Friday, September 3, 2021

Unexpected Surprise-Lakes, Ponds and Erratics

July 27, 2021                                                                 Most Recent Posts:
Moose River Campground                                         A Visit to Stowe
Saint Johnsbury, Vermont              The Beautiful Homes of Saint Johnsbury

On Tuesday I meant to go to two Vermont State Parks looking for potential kayaking spots.  I sort of have to do this now that David is not with me since not every lake/pond has a launch I can do by myself.  I could have just put the kayak in at the first place I went, Crystal Lake but I wanted to see them both and due to two unexpected happenstances, by then I was out of time and couldn’t get back. 

Crystal Lake is in Barton Vermont about 34 miles north of Winnona.  It’s a day use park meaning no fee and no campground.  It’s a Glacial lake with rough hewn mountain sides which I love and is about 3 miles long, 1 mile wide and 100’ deep in spots.  The sandy beach area is about a mile long. It looks perfect.

The red roofed lake side house on the left drew my attention.   What an interesting place.


IMG_8132The information board tells me that at one time, there was a granite quarry on the east side of Crystal Lake.  Near the turn of the century, steamboats barged stones across the lake. The park's beach house with restrooms and a snack bar is made of granite quarried beside the lake. It was constructed in the late thirties by the CCC.   Those same granite cliffs have been home to nesting peregrine falcons.  No sightings today.

On the same information board I read that the mountains to the south near the town of Sheffield, about 6 miles away, host a 16 turbine wind farm.  Each turbine stands 420 feet from the ground to the tip of the blade.  From this distance it’s hard to feel how big that must be.
Love the zoom on my camera!!

Another information board also had some great old pictures of days at the lake.  This one was dated 1890.  

Then. . . .

and now. . .

As for kayaking here, there is no official launch site.  I’d have to drag it from the parking lot to the edge of the lake.  Didn’t look like a huge problem though the kayak is 45 pounds with its rudder.


My next stop was supposed to be Brighton State Park but I unknowingly drove right by Sentinel Rock State Park and recognized a state park sign so I stopped to investigate.  This is possibly the smallest state park I’ve ever seen.  Not a soul but me.

IMG_8158The 356 acre property was a farm which I guess was gifted to the state in 1997 because of the “sentinel rock”, a glacial erratic that ended up here.  It overlooks Lake Willoughby in the distance.  The house foundation spot is behind the sign. 

The property has been a farm since the late 18th century.  Whether this is the original farmhouse altered and revised, I’m not sure or why the state chose to take the farmhouse down.  I can’t imagine they couldn’t have made use of the building and its upkeep wouldn’t be that much.  Would it?  Perhaps it was too “new” to be of interest since the gift was made in 1997.  Or perhaps it had deteriorated to such an extent that it wasn’t worth saving.  Wish there had been someone here to tell me the story.

I had plenty of time to look around so first I climbed up to see the rock and got a nice view of Lake Willoughby as well.  The trail went up through what I would imagine is a lovely wildflower hill at the right time of year.


A zoom in on lake Willoughby which I imagine was visible at least through the farm house second story windows and the views from all around the rear of the house would have been wonderful.  Imagine it in the snow.


Don’t be fooled by my camera angle on this sign.  The Sentinel Rock above it is huge. 

Apparently Geology professors and rock enthusiasts come to explore what they say are remarkable geologic features here.  There is quite a bit of information on the sign for those like Sue who could understand it.  I can understand that this park lies at the contact zone between bedrock from two distinct geologic periods which are explained. 

Sentinel Rock is granite There are other types rocks and boulders here on the hillside.  All were carried by the glaciers from as far away as Canada’s Northwest Territories.  Think within the Arctic Circle  They say Sentinel Rock came here 13,000 years ago. 

Just to touch it really was amazing.


Since this was a farm, I imagine it wasn’t moved because they couldn’t move it but the family who built the house in the 1890’s did use a portion of it for the foundations of their farmhouse and you can see the marks where it was split.  Somehow this makes me sad.


Heading back down through the meadow.  Wish I’d been here when more of the wildflowers were in bloom.



I’ve done the trail on the right, now for the left.


You can see here where the park is on a Vermont map and where the trail is on the park map.  Why it’s called Scott’s Loop I’ve forgotten.

It starts out on a very necessary boardwalk through a wetland.


I don’t think the trail is used much as it was nearly closed in by vegetation in places.


But eventually it opened up and led into the forest.


Imagine the fun if you had been a child growing up on this farm.  That is if you didn’t have to work at your chores all the time.


It was up and down, dry and wet.




Luckily it wasn’t too wet for me to pick  my way through here.  Glad I had on my hiking boots rather than just walking shoes.


At one point, I was surrounded by ferns.


Love the ferns – so green and feathery.  Can’t you breathe better in a field of ferns?


I love these little happenstances in full timing.  I wish there were even more of them.


Brighton ScreenshotAfter my unexpected stop and hike, I went on to Brighton State Park which turned out to be turned out to be sort of in two pieces. 

This map shows that I went right by the very large Island Pond and on my left  was a small green beach front area.   Parking was on the right of the road where the green star is and the beach was on the other side.  It is amazing to me that both of the  bodies of water on this map are called ponds.  I’d love to know what Vermont’s definition of a pond and a lake are.  

This spot on Island Pond had a sign that said Brighton State Park but my directions said to keep on, so I did and ended up at the campground which is on Spectacle pond and where there are also some trails.  With my state park pass they would allow me to hike the trails even if I were not staying in the campground.

