Lake Willoughby

Westmore, Vermont
Lake Willoughby in Westmore, Vermont is a captivating natural wonder nestled within the Northeast Kingdom that resembles a Norwegian fjord.
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About This Location

Lake Willoughby, located in Westmore, Vermont, is a captivating natural wonder nestled within the Northeast Kingdom. This pristine lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, cool temperatures, and stunning surroundings. With its unique geological features and recreational opportunities, Lake Willoughby has become a cherished destination for locals and visitors alike.

Lake Willoughby stretches across the town of Westmore in Orleans County, forming a southeast-trending basin that showcases its exceptional beauty. One of the defining characteristics of this lake is its remarkable depth, which can exceed 300 feet in some areas. It is often considered the deepest lake entirely contained within New England, second in the region only to Lake Champlain. Estimates for Lake Willoughby’s depth range from 300 to 340 feet.

What sets Lake Willoughby apart is its striking resemblance to a Norwegian fjord. The lake’s shoreline is characterized by steep, rocky cliffs that rise dramatically from the water’s edge, creating a landscape of unparalleled beauty. This distinctive geology is the result of ancient glacial activity, where an ice lobe once carved through the rock formations between Mount Pisgah to the east and Mount Hor to the west. The Willoughby granodiorite and adjacent metamorphic rocks were sculpted by this glacial force, leaving behind the breathtaking landscape that defines Lake Willoughby.

Lake Willoughby is celebrated for its clarity and chilly water temperature, a testament to its pristine natural condition. Due to its depth, the lake surface freezes later in the winter compared to other lakes in the Northeast Kingdom, making it a unique spot for those eager to experience winter activities.

The lake boasts two public beaches—one on the north shore and another at the bottom of the South Bay—providing opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the scenic surroundings. The village of Westmore is located on the eastern shore, near the confluence of Mill Creek, which drains the waters of Long Pond. Additionally, numerous cottages and houses line the northeastern bank of the lake, offering stunning views of the water.

One of the iconic features of Lake Willoughby is Devil’s Rock, situated on the Mount Pisgah side of the lake. It’s a popular diving spot for both locals and adventurous vacationers. The rock gets its name from a painted image of a devil on its front, facing out toward the lake. When reflected in the still water, the image resembles a skull lying on its side. Along the eastern shore of the lake, there’s a series of natural waterslides that flow into Lake Willoughby, transforming into an ice wall for ice climbers during the winter months.

In recent years, Lake Willoughby has gained popularity among photographers and sightseers, thanks in part to the visual resemblance it bears to a fjord. The lake’s dramatic landscape, combined with Vermont’s iconic foliage during the fall, makes it a magical place to visit and capture in photographs.

For those seeking a more elevated perspective of Lake Willoughby, the hike up Mount Pisgah offers an excellent vantage point. The Mount Pisgah Trail is a rewarding trek, covering just over 4 miles and featuring an elevation gain of more than 1,600 feet. Hikers are treated to spectacular views of the lake from this vantage point. There are also overlooks closer to the trailhead that are worth exploring. Visitors can conveniently park along VT Route 5A at the trailhead for free.

Lake Willoughby, with its awe-inspiring beauty, unique geological features, and recreational opportunities, stands as a testament to the natural splendor of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. Whether you’re swimming in its clear waters, exploring its shores, or hiking its surrounding peaks, Lake Willoughby offers an unforgettable outdoor experience for all who venture here.

Location

Address: 5646 VT-5A, Westmore, Vermont
Place GPS Coordinates: 44.717409, -72.030331
Parking GPS Coordinates: 44.717409, -72.030331
Parking Notes: There are over two dozen spots located right at the shore of the lake off Route 122 along with two overflow lots. Parking is free. Parking does fill up on nice summer days and also during the fall when leaf peepers flock to Lake Willoughby.

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