Lake Willoughby

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Lake Willoughby
Location Orleans County, Vermont, United States
Coordinates 44°45′07″N 72°03′46″W / 44.75194°N 72.06278°W / 44.75194; -72.06278Coordinates: 44°45′07″N 72°03′46″W / 44.75194°N 72.06278°W / 44.75194; -72.06278
Type glacial lake (ice age)
Primary inflows glacial aquifer.
Primary outflows Willoughby River (creek)
Catchment area Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Atlantic Ocean
Basin countries United States
Max. length 5 miles (8.0 km)
Max. width 1 mile (1.6 km)
Surface area 1,687 acres (683 ha)
Max. depth 320 ft (98 m)
Designated 1967

Lake Willoughby is a lake in the town of Westmore in Orleans County in the northeast section of Vermont, United States.

The lake's southern end is surrounded by the Willoughby State Forest. This state forest includes Mount Pisgah, Mount Hor, and Bartlett Mountain (Vermont).

The lake is about 5 miles (8.0 km) long

In 2010, Yankee magazine named Willoughby as the third best lake in New England.[1]

Willoughby Lake is known for its beautiful public beach that stretches 0.4 kilometres (0.25 mi) on the north shore of the lake, or in the zone of the lake outlet. Another public beach is located at the bottom of the South Bay of Lake. The village of Westmore is located on the east side, at the confluence area of Mill Creek which drains the waters of Long Pound. Many cottages and houses are located on Nord-East bank of the lake.


The lake is known for its clarity and chilly temperature.[2] Because of its depth, the surface of the lake freezes later than other lakes in the Northeast Kingdom.[3]

Willoughby River[edit]

Willoughby River is the outlet from the lake and runs north through Brownington to feed into the Barton River. Prior to the floods of 1927, the river had three dams. All were destroyed by the flood. An iron bridge that ran from Evansville to Brownington Center was destroyed and rebuilt.[4]

A dam where the Whetstone Dam had formerly stood, was rebuilt to run a sawmill, which was still in operation in 2008. The "state Fish and Game Department" bought the dam rights to allow rainbow trout to swim upriver.[4]


A view from the north end of the lake shows Mount Pisgah (left) and Mount Hor rising up above the surface.

Lake Willoughby is a southeast trending basin. It was created by glacial action and is over 300 feet (91 m) deep in places, making it the deepest lake entirely contained in the state. Willoughby is a glacial lake over 320 feet (98 m) deep in places, the deepest lake entirely contained in the state and second to only Lake Champlain whose deepest point reaches 400 feet (120 m). Lake Willoughby resembles a Norwegian fjord.

The rock between Mount Pisgah on the east and Mount Hor on the west was eroded by a valley ice lobe. This ice flow cut across the Willoughby granodiorite and adjacent metamorphic rocks. The ice flow may have exploited highly fractured bedrock along the margin of the Willoughby pluton or joint surfaces within the pluton.[5]

Other mountains in territory of Westmore, Vermont are on:

Natural history[edit]

Willoughby is listed as a National Natural Landmark.[6] Willoughby contains rainbow trout (wild and stocked), Lake Trout, landlocked Atlantic salmon (mainly stocked), rainbow smelt, burbot, yellow perch, longnose sucker, white sucker, lake chub, common shiner, and round whitefish which is a native species of extremely limited distribution in Vermont.

Steelhead trout (rainbow trout) are not native to the region, but were imported to Lake Memphremagog from the Pacific Northwest. They migrate up the Barton River and Willoughby River to the lake to spawn.[7]

The sheer cliffs of Mount Pisgah and Mount Hor provide an environment conducive for arctic and cliff-alpine plants, as well as ideal nesting areas for the rare peregrine falcon.[8]

More than 100 bird species have been recorded around the lake including thrushes, warblers, hummingbirds, jays, finches, loons, herons and gulls.[9]


Tiny steam boats operated on the lake for tourists from 1884 to the early 1900s when steam was replaced by the gasoline engine.[10]

In 1915, Robert Frost mentioned the lake in a poem, "A Servant to Servants,
"I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water,
Our Willoughby! How did you hear of it?
I expect, though, everyone's heard of it.
In a book about ferns? Listen to that!"[11][12]


The toponym "lake Willoughby" was officially recognized on September 1st, 1992, by GNIS (Geographic Names Information System) of United-States.[13]

Local customs and culture[edit]

Devil's Rock, located on the Mount Pisgah side of the lake at a less than halfway point from the lake's southern beach, is a popular diving spot for daring locals and vacationers.[14] It takes its name from a painted image of a devil on the front of the rock facing out toward the lake. It is also called devils rock because when reflected in still water, the image of a skull lying on its side can be seen!

Along the eastern shore, there are a series of natural waterslides that flow into Lake Willoughby.[15] In the winter, these turn into an ice wall which is used by ice climbers.[16]


Lake facilities offer swimming, hiking, and ice fishing. There is a nude beach on the lake's southern shore.[17] Surrounding the Willoughby Lake, there are some campgrounds and cottage rental services for tourists. The Route 5A runs along the lake's eastern edge.


  1. ^ "NEK establishments listed in Yankee's best of NE awards". Barton, Vermont: the Chronicle. 3 February 2010. p. 7. 
  2. ^ Department of Environmental Conservation, Agency of Natural Ressources - retrieved August 9, 2007
  3. ^ Wheeler, Scott (February 2007). Good Fishermen Don't Get Old, They Become Legends. Vermont's Northland Journal. 
  4. ^ a b Northland Journal, November 2008, page 13, "The Flood of 1927," Ralph Swett
  5. ^ Ebbett, Ballard. (1981). Pleistocene Glaciation at Lake Willoughby, Vermont. Vermont Geology Vol 5. 
  6. ^ "Lake Willoughby, Vermont - Westmore, Vermont, VT". 
  7. ^ Gresser, Joseph (May 1, 2013). "Steelhead run draws crowds to Willoughby River". the Chronicle. Barton, Vermont. pp. 14A. 
  8. ^ " - Willoughby State Forest, Vermont State Parks, Forests and Historic Sites". 
  9. ^ Spring, Summer and Fall Recreation
  10. ^ Fisher, Harriet (August 2007). "Steaming Around Willoughby". Vermont's Northland Journal: 7–10. 
  11. ^ "9. A Servant to Servants. Frost, Robert. 1915. North of Boston". 
  12. ^ Pollak, Sally (August 4, 2013). "Art grows in the Northeast Kingdom". The Burlington Free Press. Burlington, Vermont. pp. 1A. 
  13. ^ GNIS - Toponym: "Lake Willoughby"
  14. ^ Barton Area Lakes and Mountains
  15. ^ "Mill Brook Falls - Waterfalls of the Northeastern United States". 
  16. ^ Thatcher, Erik. "Lake Willoughby Ice Climbs". MooneyMountainGuides. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  17. ^ Nudity is legal everywhere in Vermont

External links[edit]

See also[edit]