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Tucked into Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, Caspian Lake may well be one of the state's favorite vacation destinations. Set among the northern reaches of the Green Mountains, Caspian Lake has attracted summer visitors for many years. The shoreline is dotted with year-round residences, summer cottages and 'camps'. The nearly-800-acre lake is one of the few lakes in the area with a town beach and public boat launch that allows water skiing. Those living on the lake stress their appreciation for peace and quiet, however, and remind visitors that there are loons in residence that must not be disturbed. Somehow it seems very appropriate that, for 65 years, lake residents and visitors have rowed to the dock of a local cottage for a Sunday evening recorded concert of classical music.
The first historic record of Caspian Lake dates to 1779, when the Bayley-Hazen Road was built through the area bound for Canada on orders of George Washington. The anticipated invasion of Canada never occurred, but the town of Greensboro was chartered two years later, although there doesn't appear to have been any residents at the time. By 1791, a sawmill and grist mill were built at Greensboro, presumably by building a dam across Greensboro Brook as a power source. A dam still exists at the lake outlet, providing hydro-electric power to the local electric utility. The dam had the effect of stabilizing the water level, but there is no record of how much it deepened the lake itself. By the time the first 'campers' arrived around 1890, Greensboro and Caspian Lake were well established as both a town and an ideal Northeast Kingdom vacation spot.
Caspian Lake truly has something for everyone: Residents and visitors alike enjoy sailing, wind-surfing, pontooning, water-skiing and tubing, canoeing and kayaking. Boaters must observe the 40-mph daytime boat speed, and water skiers have specific rules as to where they can set up slalom courses. Snorkeling is reserved for the shallows, while divers enjoy the lake's 142-foot depths. The wooded shoreline lends itself to quiet evenings around a campfire ring or visiting with friends on the deck. Early morning may treat the early riser to the haunting call of a loon, while other water birds are observed during the day. Fishermen enjoy angling for lake trout, brook trout, rainbow trout and landlocked salmon in the cold water fishery. Experienced Caspian Lake anglers warn however, that submerged rocks in some areas present a boating challenge, and those who launch here should first obtain a depth map to avoid boat damage. The winter freeze soon encourages a veritable village of ice fishing shanties. Other activities on the winter ice include ice skating and ice hockey. Snowshoeing, sledding and snowmobiling are guaranteed winter attractions as are cross-country skiing and downhill skiing on nearby mountain runs.
The area around Caspian Lake is well-supplied with nature-observation venues. Just east of the lake, the 256-acre Barr Hill Nature Preserve offers excellent trails and cross-country ski paths with spectacular views of much of the Green Mountains. Barr Hill is the highest point in Greensboro. Maps for the self-guided trails are available at the trailhead. Other trails not far away include Wheeler Mountain, Mount Norris and the Mount Elmore Trail. There are opportunities nearby for mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking, all surrounded by the sounds of nature.
Cultural and heritage activities are plentiful around Greensboro and Caspian Lake. The Greensboro Blues Jam occurs from May to October on the second Saturday of each month. There are local breweries, cheese-makers, farmers markets and organic farms guaranteed to make shopping for self-catered meals a delight of discovery. The Northeast Kingdom has long been an attractive location for artists and craftsmen; their small shops and galleries can be found both in the town of Greensboro and hidden along country roads surrounding the lake. The world-famous youth circus, Circus Smirkus, is based in Greensboro, so a couple of performances occur each year in town. This famed circus training camp for youth trains young would-be circus performers in a series of camps in nearby Lyndon Center.
Locally the town beach is owned by Hardwick Electric Department, which owns the dam and is maintained by the Greensboro Association of volunteers who raise funds for improvements and upkeep. Those without a suitable swimming beach are welcome to use the town beach. A golf course nearby will keep the golf fan happy, and a variety of nearby festivals offer entertainment for all members of the family. There are even local antique shops, providing eclectic shopping and specialty browsing to antique hunters.
Vacation rentals can usually be found near Caspian Lake, with many private rentals available along the lakefront. Hotels are found locally around Greensboro and in surrounding towns, while bed and breakfasts and country inns all offer their own special perks such as spectacular views or beautiful gardens. One famous lodge has operated overlooking the lake since the 1920s. There is little build-able lakefront property left, but existing real estate is often found with established lawns and lakefront. Caspian Lake is within 75 miles of many large cities, including Rutland, Burlington, Essex and Plattsburgh, NY. It's well worth a visit to Caspian Lake to experience the relaxed lifestyle accompanied by the serenity offered by the lake and the surrounding forest and mountains. Plan to visit Caspian Lake this year - it will quickly become your favorite vacation destination for many years to come.
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