Tried the 12-mile water trail loop starting at Louie's Landing in Swanton, VT this weekend. I'd say it is a nice easy paddle for experienced/strong kayakers, or a challenge for beginners (my husband, who has very well-develloped upper-body strength, barely felt any burn, but I - having hardly any upper-body strength and being a beginner paddler - am definitely feeling sore a day later!). The river was lovely, and we saw lots of beautiful birds, especially towards where the river meets the bay at the top of the loop. The bay itself was also beautiful, just a little more difficult to paddle due to wind and small waves. The only negative thing I have to add is that the loop is open to motor boats (mainly for fishing I suppose, since I imagine there are better access points for boats out on the bay or Lake Champlain). There were quite a few out there with us. And while no one was racing through - they were in fact mostly stationary for fishing - nothing breaks the serenity of your paddle (and scares the birds away) like a passing motor boat with the noise and accompanying smell of gasoline. But that's really the only down point, other than the motor boats it was a wonderful little route!
PS Stop by the Refuge main office on Tabor Road (about 3 miles past Louie's Landing) before heading out; they will give you a map, and you can use the bathrooms because there are no bathroom facilities along the water trail (the loop took us 4.5 hours to complete). The bathroom at Louie's Landing was locked, though there was a port-o-john for those brave enough to attempt it.
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