Paddling with Vermont Canoe & Kayak

Vermont Canoe & Kayak Invites Locals to Paddle the Lamoille River

By Ken Picard
Story originally published in Seven Days on 06|22|2020.

Paddling a river is a great metaphor for life. Some days the ride is lazy and tranquil, others wet and wild. But even when you don’t know what’s coming around the next bend, it’s always about the journey, not the destination.

For more than a decade, Vermont Canoe & Kayak in Jeffersonville has served locals and tourists who come to dip their paddles into the nearby Lamoille River, enjoying all that its environs have to offer. That includes the nearby distillery, winery, retail stores and scenic bike trail.

Vermont native Bronwyn Decker and her husband, Dean, bought the business in 2019 from a friend who was retiring. Based in Jeffersonville along Route 15 behind the Family Table restaurant and the Cupboard Delicatessen & Bakery, VCK offers canoes, single and tandem kayaks, and standup paddleboards for rentals or guided trips and tours. And with four shuttles running to three put-in spots upriver, Decker said, the company allows paddlers to spend as little as 90 minutes on the water, or as much as an entire day.

“One thing we encourage is to pack a picnic,” she added. “Be prepared to swim, hang out on the beaches, relax and paddle at your own pace.”

VCK has partnered with Jim and Yva Rose, owners of Lamoille Valley Bike Tours in Johnson, for an E-Bikes & Boats tour. The four-hour excursion starts on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, where travelers hop on electric-power-assisted bicycles, or e-bikes, and pedal the historic railroad corridor for a 30- to 45-minute scenic ride to Jeffersonville. There, travelers grab their canoes or kayaks for a 90-minute paddle downriver, then get shuttled back to their e-bikes for the return trip to Johnson.

E-bikes can be ridden either like conventional bicycles or using motors that reach speeds of 20 miles per hour, making them ideal for novice and experienced cyclists alike.

VCK’s Water & Wine tour is a three-hour excursion featuring a scenic paddle tour, plus a downriver stop at Boyden Valley Winery & Spirits in Cambridge for an hour of nibbling Vermont cheddar and sipping local vino.

Other VCK river tours include stops at the Vermont Maple Outlet and the award-winning Smugglers’ Notch Distillery. There’s also the Ice Cream Float tour, a family-friendly river run that features beachside Ben & Jerry’s and other frozen treats.

As Decker pointed out, this stretch of the Lamoille River is rated as Class I, meaning that it’s wide and easy to paddle, with gentle curves, few obstacles and no whitewater.

On the Lamoille, it’s easy to get away from it all, as paddlers can spot deer, geese, eagles, muskrat and beavers. One paddler even saw a black bear along the river.

VCK offers a 10 percent discount on self-guided rentals to Vermonters with valid IDs.


Seven Days Staytripper Series

Created by Seven Days, the Staytripper: The Road Map for Rediscovering Vermont” series presents curated excursions statewide. The series was originally published from 2020-2022 and highlights Vermont restaurants, retailers, attractions, and outdoor adventures to spotlight all corners of the state.