outdoor recreation, and welcoming atmosphere makes it a standout destination. A visit to Lake Willoughby is not just a trip; it’s an opportunity to connect with nature and create lasting memories in one of Vermont’s most beautiful landscapes.

The awesome things to do at Lake Willoughby, Vermont for all types of travelers
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