Lake Champlain Beach

A summer day at Alburg Dunes State Park, VT.

Swimming in Lake Champlain is one of the most popular activities in the Basin. A hot summer day will find beaches crowded with people seeking refreshment in the Lake’s cool waters. About 54 public or commercial beaches and 10 private beaches line the Lake’s shores. Nearly one million people use the beaches annually. Most beaches are found along the central and northern portion of the Lake, which has clearer water and many sand or shale beaches.

Local health departments in New York and Vermont sample the water at public beaches to determine if there is any threat to human health from pathogens such as fecal coliform. Pathogens, including E. coli, giardia and cryptosporidium, can cause gastrointestinal illnesses when ingested accidentally while swimming. The Basin has experienced occasional beach closings at municipal beaches. Plans have been initiated in local communities to control pathogens from animal waste, urban runoff and failed septic systems to keep swimming areas clean and enjoyable.

Toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) are also of concern for beaches. For the past several years, beaches on the Québec portion of Missisquoi Bay have been closed due to cyanobactetia blooms, and health advisories have been issued in New York and Vermont. Read more about both these concerns on the Human Health Issues page.