View of Paddle Boats on Emerald Lake in Emerald Lake State Park Vermont

Where is Emerald Lake State Park

Located in the state’s southern region, Emerald Lake State Park resides entirely within the state of Vermont. The state park’s most notable feature is the namesake Emerald Lake, which draws its name from its emerald color. The state park also contains hiking trails, a campground, a nature center and areas designated for fishing, picnicking, and winter sports. The closest city to the state park is East Dorset, Vermont. Emerald Lake State Park is located 68 miles (one hour and twenty-minute drive) northeast of Albany, New York.  Emerald is 118 miles (two hour and thirty-minute drive) west of Manchester, New Hampshire, and 91 miles and a hour and forty five minute drive south of Montepelier, Vermont. The state park is also located near several other outdoor recreation areas. These recreation areas include Gifford Woods State Park, Green Mountain National Forest, and Camel’s Hump State Park.

How Large is Emerald Lake State Park

Emerald Lake State Park covers a total area of around 430 acres. The park’s geography mainly consists of the 20-acre Emerald Lake and the surrounding Vermont forest. The park’s campground contains 61 campsites, 37 lean-tos, restrooms, hot showers, and a dump station. The park also contains a small beach that is equipped with a concession stand and boat rental facility. Four acres of the park are designated as the Emerald Lake Natural Area. The natural area consists of an old growth forest composed of hemlocks, sugar maples, and other hardwood tree species. Emerald Lake State Park also supports a variety of avian and other wildlife species.

Emerald Lake State Park Weather

The weather at Emerald State Park varies frequently throughout the year. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 55- and 90-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 15- and 45-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Emerald State Park receives around 100 days of rain per year. These 100 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 48 inches. Emerald State Park also experiences snowfall throughout every year. Snowfall in the park is normally heaviest in the winter months of December, January, and February. The park’s yearly snowfall totals average around 70 inches per year.

When did Emerald Lake Become a State Park

Emerald Lake State Park first became a state park in 1960. The state park was established to protect the area’s natural resources and provide access to Emerald Lake. Before the park’s establishment the area operated as a large farm and summer retreat. North Dorset Farm was established by Robert Alfred Shaw between the years of 1918 and 1921. In 1957, following Shaw’s death the state of Vermont purchased his land and started to lay out the plan for Emerald Lake State Park. The park is managed and maintained by the Vermont Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation.

Hiking Trail in Emerald Lake State Park Vermont

Things to do in Emerald Lake State Park

Emerald Lake State Park provides visitors the opportunity to explore a variety of activities and adventures present in the park. The most popular adventures and experiences visitors can find in Emerald Lake State Park are listed below:

Explore the Nature Center

The nature center at Emerald Lake State Park is the perfect place for visitors to start their Vermont state park adventure. Visitors can obtain a variety of helpful information from the nature center including park trail maps and species checklists. Displays and educational exhibits found throughout the nature center will also discuss the park’s ecology, geography, and geology. Park staff found in the nature center can answer additional questions visitors may have about the park.

Participate in an Interpretive Program

Visitors who are eager to learn more about Emerald Lake State Park after visiting the park’s nature center should look to participate in one of the park’s interpretive programs. The topics of these programs vary but normally relate to the park’s geography, ecology, or geology. All programs offered by Emerald Lake State Park are led by knowledgeable park staff or experienced volunteers. The schedule for these programs varies but is posted week to week in the park’s nature center.

Hike one of the Park’s Trails

Emerald Lake State Park contains a variety of hiking trails that traverse the park’s various ecosystems and landscapes. A few of these trails walk along the lake side, while others meander through the park’s forest. Trails near the four-mile-wide Emerald Lake Nature Area offer visitors the best chance at spotting wildlife among the old growth forest. Additional information regarding current trail conditions and difficulty can be found in the park’s nature center.

Take a Beach Day

Emerald Lake State Park maintains a designated beach alongside Emerald Lake. Visitors arriving at the park can take advantage of this spot to relax, enjoy a day in the sun, and spend time with family. The beach at Emerald Lake also provides direct access to the park’s designated swimming area.

