Shelburne, Burlington, Saint Albans, Alburg, Isle La Motte
With the completion of the Champlain Canal which connected the Hudson River up north and Lake Champlain, shipping trade dramatically increased from the fishing and lumber trades up north, tourism from the south, and the quarries of Vermont. Burlington became the third largest port in the country for lumber shipping coming mainly from Canada. With the increased shipping trade, came the need for lighthouses on both the Vermont and New York shorelines of Lake Champlain with ten lighthouses operating at one time. In Vermont, there are six lighthouses on Lake Champlain. Four surround Burlington Harbor, with two at both ends of the nearly mile-long breakwater outlining the harbor, one placed three miles offshore on Juniper Island, and one originally positioned seven miles out on a reef called Colchester Reef, and has been moved to Shelburn years ago as part of a massive outdoor museum exhibition.
Up near the Canadian Border, two lighthouses were built to guide mariners around a dangerous channel and between these rather large islands. One on the Isle La Motte, and the other, which was the site of the first European settlement in Vermont, and was used during the Revolutionary War, called Windmill Point.
For stories of famous lighthouse events and folklore, check out my book “New England Lighthouses: Famous Shipwrecks, Rescues, and Other Tales” of over 40 stories with 160 images, which you can purchase from Schiffer Publishing, or from most book stores. Here is the table of contents to explore.
One famous rescue described in the book occured in Burlington where Keeper James Wakefied risked his life to save the crew of the General Butler during a fierce storm.
Vermont's Lake Champlain Lighthouses
You Can Drive or Hike To
Note: The lighthouses mentioned below that you can drive to may also be viewed from various boat tours offered, see Boat Tours below. Ferries that take visitors to the islands are also shown.
Click any lighthouse link below to find out information about each lighthouse including historic snapshots, directions, more photos, and links for places to visit.
Vermont's Lake Champlain Lighthouses:
Best Viewed By Boat
Places to Visit Nearby:
Heading Northward From Shelburne VT
Along Lake Champlain
The Shelburne Museum, often referred to, as “New England’s Smithsonian” where Colchester Reef lighthouse is located, is a massive outdoor complex of 37 buildings and structures, mostly from the 19th century, including the famous paddle wheel steamer, the Ticonderoga. The Ticonderoga is considered to be America’s last remaining side-paddle-wheel passenger steamer that provided freight and passenger service during the first half of the 20th century. These buildings, including Colchester Reef Lighthouse and the Ticonderoga, have been painstakingly disassembled, labeled, and then precisely reconstructed to their original states.
The National Museum of the Morgan Horse will educate you about Morgan horses and their part in our nation’s history.
Shelburne Farms is an interactive and educational 1400-acre working farm for families and children. Take a factory tour of the largest hand-made manufacturer of Teddy Bears at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company.
Burlington is Vermont’s largest city that offers plenty of activities, events, specialty shops, restaurants, artists galleries, and museums, especially along the streets of The Church Street Marketplace. There also plenty of trails for bikers and hikers inside the city and along Burlington’s Waterfront Park, where you can view the Burlington Breakwater lighthouses from the shore, walk along the boardwalk, or take boats out around the harbor and Lake Champlain. Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path is an 8-mile route that runs along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. For picnicking and swimming, North Beach is located off the Burlington Bike Path.
In Burlington, you can explore 70 species of animals and lots of exhibits at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, learn about Vermont’s Revolutionary War hero at the Ethan Allan Museum, or visit the Dakin Farm for free food samples and exhibits.
For those who enjoy the arts, visit the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts, which features five floors of contemporary art, or explore the Flynn Center in Burlington, one of the largest Historic Performing Arts Centers in New England.
The Island Line Trail brochure leads cyclists from Burlington, Vermont to the Champlain Islands along the old Rutland Railroad. The Horsford Gardens and Nursery display beautiful floral gardens, with heirloom plants dating back as far as the 1800’s.
For the best chocolate,s take a factory tour and taste gourmet chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Lake Champlain is comprised of many tiny and larger islands, some private, some public for boaters. The Spirit Of Ethan Allen III is a 424-passenger ship that goes past Juniper Island lighthouse and the Burlington Breakwater lighthouses on their Scenic Narrated Cruises, offered 4 times a day during the summer season, taking you around Burlington’s Lake Champlain islands.
