Emerald Lake State Park is aptly-named. The azure blue waters shine like a gem and attract swimmers, campers and hikers from all over New England. The lake is nestled between the Taconic and Green Mountains, which form a hidden, narrow valley in southern Vermont. Swimming in the turquoise waters is the main attraction; the water is cold, clean and clear. It's the perfect escape from the heat and humidity that hangs over New England in July and August.
The 103-site campground is wooded and spacious with three camping loops to choose from. There are 66 sites that are suitable for tents or RVs, and 37 three-sided lean-tos. A few of these are ADA-accessible. Each loop has a trail to the lake and the beach. Loop A is closest to the water, and loop C is farthest away (but also less crowded). None of the campsites are waterfront, but it's an easy walk down the hill to the lake. Bikes are a great way to get around if you plan on spending lots of time going back and forth between camp and the beach. The campsites are all surrounded by hemlock trees and deeply shaded. Half of the sites are perched on a steep, wooded embankment, so if you're camping with small children, consult the map before requesting a site.
Dogs are permitted in the campground and on all of the trails. They aren't allowed on the sandy beach or in the picnic areas. Hot showers are provided for $0.25, and most of the restrooms are modern and clean. Be sure to hike the Vista Trail or swim out the the island and give the rope swing a go. There's also an interesting old cemetery off of the Meadow Trail.