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A perfect reflection of brightly colored mountains among a blue backdrop is cast upon Lake Memphremagog's smooth, motionless surface. A kayaker, sitting peacefully among his surroundings, opens his eyes to watch a rippling motion move across the top of the water. Tales of an underwater serpent called "Memphre" come to mind, its large, looming presence now a distinct possibility as the ripples continue.
The images of Lake Memphremagog's black, 50-foot long serpent are quickly banished as a fish flashes on the surface, its scales catching the bright, Quebec sun as it dives down to safety. The 25,205-acre international lake, whose 75-mile shoreline stretches across Vermont and Quebec, has had over 200 documented sightings of an underwater creature much like its Scottish cousin, the Loch Ness monster. Visitors snatch up vacation rentals yearly and locals with lakeside real estate frequent the lake as much for its mystical lore as its intense scenery.
Lake Memphremagog's glacial waters and isolated forests were first inhabited by the St. Francis Indian community and were gradually taken over by European settlers in the late 1700s. The large lake, known also as Lac Memphremagog, meaning "beautiful waters" in Abenaki, became an upscale vacation area afterwards, though it presently remains a relatively remote place to visit.
The lake, which is fed by Barton, Black and Clyde Rivers entering the lake's southern shores, supplies drinking water and electricity to various municipalities. There are three active hydropower dams on the Clyde River, two owned by private companies and one owned by the village of Barton, Vermont. A dam was built across the Magog River on the Quebec side of the lake in the late 1700s.
Set among a myriad of mountains, Lake Memphremagog attracts photographers snapping photos of brilliant fall foliage and youthful snowboarders carving their way down mountains in the winter. Miles of hiking trails -- including a portion of the Long Trail, the oldest long-distance trail in the U.S. consisting of 272 rugged miles -- weave around the lake's lengthy body of water. Snowboarders hoping for fresh powder to dig their board into or snow skiers looking to race down the mountain, poles against their side, can take their pick of ski resort mountains surrounding the lake.
Calm waters await anglers armed with strong fishing poles, colorful bait and plenty of time. Those settling down at the base of Owl's Head mountain, where depths reach over 350 feet, can look forward to snagging an assortment of fish, including trout and landlocked salmon. Other species lured in by the patient angler include rainbow trout, brown trout, speckled trout, walleye, chain pickerel, smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch and panfish.
If thinking about the lake's underwater serpent isn't enough to keep hearts pumping, grab two oars and kayak towards Skinner's Cave, a jagged opening leading to what was once a historic haunt for smugglers. Or pack a bite to eat and canoe to one of the many islands dotting the middle of the lake. Scuba dive along the shoreline and make up your own pirate's tale, discovering loot in the form of petrified wood, rocks or washed up trinkets.
Amusement at Lake Memphremagog is not always lurking behind hidden coves, but instead includes family activities such as suntanning alongside one of the shore's many beaches during the short but sweet summers. Sailboats skim the lake's surface as gusts of winds artfully move them across the waters. Some take up golf while before retiring to a candlelit dinner in town.
Depending on which side of the border you're visiting, activities can range from seeking out Quebec's quaint Magog city or Vermont's bustling City of Newport. Stroll along Newport's boardwalk towards the downtown district or escape the city and check out alpaca and elk farms. Cheer on swimmers who attempt the annual race across Lake Memphremagog, a 24-mile long race each summer from Magog to Newport, or participate in the exposition and trapeze shows during the event.
Not far from Quebec's city of Magog rests the Parc du Mont-Orford, a national park boasting cross country skiing in the winter and biking and boating in the summer. Wind your way through miles of trails to quietly observe the park's white-tailed deer, or rest your feet at one of the park's lakes and watch a Great Blue Heron stride confidently through the water's edge. Lake Stukely and Lake Fraser attract swimmers and boaters through the summertime, while more intense mountain climbers and snowshoers escape the crowds during the fall and winter.
Orange and red-tinged mountains make for a beautiful backyard for those wishing for the perfect real estate property. Vacation rentals are scattered throughout Lake Memphremagog's winding shoreline, making it easy to choose a spot close to a city or away from the social atmosphere. Check out this international lake for fishing, snowboarding, hiking or simply relaxing.
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