Sun-dappled waters along Lake Willoughby’s northeast shoreline at the WilloughVale Inn & Cottages.
Photo Credit : Carl Tremblay
Stunningly beautiful Willoughby is wedged between Mounts Pisgah and Hor, each more than 2,500 feet high. A century ago this fjord-like lake, more than 300 feet deep in places, was home to competing hotels, while excursion steamboats plied the waters. Today this is a quiet, even haunting, place cloaked in the 7,000-acre Willoughby State Forest in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. In midsummer, North Beach, despite its clear water and spectacular view, is almost empty, except for a flock of seagulls circling overhead. South Beach, nearly five miles down, is smaller but more popular thanks to White Caps Campground, a source of camping fare, breakfast, lunch, rental canoes, kayaks, and Wicked Willy T-shirts. (“Willy” is Willoughby’s monster.)
“There are times when you paddle out and it’s perfectly calm and then the wind will pick up and you better head for shore,” Linda Maden says. Linda and her husband live on Cape Cod, but for more than 20 years they’ve called the RV they keep at White Caps their summerlong home. “It’s so beautiful and peaceful here,” Linda explains. “No jet skis. Some outboard motorboats, but mostly kayaks and sailboats.” Once or twice a summer they climb up to Pulpit Rock on Mount Pisgah, and every day she can, Linda paddles on the lake. Near sunset they stroll down to the beach to watch the peregrine falcons soar off the cliffs.