Champlain is a big lake, and a boater could spend weeks exploring all of its 490 square miles. During the taping of our Lake Champlain episode for New England Boating TV, we focused on Burlington and North Hero, 2 very different parts of the lake with 2 very different vibes.
Burlington makes a fun home base due to its big public launch ramp, marinas, public mooring system, and lively bar and restaurant scene. The manmade breakwater surrounding the harbor provides good protection when strong winds that blow across the lake from the north and west, and it’s a short walk to the downtown/Church Street area. Further, there are 2 dock-and-dine restaurants from which to choose. Oh, and there’s good fishing for lake trout nearby, as we discovered on a trip with Capt. Brian Dunkling of Sure Strike Charters.
North Hero, in the upper part of the lake known as the Inland Sea, exudes a laidback, small-town atmosphere. This part of the lake is well protected and dotted with islands, several of them with state parks that allow camping. It’s also a great area for waterskiing, tubing and fishing for bass and pike.
The town itself is peaceful and scenic. A great place to stay is the cozy North Hero House, which offers dockage and a restaurant serving terrific food. Just down the road is Hero’s Welcome, an eclectic store carrying penny candy, wine and beer, local crafts, souvenirs, toys, kayaks, home furnishings and more. It also has a great deli and outdoor dining area on the lake, along with a long float for visiting boaters to use. A small marina with a launch ramp is adjacent to the store (although the ramp is a bit tricky to negotiate).
Other ramps can be found at the other local marinas in the area, such as the full-service Ladd’s Landing, where we launched our Boston Whaler 250 Outrage. Ladd’s also carries ethanol-free gas and the staff couldn’t be friendlier or more helpful.