IMG_8221I was planning to do some of the hiking and decided in the interest of time to drive through the campground to see if it was suitable for Winnona.  No Vermont state parks have any hook ups.  Most have places you can take on water and have dump stations.

You can see all the campground loops and the trails on this map. You can click it to make it larger and more readable.

It’s a nice woodsy campground with great lake front sites but mostly suited to tents and smaller RVs.

I normally walk campgrounds in order to be able to take pictures but today I wanted to check it out and see whether I wanted to walk it.  You’ll see in a minute why I didn’t get back to walk it or to hike the trails.

I didn’t see a launch site to kayak the pond so I went back to the entrance station and they told me you could launch from the swim area although it was a bit of a carry or there was a State Department of Fish and Wildlife access area just outside the park.  I decided to go over and check it out before coming back to hike.

As you can see it is an easy access but the skies are very gray and while I was there, it began to rain. 


Serious rain – so much for my hiking plans and plans to stop and check out the  beach on Island Pond for a possible kayak put in.  I’m not hardy enough to actually get in Vermont lakes, ponds or swimming holes.  You have to be part Polar Bear I think.  Had I not stopped at Sentinel Rock, I would probably have been able to do the hikes.   Oh well . . . . .  there’s always next time.

Ruby’s front window viewIMG_8230

My route back took me by the Island Pond swimming area so I stopped, rolled down my side window and took this shot to remind me for that “next time” and for writing this post over a month later.   You can see how close the beach is to the road.  I am just stopped along side and using no zoom.



  1. So lovely and green! We sure could use the rain here. How serendipitous to happen upon a state park you weren't expecting.

    1. I would definitely send you some if I could. After Ida, a lot of folks in the Northeast would. The green is really wonderful and everywhere is so green.

  2. You find the coolest places to visit. Now I'm hoping I can convince my brothers to put VT on next year's motorcycle ride. Amazing beauty and scenery. I've never spent much time at all in the northern New England states except MA. That's where Marti is from. :cD

    Imagine the work to saw off rock from that boulder, I'm sure it was done manually.

    1. Not sure where I'll be next summer but if I come back to Vermont we will have to make a plan. I'd like to meet these motorcycle Brothers. For sure that was done by hand and I'm pretty sure that the sign there explained how they did it but sadly it's been too long ago for me to remember the details memory being what it is.

    2. That sounds like an interesting idea to meet up while on a MC trip, if my brothers' Harleys can go that far without breaking down! :cD

  3. Very pretty setting. Send us some of that wet stuff in Texas.

    1. Thanks Roger. I would for sure send it to you and out to those fires in the west if I could. Seems everywhere in the Northeast has had a lot of rain

  4. Finding those unexpected treasures is one of the best parts of full-time traveling. What a sweet little park you discovered, with a wonderful trail! I don't know what it is about boardwalks on trails (and bridges) but they always make the trail more interesting to me. That field of ferns is gorgeous, and as you said, I would like to see that meadow when the wildflowers were in bloom.

    Are you still getting a lot of rain in Vermont? Now that we're into September, our daily afternoon thunderstorms in North Carolina have slacked off. It really feels like fall!

    1. Staying somewhere long enough to venture out and about makes those unexpected things more likely. They sure are fun but they rearranged my day. Yes rain is still here. Wish I could send it out West. With Ida the Northeast has had quite enough for now I think.

  5. We have erratics all over the place here, compliments of the ice age. I can think of one neighbouring a cemetery here.

    1. Being from the south I never saw erratics until I started traveling. I love that geologists can tell you approximately where they came from even further north.

  6. You were just supposed to see this park instead - and it's a beauty! There can never be too many ferns and yes I do breathe better among them and their fairies. That rock must have so many stories to tell about its journey and the visitors it has had since. I don't think it minds that a little piece of itself is now a home's foundation. We has so little rain this summer that when it did come it was a lovely treat.

    1. I agree Jodee I breathe better among Ferns. I'd love to hear the stories rocks could tell. I kind of always hate it when people pick up rocks from one place and take them somewhere else but I suppose that's just part of their Journey

  7. I love the fern picture! That small park was a really neat find. I also like the comparison pictures at the first park - neat dress in that top picture. You didn't get to do everything you planned, but you did get to see a lot. We've definitely had rain here and the temperatures have cooled.

    1. I'd actually driven by the park when I noticed the recognizable State Park sign and backed up to see what it was. Glad I did. Those Victorian clothes are a favorite of mine too

  8. This is so much fun, Sherry, especially with Vermont on our calendar for next year in mid September. One haven't mentioned bugs. My Vermont friend, who does live farther south, talks about how she gets really tired of all the bugs. I got a tick embedded when I was there in I can vouch for the bugs! Have you had any problem with that?

    1. I have had a very little trouble with it mostly on hikes in the woods. No ticks. No mosquitoes. But then I'm not out after dark either so they might be there but not bothering me

  9. I hope there's never a rock fall behind that red-roofed house. Glad we don't wear long dresses to the beach any more. The meadows must be even more spectacular filled with wildflowers. Funny about lakes and ponds. On the North Kaibab, way to North Rim Grand Canyon, the littlest of water bodies are called lakes and look more like puddles. I sure love to see all this water and green after so long in the arid SW.

  10. Nice hike you took. We have been leaf peaking and hiking from rental RV over the last seven days. That stream pic reminds me of the one I had a big fall in a few weeks back. It was on a steep trail and much deeper and rock hopping was easy going up but I chose a lose rock on way down and fell face first into the stream. I still have some bruises from that event. Thanks for posting your travels.

  11. Oh, I loved that former farm and agree with you. What a wonderful place to grow up. Thank you for sharing this!


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