Little River State Park is located in the mountains of northern Vermont, approximately 30 miles south of Burlington. The 44,440 acres of Mt. Mansfield State Forest, where Little River State Park is located, was once stripped of trees when early pioneers settled the area. Remnants of these 19th-century settlements, scattered gravestones, wells, and foundations, are hidden amongst the park’s hiking trails.
These communities started to dry up in the 1920s when a power company began buying up properties one parcel at a time, with plans to build a massive hydroelectric dam. Those plans were stymied in 1927 when a massive flood swept through the area, covering the land in several feet of water. To fend off further floods, the Civilian Conservation Corps, with help from the Army Corps of Engineers, built a dam and constructed the 880-acre Waterbury Reservoir. The CCC’s massive camp was abandoned but soon became the nearly 5,000-acre Little River State Park. Today, you can rent an RV in Washington County and explore the mountains, go swimming, take a hike, and fish at Little River State Park.
Waterbury Reservoir offers numerous water-based recreational opportunities for visitors. Little River State Park campers have access to camper-only swimming beaches located near the campgrounds, where you’ll also find a boat ramp. Boats are available for rent at Waterbury Reservoir, which you can use for waterskiing, canoeing, or fishing. Anglers can cast for bass, rainbow trout, and brown trout; anyone 15 years and over will need a fishing license. The camper beaches are adjacent to grassy areas where you can picnic and play volleyball.
Little River State Park has an extensive network of hiking trails. Many of these trails are historic in nature, taking hikers through the numerous remnants of the Ricker Basin and Cotton Brook settlements. Most of these trails trace the paths of the old roads that connected the farms, schools, and churches of these communities. Many of the trails are named after the points of interest that you’ll pass, like the Sawmill Trail and the Ricker Farm Trail. These trails have a wide range of lengths and difficulty levels, accommodating all hikers.
There are some fantastic mountain biking opportunities at Little River State Park, so bring your bike or rent one from a nearby outfitter. Easy trails gently follow the contours of the Dalley Loop Trail, while you can bomb down the more challenging single track on the Stonewall Trail and Highbridge Trail. Some of these trails are multi-use, so you may also encounter hikers and horses.
Camping at Little River State Park
The RV campground at Little River State Park is seasonal, closed for winter and early spring. You’ll find 70 RV sites at this campground, a mix of pull-through sites and back-in sites that can accommodate the largest rental RVs. Large, level lots offer ample shade and privacy provided by thick trees and vegetation. Several of the campsites at Little River State Park are near the water, but on bluffs that prohibit direct water access. You will, however, have trails leading to beaches.
Campground amenities at Little River State Park include modern bathrooms with hot showers, drinking water, and two playgrounds. None of the campsites have RV hookups, but there's a dump station at the campground. Each site comes with a picnic table and a fire ring. Pets are allowed in the campground if they’re on a leash, but they’re prohibited on the beaches. There's a small swimming area for pets near the campground boat ramp.
Exploring the Area
Northern Vermont is a beautiful region worthy of further exploration in a motorhome rental. You’ll find plenty more outdoor opportunities at nearby Moss Glen Falls Natural Area, Camel’s Hump State Park, and Elmore State Park. Waterbury Center State Park is a small day-use area on the other side of the reservoir where you can find even more fishing, boating, and wildlife opportunities. This area is also rich in history. The acclaimed Vermont Historical Society Museum is just a few miles south of Waterbury, and you’ll find several museums in Vermont’s capital of Montpelier, 18 miles south.
If you find yourself camping at Little River State Park on a rainy day, head into Waterbury to check out the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, go skating at the ice rink, or tour a cider mill. There are several great diners to choose from where you can find home-cooked comfort food. You’ll also find essential grocery shopping and resupply in Waterbury. But if you need to do any heavy shopping, continue 15 minutes down the road to Montpelier, where you’ll find big-box stores and several travel centers for restocking your RV. Montpelier is right on Interstate 89, an ideal location for making your way to your next Vermont camping destination.