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Lake Shaftsbury State Park is nestled among rolling hills and dense forest in southwestern Vermont. It’s not exactly a destination for tourists, but the locals make good use of the park in the summer, when they come with coolers, sand toys, and toddlers to make the most of the little sandy beach and perfectly shallow water. Summer is fabulous in Vermont, and Lake Shaftsbury is the perfect destination for families.
Generally, I stay away from Lake Shaftsbury in the summer – too many people for such a little park, and dogs aren’t allowed at all when the season is in full swing. I lean toward dog-friendly most of the time. Afterall, my dog is my favorite hiking companion.
When the gates of Shaftsbury State Park close after Labor Day, the park belongs to me and a handful of dog and nature-lovers. It’s usually warm enough to swim in the shallow lake until late September, and the one-mile trail around the lake is the perfect little adventure for restless dogs and their human companions.
I visit Lake Shaftsbury once a week or so in the off season. I know its charms so well, that I often forget to bring my camera. When I remember, I am very often rewarded with amazing, intimate views, like this one from an early morning hike in mid-October. Here are a few of my favorite autumn shots around Lake Shaftsbury. If you’re passing through, perhaps from Bennnington to Manchester, VT on beautiful route 7A, I urge you to pull over for a little autumn adventure. You won’t regret it, I promise!
Logistics for Visiting Lake Shaftsbury State Park
Lake Shaftsbury State Park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day for swimming, paddling, hiking, and camping. Dogs are not allowed when the park is open. There is a group campsite available, but no individual campsites. There is also a delightful cottage for rent right on the water that sleeps six. Lake Shaftsbury is a great place for kids, with a sandy beach, snack bar, playground, canoe and kayak rentals, and a nice nature trail.
If you visit during the off season, you’ll have to park your car outside the gate and walk in. There are no amenities available and usually no people either. A resident bald eagle or osprey will usually put on a show early in the morning and the sun will play hide-and-seek in the trees as it rises. It’s a lovely place to capture the foliage in the fall or to strap on snowshoes in the winter. If you’re traveling through on route 7A from Bennington to Manchester, Lake Shaftsbury State Park is totally worth a stop – stretch your legs and enjoy some of Vermont’s hidden beauty.
Want to read more about some of Vermont’s incredible parks? Check out these posts:
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