Surrounded by clear waters of the 850-acre Waterbury Reservoir, the Little River State Park is a quiet and secluded place to get away and relax. Located deep in 4,000 acres of the Mt. Mansfield State Forest and only a few miles away from Waterbury Center State Park, this one of the most picturesque and popular state parks in central Vermont.
Until its establishment in 1962, the land on which Little River State Park lies was rich in agricultural production as early as 1800. This was the case for subsequent years until the Winooski River and Little River flooded in November 1927, destroying much of their produce. Following further floods, Waterbury Reservoir was constructed in early 1935 as a flood control project. Today, RV guests can see the remnants of destroyed buildings by taking a historical tour of the area.
Do not be fooled by the word little as this park is packed with tons of outdoor activities, making it a favorite RV destination. Beyond the serenity of the dam, guests can see the mountains from a distance on a clear day. Boating, fishing, and picnicking are just a few of the recreational activities to choose from. The park also has plenty of great activities available off the water, including 4.5 miles of mountain biking trails and numerous hiking trails.
The campground at Little River State Park is highly rated by guests, so you can expect a pleasant stay with plenty of amenities. Little River State Park is open from mid-May until late October each year.
Located just over five miles from the town of Waterbury, Little River State Park can be easily accessed by all types of vehicles, so if your RV is under 40 feet in length you will have no trouble getting to and from the park. There is one entrance and exit located down Little River Road that starts off as being a gravel surface and changes to a dirt road for the last mile until you reach the entrance. When driving on the unsealed road, it is recommended to go slow so that you don't damage your rig.
If you need to get any supplies before leaving for your trip there are plenty of places for you to visit, including Waterbury (around five miles away), Waterbury Center (around eight miles away), and Stowe (around 15 miles away). The closest city to the park is Montpelier, which is around 17.5 miles to the southeast.
Though well-maintained, some roads in the campground are narrow for big trailers so take your time when navigating to your site. Don't plan on visiting Little River State Park during the winter months because it will be closed.
If you are just visiting for the day, there are many parking lots, including near the Nature Trail Area.
Little River State Park has one campground that includes suitable sites for RVs and travel trailers. The campground is gorgeous and a very popular place to stay, so get ready for a trip.
The campground is pet-friendly and divided into two sections: A and B. There are RV-friendly campsites available in both sections of the campground with a total of 41 sites. All of the sites are primitive with no hookups available, but there are some site-specific amenities. These include flat camping pads with a fire ring and picnic table, along with multiple water collection points that are only a short walk away. Other campground amenities include a dump station, toilets, coin-operated showers, and easy access to swimming areas.
The campground is open from mid-May to mid- October and campsites can be reserved in advance so that you don't miss out on a site upon your arrival.
The camping options at Little River State Park even include specific first-come, first-served sites. There are a total of 27 first-come, first-served sites that are located on the shoreline of the reservoir, all of which are primitive. Another thing to note about these first-come, first-served only sites is that they can only be accessed via boat, so you won't be able to walk to them like most first-come, first-served camping options in state parks. There are no water collection points either, but you can make use of a privy at each site. These first-come, first-served sites in this area of the park are available completely free of charge and can be used anytime that the park is open.
Visiting Little River State Park and looking for a more luxurious stay? If so, consider reserving one of the cabins available in the campground. Four of the cabins are located in the A section, while the remaining cabin can be found in the northern B area. All of the cabins are suitable for up to six people, and five of the cabins are ADA-accessible.
Within the cabins, you will have some great amenities waiting for you to enjoy, including an electrical outlet to charge any of your devices, a set of bunk beds, futon or couch with a sleeper, a table, and two chairs. There is also a covered porch for you to enjoy, a picnic table, and a fire ring.
Please note that you must bring your own linens when staying at one of the five cabins since none are provided. The Bear in loop A is the only cabin suitable for pets, so if you plan on bringing a furry friend you should reserve this one.
A unique feature of Little River State Park is that there are 20 lean-to camping sites. These sites are primitive and feature a shelter that you can use as protection from the elements during your primitive camping experience.
The lean-to sites are suitable for up to eight people to use at a time, and there is also room for medium-sized tents, so if you want to do some tent camping these sites are a great option. Pets are allowed at all of these sites but be prepared for a primitive camping experience with no hookups available.
The lean-to sites can be reserved prior to your arrival like the standard RV/tent sites. Reservations can be made up to 11 months in advance.
If you are interested in traveling to Little River State Park with a group, you will be happy to know that there are two group sites that you can reserve. Featuring enough room for up to 100 guests at any time, the group camping area is located in the B section of the campground. There are no special features to the group campground in comparison to the regular sites, so don't expect any hookups. You are allowed to bring RVs and tents into the group site, which is always a plus.
Along with the main group camping area, there is also a smaller group camping site known as the Spike Loop. Here there is enough room for up to 20 guests, and you can also bring RVs to this group camp.
Reservations for the group camping areas can be made prior to your arrival, and since there are only two available, it is recommended that you make a reservation.
For swimmers, there are two serene beaches, which means there is plenty of room for you to stretch out. The beaches are also a nice place to stroll along the shores or just sit and relax in the evening as you watch the waters and the nearby thicket. If you are camping with your family, you can easily access them from campsites, or if you are visiting for the day you can park in one of the lots and make a short walk over. When in the water, make sure that you swim to your ability since there are no lifeguards on duty.
Waterbury Reservoir is a prime recreation area for water enthusiasts, so if you are interested in having some water-based fun during your visit make sure to check it out. This is the most popular place for visitors to gather, and you can spend time boating, paddling, or kayaking along the reservoir. If you don't have your own watercraft, there are rentals available from the park so nobody will have to miss out on having some fun in the sun.
From self-guided nature trails to historic trails, Little River State Park has some of the best trails in the region. The nearly five-mile-long Stevenson Brook Trail leads visitors to explore the ruins of Ricker’s family cemetery, sawmill remains, walls, roads, tools, and bridges. The trail is well labeled and has a wealth of information on the history of settlers living here before the floods. This trail has some steep sections, so keep that in mind before you give it a go. Other popular trails include the Dalley Loop Trail and the Sawmill Loop Trail that goes around the park.
Thanks to an extensive forest, Little River State Park can provide shelter for coyotes and chipmunks. In recent years, black bears are increasingly being sighted within the park. Few birds can be spotted on the shoreline. In the mornings, a variety of birds can be seen soaring high in surrounding Green Mountains. During the night you will be soothed rhythmic hymns of the loons. Owls nesting on the park trees are also common when taking nocturnal hikes, so there will be plenty of wildlife watching opportunities available.
The park runs a series of interpretive programs during the months that it is open. Make sure you check the programs available during your RV visit. Commonly featured programs include twilight tours, campfire programs, and amphibian explorations. For plant and wildlife lovers, the park’s naturalist takes visitors through guided nature tours educating them on flora and fauna. For kids, there are organized interactive games and ranger programs. History buffs will love the long hike to the flood ruins.
Little River State Park offers great family-friendly fishing. Anglers can catch plenty of trout including rainbow and brown trout. Other common fish species in Waterbury Reservoir include bullhead, rainbow smelt, and yellow perch. Smallmouth bass is native to the reservoir’s shorelines. Anglers can either fish from shores or from a boat. A valid fishing license is mandatory and can easily be purchased in the town of Waterbury or online from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.