By Karrie Thomas, NFCT Executive Director
Where can you go for a day trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in Vermont to paddle two rivers (about seven miles) and not have to run a shuttle? It’s not a trick question: the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge!
My husband Culley and I took the kids to Swanton and parked at Louie’s Landing. We paddled a loop down the Missisquoi River to Lake Champlain, turned east at the mouth of the river and followed the shore south to link the whole thing by paddling back up a braid of the Missisquoi referred to on our map as Dead Creek (NFCT Map 4).
The water here is calm – perfect for beginners and little kids – and almost no other paddlers were out once we left the landing. We immediately saw an immature bald eagle very close up as it flew from its perch on one side of the river to another. This was a huge thrill for my five-year-old naturalist Finnegan who has been extremely keen on birds of prey lately!
We stopped for a picnic once we got to the lake, chased frogs and cooled our toes. There is a very impressive heron rookery on Shad Island at the mouth of the river. It was empty when we were there in July, but I can only imagine how fun it would be to see in the spring when the birds are holding court.
Back at Louie’s Landing we tested out the new invasive species wash station installed by NFCT interns and volunteers this summer. The simple, low maintenance design made it so easy to wash our canoe and do our part to stop the spread of invasives across the Northern Forest.
Another successful adventure, and we made it back to the car just in time to hit the creamee stand on the way home. Is it ever too late for ice cream?