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Vermont Lighthouses:
Lake Champlain Region

Isle La Motte lighthouse

Shelburne, Burlington, Saint Albans, Alburg, Isle La Motte



With the completion of the Champlain Canal which connected the Hudson River up north and Lake Champlain, shipping trade dramatically increased from the fishing and lumber trades up north, tourism from the south, and the quarries of Vermont. Burlington became the third largest port in the country for lumber shipping coming mainly from Canada. With the increased shipping trade, came the need for lighthouses on both the Vermont and New York shorelines of Lake Champlain with ten lighthouses operating at one time. In Vermont, there are six lighthouses on Lake Champlain. Four surround Burlington Harbor, with two at both ends of the nearly mile-long breakwater outlining the harbor, one placed three miles offshore on Juniper Island, and one originally positioned seven miles out on a reef called Colchester Reef, and has been moved to Shelburn years ago as part of a massive outdoor museum exhibition.

Up near the Canadian Border, two lighthouses were built to guide mariners around a dangerous channel and between these rather large islands. One on the Isle La Motte, and the other, which was the site of the first European settlement in Vermont, and was used during the Revolutionary War, called Windmill Point.

 

 

Vermont's Lake Champlain Lighthouses
You Can Drive or Hike To

Click any lighthouse image or link below to find out information about each lighthouse including historic snapshots, directions, more photos, and links for places to visit.

Vermont's Lake Champlain Lighthouses:
Best Viewed By Boat


 

Places to Visit Nearby:
Heading Northward From Shelburne VT
Along Lake Champlain

South of Burlington, lies Shelburne along the Lake Champlain shore.

Colchester Reef lighthouse reassembled on the Shelburne Museum grounds

Colchester Reef Lighthouse
Reassembled on the
Shelburne Museum Grounds

The Shelburne Museum, often referred to, as “New England’s Smithsonian” where Colchester Reef lighthouse is located, is a massive outdoor complex of 37 buildings and structures, mostly from the 19th century.

These architectual marvels include the famous steamer, the Ticonderoga. The Ticonderoga is considered to be America’s last remaining side-paddle-wheel passenger steamer that provided freight and passenger service during the first half of the 20th century.

These buildings, including Colchester Reef Lighthouse and the Ticonderoga, have been painstakingly disassembled, labeled, and then precisely reconstructed to their original states. shelburne museum with Ticonderoga steamer ship and Colchester reef light

Shelburne Farms is an interactive and educational 1400-acre working farm for families and children. Take a factory tour of the largest hand-made manufacturer of Teddy Bears at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.

Enjoy wine tasting at the Shelburne Vineyard Winery, one of Vermont’s premier vineyard, or walk around the nearly 6 acres of wildflower gardens at the Vermont Wildflower Farm.

Heading northward, Burlington is Vermont’s largest city, offering plenty of activities, events, specialty shops, restaurants, artists galleries, and museums

teddy bear statue in burlington VT

You'll find artists' treasures and specialy shops especially along the streets of The Church Street Marketplace.

There also plenty of trails for bikers and hikers inside the city and along Burlington’s Waterfront Park, where you can view the Burlington Breakwater lighthouses from the shore, walk along the boardwalk, or take boats out around the harbor and Lake Champlain.

Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path is an 8-mile route that runs along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. For picnicking and swimming, North Beach is located off the Burlington Bike Path.

In Burlington, you can explore 70 species of animals and lots of exhibits at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, learn about Vermont’s Revolutionary War hero at the Ethan Allan Museum.

The Horsford Gardens and Nursery display beautiful floral gardens, with heirloom plants dating back as far as the 1800’s.

Lake Champlain is comprised of many tiny and larger islands, some private, some public for boaters.

The Spirit Of Ethan Allen III is a large passenger ship that goes past Juniper Island lighthouse and the Burlington Breakwater lighthouses on their Scenic Narrated Cruises. water view of Burlington breakwater North light

Burlington Breakwater
North Light

These cruises are offered four times a day during the summer season, taking you around Burlington’s Lake Champlain islands.

car by old barn From the city attractions of Burlington as you head northward you are greeted with very rural communities that provide plenty of picturesque views of farmlands, forests, and wetlands.

There are many biking and hiking trails groomed for locals and visitors alike, and these trails are also used in the winter by cross country skiers and snowmobilers.

There are many islands in this area, with the largest ones you can drive to. hanging clothes to dry outdoors

One of these islands, North Hero, you can enjoy a relaxing retreat and beach swimming at Knight Point State Park.

Grand Isle is the largest island on Lake Champlain at 14 miles long, which also contains the town of South Hero. It is the home of the Hyde Log Cabin, built around 1783, by one of the islands pioneer settlers and is one of the oldest cabins in the United States. Grand Isle State Park, located in South Hero, provides plenty of camping adventures, boating, fishing, and kayaking and nature walks. Keeler Bay, in South Hero has ancient limestone rock formations millions of years old.

Relax and enjoy a special sunset on Lake Champlain. sunset on Lake Champlain

Isle La Motte is the northernmost island of Lake Champlain in a quiet serene area to bike on relatively flat terrain. You can also kayak around the island.

The Isle La Motte is also part of remarkable natural phenomenon known as the Chazy Fossil Reef.  As part of the Fisk Quarry Preserve, it is the oldest exposed tilted reef in the world displaying primitive fossil remnants from 480 million years ago.

Both the Isle La Motte Lighthouse, and a few miles north, Windmill Point Lighthouse are very restricted private residences and are best viewed by private boat.

The area surrounding the Isle La Motte and the nearby mainland offers picturesque views of farmlands, forests, and wetlands. The area around Saint Albans heading northward contains a system of well-groomed trails for bikers and hikers alike, and for cross country skiers and some snowmobilers in the winter.

The Missisquoi National Refuge, north of Swanton, is loaded with many species of migratory birds, especially waterfowl, from northern Lake Champlain.

 

 

Boat Tour: Lighthouses on
Lake Champlain, Vermont

Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions.

Spirit of Ethan Allan III
Provide all kinds of dinner and event cruises. Lighthouses can be viewed on the Scenic Narrated Cruise.
348 Flynn Ave., Burlington, VT 05401

EMAIL: spirit@soea.com
PHONE: 802-862-8300 • FAX: 802-860-2261

Lighthouses: Juniper Island Light, Burlington North Breakwater Light, Burlington South Breakwater Light

 

 

Lake Champlain Ferries
Ferry from Burlington to Port Kent NY passes by the Burlington North Breakwater lighthouse.
King Street Dock, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Phone (802) 864-9804

Lighthouses: Burlington North Breakwater Light

 

 

The Whistling Man Schooner
Sails around Burlington Harbor, or private charter for up to a full day sail.
1 College Street, Burlington, VT 05401
Telephone: (802) 598-6504
E-Mail: captain@whistlingman.com

Lighthouses: Burlington North Breakwater Light

 

 

Additional Resources
For All You Lake Champlain Visitors

Lake Champlain Guide

Vermont Recreational Trails

Lake Champlain Bikeways Road Maps (free map downloads)

Visit Vermont

 

 

 

My 300-page book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Northern New England: New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont, provides stories from each of the 76 lighthouses in these northern states, along with the coastal attractions and tours near each beacon, and contact info to plan your special trips. You'll find over 360 images inside as well.

Take a look inside!

 

 

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