Last month, we made our second camping trip up to Maidstone Lake State Park, Vermont.
It’s a bit of a drive, located almost at the Canadian border, but well worth the ride if your family enjoys camping (and there are rental cabins scattered about the lake as well!).
Crossing the Vermont border, we stopped at the Vermont Welcome Center – I vote it the cleanest, prettiest roadside stop in the world (I haven’t seen them all, but it would take a lot to top this one!). Gorgeous views of the Green Mountains, picnic spots with lovely landscaping, a real ski tram for kids to sit in. Besides uber-clean bathrooms, there’s a mini museum showing features, products, and destinations around the state.
About seven miles out from Maidstone Lake, we turned left onto a rutted dirt road. Yep, that’s the way in. We hadn’t seen seen a store or gas station or even a farm stand (!) for about 45 minutes prior (although if you take side roads, rumor is they are there!).
Our first stop was the ranger station to pick up your parking tags and buy ice ($3.75 for 10 lb block or $3 for 5 lb cubed). You can also get ice cream treats $2-3), firewood ($5 for a small armful) and hear a novella-sized tale from one of the rangers (hee hee!).
Note: You can’t bring firewood into the campground from outside Vermont, so take this into consideration if you’re going on a cold weekend or love having campfires every night.
Camping at Maidstone State Park
Two years ago, we stayed in Camping Area A, which has several water’s edge sites with lean-to’s. It’s lovely watching the sun set over the lake at night. Camping Area B, where we stayed this year, has a couple waterfront spots, but we booked too late for those, so got a tent site in the back of Area B. Still, the site was clean, spacious, and best of all, carpeted with emerald moss that made walking barefoot around our tent a dream!
At night, we heard hear loons crying to each other – it’s a pretty eerie sound, like children weeping (yes, that eerie). But after we asked our boys to imitate the sound and they were trilling and hooting “Loololololololooooolololol” all around the camp, it started to sound nicer to me! Loons are waterbirds that are black with white dot marking on their back. They can dive deeply underwater and swim for about 75 feet. I couldn’t get close enough for a photo though.
Each Camping Area has a bathhouse with a couple toilet stalls, and a small coin-operated shower. They are clean, but sparse – no paper towels or hand dryers, and sink water is only cold.
The Beach area is between the two Camping Areas, and a hilly walk from our campsite (no parking!). We biked there with the kids in the Joovy Cocoon, although the hills on the way back required us to walk the bikes. There’s also a Shore Trail from Camping Area B that’s an easy 10 minute walk.
Canoes and rowboats can be rented at the Ranger Station, and pick up your oars there, but the boats are already at the beach area. We tried a canoe two years ago. That was enough for me!
The beach was our favorite spot. In July, the clear, clean water is just about perfect – not shockingly cold (although when we went, the wind was a cooling factor so I couldn’t get myself all the way in, but the boys had no problem). Bring a picnic lunch! There’s a spit of sandy beach big enough for a couple families to enjoy, as well as a few picnic tables. We chased minnows, tadpoles, and polliwogs – hubby caught several polliwogs for the boys to inspect close up in their buckets before releasing back into the lake. The polliwogs (or, “Pow-wags! as our little son calls them) made our boys shriek in delight!
Where is Maidstone State Park?
Maidstone Lake is in remote northern Vermont, and has an untouched wilderness feeling as you walk through the campground. It’s a good 45 minutes from anything, so you’re probably not going to leave the camp for anything unless you want to take a trip to Canada, or visit the charming town of Littleton, NH about an hour away.
OR: if you’re really ambitious (as the men of our group were!), drive the hour to Mt. Washington to hike the Ammonoosuc Ravine, see the Lake of the Clouds, the observatory at the top, the Cog Railway, and then come back down the Jewel Trail. Trust me when I say you’ll need to rise early and devote an ENTIRE day to this venture if you’re hiking (I’ve done it twice!). But you could always make the trip shorter by taking the Cog up and down or driving it (both have fees).
Maidstone Lake is a lovely camping spot, well-maintained, and perfect for a family affair! We’ve been twice, and hope to return! Book early in the year to get the best sites!