Burton Island is a 253-acre park off the southwestern tip of St. Albans Point in Lake Champlain’s 'Inland Sea'. The park is accessible only by boat, with the state’s passenger ferry making the 10-minute trip from Kamp Kill Kare State Park.
Walking trails access much of the island's shoreline. The Southern Tip Trail, which ends at a scenic picnic area, is also open to bicycles (there is an extra fee to take bicycles on the ferry).
The park also has 17 tent sites and 26 lean-to sites plus 15 boat moorings and a 100-slip marina with Wi-Fi (wireless internet) connection, dockside electricity, and a marine holding-tank pumpout facility. This, with ferry service to the island (no vehicles) from Kamp Kill Kare, makes Burton Island one of the most unique parks in Vermont. Rest rooms have running water and hot showers ($).
18th century maps refer to this as the “Isle of White.” Jesse Welden, an early St. Albans settler and agent for Ethan and Ira Allen, is attributed with clearing and farming the island. As recently as 1874, Lake Champlain navigation charts label it “Potter’s Island,” though C.C. Burton, a farmer on the mainland, was using the island for pasture by the 1840’s. Sidney Burton owned the island through the early 1900’s and leased it to tenant farmers who raised cows, pigs, sheep and chickens. Crops included beans and peas. Remnants of the island’s agricultural past such as fence lines and stone piles, rusted farm implements and the foundation of the old barn are still visible.
Sidney Burton built a hunting and fishing camp on the eastern point in 1902. Ida Lashway inherited the island and continued leasing to tenant farmers, selling it to Randall Dimon in the 1950’s. The Dimon’s summered in the cottage for many years after selling the island to the State of Vermont in 1962.
Burton Island State Park opened in 1964. Original plans to build a causeway was abandoned for the unique appeal of an island campground without cars. A marina was built to accommodate boats. Ferry service was implemented in the 1980’s. The marina is a lively stopover for people cruising the lake. The campground is popular with those who enjoy relaxing on a semi-remote island away from cars.
Early logistical problems posed by the lack of a nearby mainland access to Burton Island led to the acquisition of Kamp Kill Kare, a former boy's camp at the tip of St. Albans Point, in 1967. Kamp Kill Kare State Park provides support facilities for Burton Island, including parking lots, a boat ramp and the ferry dock and breakwater. Kamp Kill Kare is a day use park with a swimming beach, picnic area and group shelter. Renovated in 1982, the 1870’s-era railroad resort hotel on the grounds now includes staff housing and public rest rooms. The first floor lobby includes historic photos of both parks.
More information can be found at the Vermont State Park website.
For more information, visit the VT Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation online or contact:
From St. Albans Bay: Go 3-1/2 mi. SW on Lake Road (Rt. 36) and then Hathaway Point Road to Kamp Kill Kare State Park. Passenger Ferry to Burton Island which is accessible only by boat; no vehicles. Ferry runs 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ($)
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