The Rivers of Vermont

Words To Know

- Watershed

- Drainage Basin

- Tributary

- Water Gap


A Beautiful Mad River Picture

The Mad River


Vermonts Rivers have always been important in our history. They have provided a means of travel, an early source of power for mills and a way to get logs downstream. Today they are used for recreation, as a source of water and as a way to dispose of treated sewage water.

There are four watersheds in Vermont. They are 1) The Connecticut, 2) The Memphremagog-St. Lawrence, 3) Lake Champlain-St. Lawrence, and 4) The Hudson. A watershed includes all the land that is drained by a network of rivers and streams, which flow into a larger body of water such as a river, lake or ocean. Imagine that you could look at the entire watershed all at once, perhaps in a satellite photograph. The watershed might look like a huge basin. In fact, watersheds are sometimes called drainage basins. When a small stream flows into a larger stream or river, the smaller stream is called a tributary of the larger stream.


Vermont Trout Streams and Rivers

Use this site to explore the numerous trout streams and rivers throughout Vermont. [This site is currently unavailable we are working to correct the link]

See a demo of all the things that could be done at the Vermont Trout Streams site.

The Connecticut River Basin

The Connecticut River is one of New Englands major waterways. It begins in northern New Hampshire, flows between New Hampshire and Vermont, then through Massachusetts and Connecticut where it reaches the Atlantic Ocean, about 400 miles from its source. Some of the major tributaries of the Connecticut River in Vermont are the Passumpsic, Waits, White, Black and West Rivers. Unlike the few larger rivers that flow into Lake Champlain, there are many smaller, rapid flowing rivers that are also tributaries to the Connecticut River.


The Connecticut River

The Lake Champlain- St. Lawrence River Basin

Most of Vermonts largest rivers are part of the Lake Champlain drainage basin. Lake Champlain drains north into the Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River in Canada. The Winooski, Lamoille and Missisquoi Rivers rise (or begin) well to the east of the main crest of the Green Mountains. They have cut great valleys through the mountains as the land rebounded (or rose back up) after the weight of the glacial ice retreated. The places where the rivers have cut through the mountains are sometimes called water gaps. The Missisquoi River flows through the northern Green Mountains and then into Canada. The river then swings back into Vermont on its way to Lake Champlain. The only national wildlife refuge in Vermont is located at the mouth of the Missisquoi on Lake Champlain.

The Otter Creek is another Vermont river that empties into Lake Champlain. It is the longest river entirely within Vermont. Otter Creek flows out of the Valley of Vermont, through the towns of Rutland, Brandon, Middlebury, and Vergennes, and empties into Lake Champlain in the town of Ferrisburg.  

Sunset on the St. Lawrence

The Hudson River Basin

Part of the Hudson River watershed takes in the southwestern corner of Vermont. The Hudson River flows south through New York State and empties into the Atlantic Ocean at New York City. The Batten Kill and Walloomsac River are the two main Vermont Rivers of this watershed. Kill is a Dutch word for river or stream and reminds us that Dutch settlers once lived in this area.


The Lake Memphremagog-St. Lawrence River Basin

Four Vermont Rivers flow into Lake Memphremagog. The Clyde, Barton, and Black all flow north and reach the lake near Newport. The Johns River flows into Quebec before reaching Lake Memphremagog. A number of small northern Vermont streams, including the Coaticook River, drain north into Quebecs St. Francis River.

  Lake Memphremagog

Lake Memphremagog

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