Guest Blog: Day Trip to Green River Reservoir

By 2016 guest blogger Matt Parsons

Our Expedition took root from a “reconnaissance” mission a year prior. We had left nearby lake Elmore and wanted to check out another Park before going home. Having a current car tag from Lake Elmore afforded us the privilege to enter Green River for free. This was the perfect time to check out the park. Our initial visit was short, as it was late in the afternoon and we didn’t feel like unloading our kayaks again. We stayed long enough to visit with the staff, take a few pictures and check out the boat landing. That was enough to wet our appetite for a longer visit. Further investigation through the Vermont state parks website made us hungry for more.

Green River is a reservoir surrounded by 5,503 Acres of preserved Wilderness; 653 acres of which is reservoir itself. With 19 miles of primitive shoreline we knew we had to get an early start. Our Spring had been very busy and I was beginning to show signs of withdrawals. This was going to be primarily a kayaking trip to check out primitive sites, but we always entertain the idea of how we can camp and recreate. We did bring a few goodies for a picnic lunch in case we found a vacant camp site. The only cure for me on this day would be to start a fire and cook primitively over an open fire. A little day camping never hurt anybody. ; )

The weather was perfect for our plans. Mostly sunny skies with temps in the mid-eighties and a gentle steady breeze made it feel like the low to mid-70s. Since the weather was so fine the park was at near to full capacity; even by mid-morning. We were lucky to offload our Kayaks and find a place to park. The place to offload is very tight, making for some potentially anxious moments. Fortunately everyone cooperated and got along. No surprise really, but I decided to use my Kayak carrier next time. To offload in the parking lot assures you of a spot a little quicker and you can bypass the crowd at the landing. The parking lots are small in comparison to the acreage of wilderness it support but that guarantees you a peaceful time on the water. No internal combustion engines are allowed which makes for a quiet Lake.

Several families were loading their canoes for a primitive time of camping. We moved our way to the water and shoved off for parts unknown. I don’t know why but we always seem to go in a counter clockwise direction. Maybe we are subconsciously trying to reverse time. We paddle along shore and explored every island and cove as we headed towards the east shore. Along our way we encountered a couple of loons who didn’t seem bothered by our presence. In fact one of them seemed to want a water fight.

Once we reached the east shore we came across an inhabited camp site on a peninsula. The campers were having fun, using what appeared to be a home made sail boat. The outcropping of land created a nice little cove on the backside. This seemed like a good place for Ann to pull out her book and read. I chose to break out my fishing gear and try my hand at being an angler. I recently accessorized my craft with a tackle box and fishing rod. I’m not an avid fisherman but I like to look good pretending. I threw my line out into the shadows and after a few casts I was encouraged by a bite. It wasn’t long before I landed my first fish. I didn’t bring anything to gut or fillet it with so I let it go. Satisfied to have at least caught a fish we decided to continue North on the eastern shore.

We paddled a good ways North when we came to Picnic Island. Many people were swimming, fishing, and picnicking on this small island. One couple departed from their group in a canoe only to have the family dog pursue them. Chaos ensued as both parties were calling to the dog. Two men in a canoe intercepted my efforts to bring the confused dog to shore. Happy to see the dog reach land we proceeded to move on. Not far from the island we barely spotted a vacant camp site. It was almost 3 o'clock and we needed a pee break and a bite to eat. The narrow boat landing opened up to a spacious site with a fire ring and a bench. Looking back toward the kayaks there was a nice southerly view of the mountains. This was the perfect opportunity to take my medicine. ; )

Ann immediately found the backside of a tree, while I used a composting privy that I found a little deeper in the woods. We had a hearty laugh and some good banter over the reversal. Usually I’m the more “primitive” one. ( I couldn’t resist adding this photo from a camping trip I took with my kids to Woods Island in July of 2009).

Now it was time to get serious. I pulled from my stash, a bag full of lint. I proceeded to mix it in with twigs that the last campers so graciously left behind. We were happy campers! I lit my teepee style structure and began to put on bigger pieces. When the fire got good and hot we broke out the hot dogs.

No need to look for cookin’ sticks because our campers left those behind too! We will definitely pass this blessing forward soon. The smoky char broiled hot dogs complimented the day nicely.

We took a moment to rest and be grateful. Reluctantly we “pulled up stakes”. Having more to explore was our only motivation. As we were loading our kayaks we could see a young couple in a loaded canoe making a bee line towards us. It was apparent that this was going to be their site. I dismissed any anxious or fearful thoughts of a confrontation. When they arrived we greeted them with a “fine how do you do”. A quick explanation of our presence was satisfactory to this young and easy going couple. In fact they encouraged us to take our time getting out. I exclaimed; “if we knew you were coming we would have left the fire going and swept the floor for you”. We had a pleasant laugh together and wished them a great time of camping. I wish I had gotten their names or a picture.

 We continued our northern route along the east shore. Not too far from our day camp, the waters began to narrow. We crossed under a bridge that I think serves both hikers and snow travellers. It was getting late but I was intrigued by what was beyond the bridge. We paddled a little further until we reached Heron Bay. This was a good time to turn around and head south, bit I had to resist everything that was in me to not keep going.

There were still camp sites 13 -15 to check out but they are tucked up in a long narrow stretch of water that leads to Beaver Meadow. Heading south without exploring this area is enough excuse for me to come back again. With that in mind we explored the western shore. We respected the Loon nesting signs and checked out a nearby cove. It turned out to be a nice secluded camp site that I committed to memory. We rounded the corner toward Loon Island and spotted a few more sites.

There was a long stretch of paddling ahead. Fish were jumping and I decide to throw my line out and troll. Before I knew it we were at Big Island. I already accepted that we weren’t going to see the whole park, so we decided to stay on the eastern side of Big Island. We planned to head for the landing before sunset.

The trip was ending and our words turned inward. We began to internalize the wonderful day we had exploring this vast wilderness area. As we approached the landing we could see kayaks and canoes coming from every direction. There seemed to be a silence hovering over the water that suggested others were internalizing too. We landed our boat to one side. Ann prepared the boats for loading while I went to the car and got the carrier. It was an extra step but it eliminated the need to rush. Next time I will keep the carrier on board.

We loaded the kayaks in the parking lot and headed home. This medicine was just what the doctor ordered. The cranky agitation ( “the cranks” ) had gone away and I was feeling refreshed. My enthusiasm for work was renewed. Most importantly, the little boy in me was satisfied. No pill or needle can do that!


  1. Great post, Matt. We were there last week. Such a beautiful park! As we were heading back to the launch from our campsite, we tried sailing our canoe with our kitchen tarp. Worked like a charm! Maybe you saw us...

    1. Thanks Tara, I have enjoyed your posts as well. I remember seeing a father and son in what appeared to be a makeshift sailboat near campsite 4. Was that you? We explored the little cove behind that site. That is where I caught the perch which is pictured in this blog.


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