You might save this “Make A Day of It” trip for a warm summer day because in Barton, a swim in Crystal Lake is nothing short of refreshing. And even if you don’t swim, you can relax on the expansive lawn under the trees or sit at a picnic table in the shade.

And there are more “cool” things to do in the area: try a hike at Willoughby State Forest, take a horseback ride or visit a museum housed in a granite-block building.

“We are nestled in the Northeast Kingdom, among the treasures of nature,” said Joanne Beloin, principal of St. Paul School in Barton. “This allows us to participate in activities such as hiking, biking, swimming, camping, fish and boating.”

Crystal Lake is near not far from the center of Barton — and the Catholic school — in Orleans County. It is a three-by-one-mile glacial lake, 100 feet deep in places. Route 5 runs along the lake’s western shore.

The lake is owned by the State of Vermont and managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The state park begun by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression was completed in the 1940s and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

About eight miles away is Lake Willoughby in Westmore. The state forest there features two mountains, Mount Hor and Mount Pisgah, whose sheer cliff faces make up the “Willoughby Gap” with Lake Willoughby sitting between the cliffs. Known as the “Lucerne of America” because of its similarity to Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne, Lake Willoughby is considered one of Vermont’s most spectacular lakes.

The state forest offers hiking trails with views of the gap and the cliffs as well as swimming opportunities.

“Family time outside with nature is a wonderful way to connect with your children and make lasting memories,” Beloin said.

If you’re looking to do something indoors, visit The Old Stone House Museum, a museum run by the Orleans County Historical Society in nearby Brownington. A former dormitory for the Orleans County Grammar School, it opened in 1925 as the museum of Orleans County history. The four-story granite block building was constructed in 1836; the historical society purchased it in 1917 to save it from destruction by a building company, intent upon using the granite blocks for railroad bridges. Its 30 rooms contain exhibits of furniture, paintings, tools, textiles, folk art, and other items to tell the story of early Orleans County. Two barns display antique agricultural implements, boats, horse-drawn transportation and maple sugaring equipment. The museum’s mission is to inspire public interest and foster resect for and understanding of the unique history of the Northeast Kingdom, especially Orleans County.

109 Old Stone House Road, Brownington

Telephone: 802-754-2022


Conversion of St. Paul Church

Mass was first celebrated in Barton in 1851, and in 1878 a Congregational church was purchased and converted for use by the Catholic community. It is believed that the church’s name was chosen because of this “conversion.” The current church opened in 1903.

Mass is celebrated in the church, now part of Most Holy Trinity Parish, on Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

St. Paul School, located next to the church, offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

St. Paul Church

85 St. Paul Lane, Barton

Telephone: 802-525-3711



Originally published in the Summer 2018 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.