Fishing on Emerald Lake

Anglers visiting Emerald Lake State Park will want to bring all of their freshwater fishing equipment and tackle to the park. Emerald Lake contains several species of fish including largemouth bass, yellow perch, and northern pike. All visitors who are fifteen years and older will need to obtain a valid Vermont fishing license prior to casting a line in the park.

Wildlife Viewing

Emerald Lake State Park contains a variety of wildlife species. The most common species spotted in the park include white-tailed deer, porcupines, racoons, squirrels, foxes, and skunks. Species may also spot a variety of songbirds and other avian species while visiting Emerald Lake State Park.

Camping in Emerald Lake State Park

The campground at Emerald Lake State Park contains sites suited for recreational vehicles and sites designed for tent campers. Visitors looking to camp within the park can make reservations online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors looking to camp in the park during the summer will want to make reservations several weeks in advance.

When to visit Emerald Lake State Park

Emerald Lake State Park is open year-round, and visitors can choose to plan a trip to the park throughout the year. However, during the fall and winter months snowfall in and around the park can be quite heavy and dangerous. Occasionally, inclement winter weather causes the park to close roads and facilities due to dangers to park staff and visitors. The best time for visitors to plan a trip to the park is during the summer. During the season, warm temperatures fall upon the state park, snow is absent, and wildlife are more active. The season allows visitors to explore the park and enjoy all of its features.

Must Have Items to Bring to Emerald Lake State Park

It's no surprise that every trip outdoors requires some packing and planning. A trip to Emerald Lake State Park is no exception. The items listed below should be considered when packing for your trip to the park. 

Water & High Energy Snacks

Water is essential for every hiking and camping trip. High energy snacks are also a great item to bring with you on the trail. Snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, and protein bars can do wonders at replenishing energy and providing a needed boost. Visitors planning to have a day at the beach may also want to pack additional picnic supplies and drinks in a cooler.

Sturdy Hiking Boots

A pair of sturdy hiking boots are essential for a successful trip to Emerald Lake State Park. While the park does contain beach and lake access, the park’s trails venture over various terrain that can cause even the most experienced hikers to stumble. Visitors should look to invest in a lightweight and waterproof pair of boots for added comfort and protection.

Lightweight Rain Jacket

A solid lightweight rain jacket should be protective enough to wick away rain showers, but not too thick that it becomes uncomfortably warm. Visitors of Emerald Lake State Park should look to purchase a completely waterproof jacket instead of a water resistant one.

Camping Supplies

When packing for any camping trip, creating and using a camping equipment checklist is a helpful practice. A checklist will make sure you don’t forget any necessary equipment when packing for your trip to Emerald Lake State Park.

Vermont Wildlife Field Guide

Wildlife enthusiasts looking to visit Emerald Lake State Park should bring along a North America or Vermont specific wildlife field guide. The most useful field guides contain color photos and lengthy descriptions that make species identification educational and simple. Visitors interested in the variety of vegetation that also resides in the park can also purchase a vegetation specific field guide to aid in identification.

Where to Stay in Emerald Lake State Park

Visitors looking to stay within the boundaries of Emerald Lake State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites. These reservations can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors of Emerald Lake State Park who would prefer to stay in a hotel will want to first check out the various options located in East Dorsett. However, additional lodging options also await visitors in larger cities such as Albany, New York or Montepelier, Vermont.

Food Near Emerald Lake State Park

The nearest food to Emerald Lake State Park is located in East Dorsett. The city is home to a few restaurants that can provide visitors with a quick bite to eat. Visitors looking for additional options or a larger culinary scene should make the drive to either Albany, New York or Montepelier, Vermont. Both of these cities contain additional options that may better suit a visitor’s needs.

Airports Near Emerald Lake State Park

The closest international airport to Emerald Lake State Park is located in Albany, New York. The Albany International Airport is located 76 miles and about a one-and-a-half-hour drive south of the park. The next closest international airport to the state park is located in Burlington. The Burlington International Airport is 90 miles and about a two hour and ten-minute car ride north of Emerald Lake State Park.

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