Lake Carmi State Park


Today we say goodbye to Burton Island and its tranquil environs and return to the mainland by ferry. Although Lake Champlain is massive in size, it averages only two feet deep. I’m surprised the big ferry we’re in can float above the lake bed.

We start the day riding by tons of family farms. Lots of dairies and lots of corn. It’s impressive how much corn Vermont grows.

The quiet farm roads lead us to the town of Swanton. A few highways converge in town, making it feel busier than its tiny population. We stop at the grocery store to resupply and then head to a park in town for lunch.

It’s already feeling really hot. Although only in the mid 80s, the humidity adds at least 10 degrees. We hold sweating soda cans to our necks and sigh. We swear to get earlier starts the next few days with the forecast showing similar weather.

At this point we could have left our sleeping bags and sweat shirts at home. It’s too warm at night for bundling up.

From Swanton we hop onto a rail trail that will take us almost entirely to Lake Carmi State Park. The trail consists of butter smooth crushed pea gravel. It feels almost as efficient as pavement. The mellow grades make the miles go by quickly.

We continue to pass big fields of corn. The ears look ready to pick, but we don’t stop to steal any. There’s plenty of local corn for sale if we want some.

Passing the open fields means there’s no shade. We look forward to when the trail dives back under the tree canopy, which is dense and dark and so much cooler.

The last few miles to the campground switches back to pavement. We climb a short but steep hill. The sun is beating down our backs, but there’s a healthy breeze that prevents us from melting to the road.

We descend to Lake Carmi and check in with the ranger. He shows us a mason jar of spinach-green liquid and says that we can’t swim in the lake because it’s experiencing an algae bloom. Fertilizers from the local farms make their way into the lake, which provides food for the algae to grow. When the algae dies, it sucks up the oxygen in the lake, killing the fish and other critters. All that corn growing has consequences.