Lake Fairlee, Vermont, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - New England - Vermont - Eastern Vermont Gateways -

Lake Fairlee is a lake where memories are made. The 450-acre lake in the Eastern Vermont Gateways region is a natural lake, enlarged by damming a tributary of Ompompanoosuc River in 1939. Actually, Lake Fairlee is the second water body to hold the Fairlee name; nearby Lake Morey was originally called Fairlee Pond. This tends to confuse those not familiar with the region. Both lakes were once part of the town of Fairlee – a typical New England town that included a large amount of acreage. Lake Morey was near the business district of Fairlee and Lake Fairlee about five miles to the southwest of town. A ridge of hills separated the two locations and the town split in two, with West Fairlee, Post Mills and Thetford a separate entity altogether. They inherited Lake Fairlee.

All types of water sports are enjoyed at Lake Fairlee except personal watercraft – banned by the Sate of Vermont. Residents and visitors alike enjoy sailing, wakeboarding, water skiing, tubing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking. Although there are a number of summer cottages and year-round residences along the lake, much of the shoreline is still wooded as large areas of the lake are owned by summer camps. Since 1906, at least nine children’s camps have held sessions on Lake Fairlee; four are still in operation.

Lake Fairlee is an excellent fishery: rainbow trout, brown trout, lake trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and perch from the lake have all been represented on the state size records. The town of Thetford along the southeast shore provides a boat launch for local residents, and the state Fish and Game Department owns a public boat launch on the northeast shore along the highway. Huge trout are caught in Lake Fairlee, with the inlets of Middle Brook and Blood Brook most attractive to fly fishermen. In winter, ice fishing and ice skating are favorite activities on the lake if the ice is thick enough.

The Lake Fairlee Association works to assure good water quality and keeps a close eye for invasive species. The very active organization works with the towns to provide annual events, organize clean-up days and keep cottage owners up-to-date on current issues, new regulations and expectations. The town of Thetford maintains a recreational facility with swimming, tennis, picnic grounds and child’s play area that is open to residents of West Fairlee and Post Mills for a nominal fee. Canoeing is very popular, as is kayaking in the hopes of spotting bald eagles, herons and raptors hunting their dinner near the shore.

Around Lake Fairlee, there is much public land available for hiking and cycling. The West Fairlee Wildlife Management Area, Fairlee Town Forest and Thetford Town Forest all offer limited opportunities for mountain biking and nature observation. The Podunk Wildlife Management Area is only six miles west of Lake Fairlee and offers both hiking and ponds for fishing. The Wildlife Management area is an excellent spot for bird watching, and autumn colors here are absolutely spectacular! Groomed snowmobile trails, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails are all plentiful in the area near Lake Fairlee. There’s even an old-fashioned drive-in theater near Fairlee for summer evening entertainment.

Lake Fairlee was likely better known a hundred years ago than now. In 1869, Thomas Henry Chubb began to manufacture fine fishing rods and sell all sorts of fishing gear from a factory in Post Mills. Chubb’s father, a former commodore in the Confederate Navy, built the town’s first summer hotel, the Commodore House, and helped promote the idea of marketing Thetford’s scenery and climate to summer visitors. Other summer hotels were built, cottages began to dot the lake shores, and there was a boat livery – and a steamboat – at Post Mills.

A succession of summer camps for children offered healthy outdoor activities to city children, resulting in the three camps now operated by the Aloha Foundation and the YMCA Camp still in existence. One of the camps is a family multi-generational camp, where adults can relive their childhood fun and introduce the summer camp experience to their children and grandchildren. West Fairlee was once an important copper mining area. The dam is owned by the owner of the former mill site in Post Falls. An amusing tale in the area relates that, when the mill changed hands, the new owner declared he owned the water and opened the dam to let the water out. This promptly lowered the water level by seven or eight feet, leaving the camps’ swim docks in shallow water. The state of Vermont had to step in and declare ownership of the water.

Vacation rentals are usually available on Lake Fairlee if reserved early in the spring. Most are private self-catering cottages rented by the week or month. Several bed-and-breakfasts are located in the area, although not directly on the lake. The area to the east near the Connecticut River is well-supplied with country inns, often with specialty dining. Real estate in the area around Lake Fairlee is occasionally available, sometimes on the lakefront itself. Only 65 miles to Rutland and 40 to Montpelier, Lake Fairlee is close enough to draw you for a weekend or a lifetime. Come experience the traditional Vermont lake vacation. Lake Fairlee’s waiting for you.

Things to do at Lake Fairlee

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tubing
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Ice Skating
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Drive-in Theater

Fish species found at Lake Fairlee

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Brown Trout
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Trout

Lake Fairlee Photo Gallery

    Lake Fairlee Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

    Water Level Control: Pr

    Surface Area: 457 acres

    Shoreline Length: 6 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 679 feet

    Average Depth: 23 feet

    Maximum Depth: 50 feet

    Water Volume: 10,511 acre-feet

    Completion Year: 1939

    Drainage Area: 20 sq. miles

    Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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    Trophic State | LakeLubbers

    Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

    An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

    A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

    A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

    The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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    Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

    Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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    Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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    Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

    Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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    Completion Year | LakeLubbers

    This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

    The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

    You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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    Water Volume | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

    You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

    Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

    1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

    The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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    Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

    You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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    Average Depth | LakeLubbers

    This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

    Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

    Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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    Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

    At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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    Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

    Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

    When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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    Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

    This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

    You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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    Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

    This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

    A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

    When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

    You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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    Surface Area | LakeLubbers

    This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

    The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

    You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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    Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

    This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

    Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

    "Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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    Lake Type | LakeLubbers

    There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

    - A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

    - A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

    - A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

    "Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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