Paddle the South Bay, a small, shallow appendage of Lake Mempremagog, beautifully surrounded by low hills and known for exceptional birding. The bay is fed by the Black and Barton Rivers, both of which run through the South Bay Wildlife Management Area. These rivers offer a fun side paddle to explore the quiet waters where they meet the lake.
The entrance to the Black River is tucked in tall grasses and tricky to see. We nearly gave up, but once we found the opening, we were glad to be there. Persistence and a map will pay off. Paddling up the flatwater estuary is like snaking through tall grass winding around secluded corners happening upon herons, kingfishers and possibly beaver.
This trip is worthwhile in its own right, but if you are looking to paddle in the Newport, Vermont area when the north winds make Memphremagog a daunting undertaking this is a great alternative. The water is protected by a high ridge to the north making it a protected haven from Canadian blows.
Put-in and take out at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife South Arm Access Area launch at 619 Coventry Street in Newport. A second access option on the Barton River can be found on Glen Rd to the south east of the bay. Online trip planning support.
The town of Newport, sited on the main part of the lake is one of Vermont’s most charming with a variety of excellent lodging and eating establishments, grocery stores, outfitters and gear shops. Try a sampling of what the region has to offer at the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center and visit local brewers Brian and Jenn Cook at Kingdom Brewing after your paddle. Explore the region further by boat or bike – you can paddle or pedal into Canada if it strikes your fancy, so bring your passport.
- NFCT Section: Section 6
- Put In: Vermont Fish and Wildlife South Arm Access Area launch at 619 Coventry Street in Newport
- Take Out: Vermont Fish and Wildlife South Arm Access Area launch at 619 Coventry Street in Newport
- Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce
- The Great Outdoors of Newport
- Little Gnesta
- Paddle Memphremagog South Bay
- Trail Features