From the city attractions of Burlington as you head northward you are greeted with very rural communities that provide plenty of picturesque views of farmlands, forests, and wetlands. There are many biking and hiking trails groomed for locals and visitors alike, and these trails are also used in the winter by cross country skiers and snowmobilers.
There are many islands in this area, with the largest ones you can drive to. One of these islands, North Hero, you can enjoy a relaxing retreat and beach swimming at Knight Point State Park.
Grand Isle is the largest island on Lake Champlain at 14 miles long, which also contains the town of South Hero. It is the home of the Hyde Log Cabin, built around 1783, by one of the islands pioneer settlers and is one of the oldest cabins in the United States. Grand Isle State Park, located in South Hero, provides plenty of camping adventures, boating, fishing, and kayaking and nature walks. Keeler Bay, in South Hero has ancient limestone rock formations millions of years old.
Isle La Motte lies in the northwestern corner of Vermont, seven miles long, it is the northernmost island of Lake Champlain in a quiet serene area to bike on relatively flat terrain. You can also kayak around the island, which you can also rent there. There is an old schoolhouse that houses a museum, and the Isle La Motte library is stone building constructed of local limestone.
Fisk Farm on the Isle La Motte hosts cultural heritage programs of various arts and musical events.
The Isle La Motte is also part of remarkable natural phenomenon known as the Chazy Fossil Reef. As part of the Fisk Quarry Preserve, it is the oldest exposed tilted reef in the world, where the bedrock of the southern third of the island displays primitive fossil remnants from 480 million years ago.
The Isle La Motte Lighthouse stands on the island's northwest corner but it is a private residence and is best viewed by boat. The Windmill Point Lighthouse is also a very restricted private residence and is also best viewed by boat.
The area surrounding the Isle La Motte and the nearby mainland offers picturesque views of farmlands, forests, and wetlands. The area around Saint Albans heading northward contains a system of well-groomed trails for bikers and hikers alike, and for cross country skiers and some snowmobilers in the winter.
- On the Isle La Motte, there is a flat terrain 10-mile bike trail called the Isle La Motte Ramble.
- Another 10-mile biking trail near an island southward called North Hero is known as the Isle La Motte: Another Side of Vermont.
- The Central Vermont Rail Trail in St. Albans offers 27 miles of remote Vermont scenery for those who enjoy horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
- The St. Albans Rail Trail provides a nice long bike ride along the Lamoile River.
- The Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail in St. Albans is a 26-mile bike trail between the towns of St. Albans and Richford through farms, forests, and wetlands.
The Missisquoi National Refuge, north of Swanton, is loaded with many species of migratory birds, especially waterfowl, from northern Lake Champlain.
The Alburg Recreational Rail Trail offers nearly 4 miles of gravel pathway along the shores of Lake Champlain for birding, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
The Flat and Fertile Vermont trail is a 14-mile mile trail located near Swanton, Vermont.
Alburg Dunes State Park contains one of the longest beaches on Lake Champlain.
If you enjoy golfing, you’ll find quiet places to golf at the Alburg Golf Links in the nearby mainland area.
Boat Tours: Lighthouses on
Lake Champlain, Vermont
Boat cruises and ferries mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, whale watching, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Weather is also a major factor in New England, especially on sailing excursions.
Spirit of Ethan Allan III
Provide all kinds of dinner and event cruises. Lighthouses can be viewed on the Scenic Narrated Cruise.
348 Flynn Ave., Burlington, VT 05401
PHONE: 802-862-8300 • FAX: 802-860-2261
Lighthouses: Juniper Island Light, Burlington North Breakwater Light, Burlington South Breakwater Light
Lake Champlain Cruises
Cruises pass by the Burlington Breakwater lights.
1 King Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401
Phone: 802-864-9669 Fax: 802-864-9599
Lighthouses: Burlington North Breakwater Light, Burlington South Breakwater Light
For All You Lake Champlain Visitors