Vermont may lack the scenic coastlines of other New England states. But that doesn't mean you can't still set sail on a one-of-a-kind island-hopping adventure.
"I might be a little biased, but these are the crown jewels of the state park system," park ranger Jimmy Putnam said.
Just out of St. Albans Bay in Lake Champlain sit three of Vermont's most remote state parks. Unique camping destinations that can only be reached by kayak, canoe, motorboat-- and in this case-- ferry.
Once farmland, 266-acre Burton Island is now a recreational playground. The full service marina can handle up to 100 boats. And on most weekends the place is packed with visitors from all across Vermont, New England and Quebec.
"A lot of people consider this their second home," Putnam said. "It's a destination for them."
"There's a lot of people that know about it," laughed Rich Vogel of Colchester.
Burton Island is home to more than 50 campsites, but a visit here isn't exactly a full-fledged wilderness experience.
"This is where all the action happens," Putnam said. "This is Main Street, Burton Island."
One can buy firewood, food, and even the morning paper. In fact, there's even a small restaurant and you can get a tasty meal from a trained NECI chef.
Don't expect to be pampered on the other two islands.
Six miles up the lake is a true island gem for wilderness purists-- Knight Island.
"This is why I like this island just because of the shoreline here... You could swear you're on the coast of Maine," said Chuck Woessner of Vermont State Parks.
A mile long and nearly a half mile wide, there's nothing here but a ranger's station, hiking trails and seven primitive campsites.
"You're probably a quarter mile from your nearest neighbor when you're camping out here," Woessner said. "You've got beaches, you've got cliffs, you've got overlooks, you've got old-growth forest in the center of the island."
And our island hopping adventure doesn't end there. Last stop-- Woods Island.
"We're getting a little further from civilization with each island stop," Woessner noted.
There are only five primitive campsites here and none have lean-tos. But you will find scenic shores, hiking trails and even camping Russians.
"You have your own boat. You don't have anyone around you. It's just great," said Alex Ogandzhanyan, a camper from Russia.
It's a far cry from what was planned for this hidden gem. At the center of this landmass you'll find remnants of an airstrip, now overgrown.
"There were big hopes that someone would make money out of Woods Island once upon a time and it never panned out," Woessner said.
Instead, all three of these state parks remain more or less off the grid. True hidden gems and the crown jewels of Vermont's state parks system.
All of the islands can be reached by canoe or kayak, although it's at least a two-mile paddle to get to Knight and Woods Island. All three campgrounds require a minimum two-night stay and campsites cost anywhere from $16-$27.
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