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Eight miles northeast of the town of Rutland, Chittenden Reservoir is a hidden gem. The 750-acre reservoir is surrounded by Green Mountain National Forest in the midst of the Crossroads of Vermont region. The reservoir was developed in 1909 by damming East Creek for power generating purposes. Because Central Vermont Public Service owns the lake and two feet above the high water line, and because it lies within the National Forest, there is little lakefront development. Only one resort lodge, perched high above the lake, regularly offers vacation lodgings for visitors. The lodge is open year round for visitors who enjoy hiking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Only a handful of private cottages are clustered to the west of the dam; the remainder of the shoreline is heavily-wooded and virtually untouched.
Although CVPS owns Chittenden Reservoir, a small area near the dam has been turned over to Vermont Fish and Wildlife Service to serve as a parking area and boat launch site. The parking area serves both Chittenden Reservoir and adjacent Leffert's Pond. There is no designated swimming area or dock. The access is open year-round for the benefit of ice fishermen. Leffert's Pond is a small, 49-acre impoundment wholly within the Green Mountain National Forest and is used for fishing, canoeing and kayaking from the shared parking lot. Only 12 feet deep, tiny Leffert's Pond is centerpiece for a large wetland area, and no motorized boats are permitted. Chittenden Reservoir, however, permits motors up to 15 horsepower, but are limited to a 5 mph restriction. That does not concern avid anglers who arrive at Chittenden with boat and tackle in tow. Species caught include yellow perch, walleye, largemouth bass and sunfish. A second access point is provided for non-motorized craft only at the south end of Leffert's Pond.
Chittenden Reservoir is extremely popular with nature fans. The seven-mile shoreline with its many coves and small bays is ideal for canoes and kayaks. The lake and surrounding forest land are home to many animals including moose, loons, bald eagles, osprey, beavers, many species of waterfowl, such as black ducks and mergansers, black bear, white-tailed deer, red fox, river otter and many, many more. The area is well-supplied with hiking trails; one trail begins at Leffert's Pond and extends around Chittenden Reservoir, spanning bubbling brooks and bypassing jungles of woodland ferns to provide spectacular views of the lake between the trees. The area is considered day-use only, so no camping along the trails is permitted. A small rustic camping area is located near Leffert's Pond. Canoes and kayaks can be rented near the lake.
The entire area around Chittenden Reservoir is the kind of natural paradise the city-dwelling nature lover can only dream about. Within a very few miles of Chittenden Reservoir Rutland City Forest, Calvin Coolidge State Forest, Calvin Coolidge State Park, Pymsbury Wildlife Management Area, Brandon Town Forest and Branbury State Park all preserve natural Green Mountain habitat for the benefit of wildlife and visitors alike. Within these areas hiking and cycling trails abound. The famous Long Trail, which traverses Vermont from Massachusetts to Canada, also runs close by. Built by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930, Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the United States. Trail usage is not limited to warmer months; many are accessible in winter for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and winter hiking. Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST) maintains an intricate system of snowmobile trails throughout Vermont. Sections of this trail system travel through the Green Mountain National Forest and can be accessed near Chittenden Reservoir. Local snowmobile clubs can help visitors access proper licensing and provide them with trail maps.
Downhill skiers will find the Killington ski area only 25 miles away by car. The resort overlooking the reservoir also offers downhill skiing and sleigh rides. Rutland County produces a number of festivals and special interest events throughout the year, including winter carnivals, craft shows and music festivals. In Hubbardton, located west of Rutland, the only battle of the American Revolution which took place entirely on Vermont soil was fought at Hubbardton Battlefield. A variety of organic farm markets, wineries, golf courses and theatre groups, combined with an eclectic collection of dining establishments and quaint shops, will keep visitors busy whenever they are not plying the quiet waters of Chittenden Reservoir.
Chittenden Reservoir is rare in that there doesn't appear to have been a dammed pond before the reservoir dam was constructed. Locals say when the reservoir was drained for major dam repair, an old 'corduroy road' leading across a small stream could still be seen on the now-dry lakebed. Power is not generated directly from the Chittenden Dam, but rather water travels through a penstock to the East Pittsford Station where power is generated and the water returned to East Creek to be used twice more for generating purposes before ultimately flowing into Otter Creek.
Vacation rentals on Chittenden Reservoir itself are quite rare; the occasional private residence may become available for seasonal rental or sale. Vacancies at the nearby resort, bed-and-breakfasts and inns in the area are often found, many with lovely views of the mountains with Chittenden Reservoir in the distance. Real estate on Chittenden Reservoir is likewise a rare find, although other properties may be found in the area. Such solitude and natural loveliness comes at a price of few lodging choices, unless you are willing to look diligently. Those lucky visitors who have done so certainly guard their precious find with secrecy. Once you visit, you will too. Come and sneak a peek today - you'll be glad you found it!
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