Flood Risk Management
Life could be very different for area residents if not for the dam at North Hartland Lake. The dam is located on the Ottauquechee River, a tributary of the Connecticut River. Its purpose is to hold back the Ottauquechee in times of flooding, in order to keep down the level of the main channel of the Connecticut River. North Hartland's dam is one of a series of flood control dams on tributaries of the Connecticut River. These dams have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damage, and protect lives and property in four New England states.
The Reservoir Regulation Team (RRT), located in Concord, MA is the "nerve center" for the New England flood control dams such as North Hartland Lake. Using radio and satellite communications, RRT constantly monitors river levels and weather conditions that influence flood control decisions. By monitoring these conditions, RRT can coordinate the efforts of all the flood control facilities in New England.
Corps personnel, in conjunction with RRT, regulate the amount of water released downstream by raising or lowering three 6'x10'6" gates located in the gatehouse. In times of high water, the gates are lowered in order to hold back the water, only to be released when downstream river conditions begin to recede.
While the area's history of severe flooding means a permanent flood control dam is needed here, some years are decidedly drier than others. The most water the dam has held back since it was built was in April 1987 when 135 feet of water was stored. This is about 100 feet more then normal.
With more than 1,700 acres of land ranging from forests and fields to wetlands and a reservoir, North Hartland Lake has recreation opportunities for everyone! In summer months, visitors can swim, sunbathe, and picnic in shady woods or in one of our shelters.
Anglers can try their luck in our annually stocked lake. A boat launch is available for sailors, and this is a popular location for canoeists to launch from and explore the beauties of nearby Quechee Gorge. For those who want to explore the beauties of nature on dry land, we provide a nature trail, plus ranger conducted programs. Winter sports such as snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are also popular activities at North Hartland Lake.
Stop by at the Nature Center, located near the large shelter and the bathroom, for fun games and information for children.
Also, visit the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center to find out more about the history of this area and information about local businesses. The visitor's center opened in 2005, and since this time, more than 600,000 people have visited the center. Visitors all agreed that the center was a much needed addition to the community and we invite you to come enjoy the building for yourself. Visitor information, both electronic and brochure format, is now available along with interpretive displays about the history of the gorge and local flora and fauna.
The Visitor Center is located on Route 4 between Quechee State Park and Quechee Gorge, approximately 8 miles from Woodstock, Vt., and two miles from the intersection of I-89 and Route 4. The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Ever wish you could identify some of the area's flowers? Learn how to make a cough remedy from what's growing right under your feet? Explore Quechee Gorge with someone who could explain how it came to be? Send your kids to a FREE, nature oriented day camp and get them away from the television this summer? Well, wish no more! North Hartland Lake offers a variety of free programs in the summer months. They range from wetland rambles to insect safaris. Ever wish a ranger would come to your school or organization and present a program of YOUR choosing? North Hartland Lake rangers have done off site programs on topics ranging from historic flooding, to wildlife, to water safety, as well as on site programs for large groups upon request. So, please, leave your pets at home and join us!
Reservations and Fees
Nothing's more enjoyable than a picnic during the summer. At North Hartland Lake, picnickers can dine near the lake or in the shady woods or take advantage of our covered picnic shelters.
Our shelters can be reserved for a fee. Grills are provided at the shelters, with playground equipment, horseshoe pits, volleyball nets, and restrooms nearby.
A Nature Center with exhibits and activities for children of all ages is also located in the recreation area. North Hartland Lake has also been the site of large gatherings ranging from weddings to Scout day camps and "Klondike Derbies."
The large upper shelter is located near the bathroom and the playground. It is on the left side of the road when driving into the park.
The small shelter is on the right side of the road when driving into the park. It is across from the playground and bathroom.
The large lower shelter is the newest shelter. It is located on the right side of the road and closer to the beach.
For more information on shelters and special use permits, please call (802) 295-2855.
- Boat & canoe launch - $1.00
- Swimming beach - $1.00 (over 12 yrs. old)*
- "Upper" picnic shelter reservation (large covered shelter which accommodates roughly 100 adults)- $85.00
- "Lower" picnic shelter reservation (large covered shelter which accommodates roughly 100 adults)- $85.00
- "Small" picnic shelter reservation (small covered shelter which accommodates roughly 60 adults) - $65.00
- Annual passes - $30.00
*Maximum fee per day per vehicle - $4.00.
The fees vary depending on the event. Please call the Park Manager for more information.
North Hartland Lake is more than 1700 acres with a variety of forested lands, wetlands, fields, and the lake itself. Park Rangers use an assortment of management practices to improve or conserve the different habitat types. One such management practice is prescribed burning to maintain important open field habitats at North Hartland Lake. Certain species of wildflowers benefit from this practice while others require wooded areas to grow. Mowing of fields and artificial nest structures are also used to keep the project lands attractive to a variety of game and nongame species. Forest management, including thinning and harvesting, is also used. Brush piles are assembled in different locations to create cover for small animals. This brush pile was assembled with help from interns from the Student Conservation Association (SCA). Park Rangers also work with local high school students to learn about forestry.
To insure that this remains a wonderful place for both humans to visit and animals to live, Corps rangers work with other federal and state agencies to maintain biodiversity of the project.