January 2011
winter pup
A snowy trek for a four-footed hiker (taken by Photography Intern, Linda Everett)

Vermont State Parks


Greetings Everyone!

wavingcraigsnowWhen you are thinking of fun things to do this winter, don't forget your favorite state parks! It's a great time to be outdoors to get a little fresh air and exercise and to witness the happenings of nature during our Vermont winter. Just dress properly and be prepared for a fun, challenging adventure! You'll be glad you did!

With the new year, let us all be reminded about the importance and value of getting outside with our children and encouraging free, active, and unstructured play no matter what season. I know you understand this because you are reading this newsletter! But , all across the country this is an issue of massive proportions. See our article "No Child Left Inside". Study after study has shown that the increase in attention problems, stress, diabetes, heart problems, and obesity among our young people today is directly connected to the decrease in time spent outside playing.

As a society, we need to all work to reverse this trend. And a lot of people are already engaged in the effort. Check out the Children and Nature Network (www.childrenandnature.org) for more information, and help us spread the word, won't you?

See you out there!

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer: There's a Weasel in the Woodshed

By Rebecca Phelps, Conservation Education Coordinator

A beautiful weasel

As we stoke up our fires and sip hot cocoa in our flannel pajamas, animals are coping with the chilly weather out in the forests and state parks of Vermont. Living with such drastically changing seasons requires flexibility and resilience in our wildlife species. Some animals migrate to warmer regions-taking long and often obstacle ridden trips in order to spend the winter months in milder conditions.  Some animals slumber the winter away in a state of hibernation or torpor. Yet, some animals stay active and find unique ways to cope with the cold weather.

Animals that stay active tend to grow thicker fur to trap air close to their bodies that acts as insulation against the cold. Some animals like to move into our homes to stay warm.  Those of you who live in similar climates understand how difficult it is to keep mice out of your house when the temperatures drop.  One great way to deter these small rodents, that I discovered accidentally, is to have a weasel move into your woodshed.  My woodshed is attached to my house, so the weasel is in a great location to nab mice that are on their way from the good habitat of a woodpile to the great habitat of my kitchen. 

Weasels have another way of coping with winter in addition to eating mice, their fur changes color.  Weasels in summer months are brown with white bellies and black tips on their tails. In winter, they turn white all over except for the black tip on their tail. You can imagine that this coloration is a great camouflage, protecting weasels from other predators and increasing their ability to catch prey.

A white weasel easily blends into a snowy background

Interestingly, weasels begin to turn white based on photoperiod or length of daylight. So, even if we have a winter that does not start out with lots of snow, the weasels will still be white. The white fur is actually a molt, meaning that their brown fur falls out and white fur grows in to replace it.  Sometimes, you can spot a weasel in the process of turning white in the fall or turning brown in the spring. It will have splotches of both colors.

You can find these efficient predators across Vermont, anywhere there is an adequate supply of rodents and forest habitat. Look for them on your next winter visit to Allis, Gifford Woods, Brighton, Woodford, Branbury, or Underhill State Parks. 
A Need for Speed in Woodford State Park 
snowshoe race 2009
Seventy-five snowshoers begin the 3.3 mile race 

A leisurely walk in the park is not what the annual Woodford State Park Snowshoe Race is about. This fast-paced 3.3-mile race drew over seventy-five athletes who competed for respect as well as good Vermont eats - a loaf of bread from Vermont Bread, Green Mountain Coffee, bagels from Works Cafe & Bakery, donuts from Mrs. Murphy's Donuts, and locally made bean soup, all of which they get to dig into after crossing the finish line. Competitors ages ranged from thirteen to seventy-plus and all of the athletes finished the race under an hour and twelve minutes - the winning time was an amazing twenty minutes!


The winding trail allows racers to see how far ahead they are of fellow racers

This snowshoe race in Woodford State Park has kicked off the Western Massachusetts Athletic Club (WMAC) snowshoe race series since 2001. Veteran Race Director Jack Quinn has learned much since then. He began the Woodford race with fellow snowshoe enthusiast John Pelton. Together they have created a well organized and well attended outdoor event.

Jack prepared for the day's event by making sure the course was free of fallen trees and overgrown bushes, which was surprisingly easy this year. Woodford State Park volunteers, Hamilton Topping and Lorna Cherlton, put in great energy and enthusiasm into improving the trail last fall. Hamilton and Lorna added planks in low areas, filled in gaps with boulders, and trimmed back vegetation. The trail work has already been much appreciated - even in the off season! Another helping hand, Dave Dunham of Northfield, MA, went out pre-race and prepared the course for runners by marking the 3.3-mile trail with flags to ensure no one would lose their way.

Victorious Snowshoer
A happy snowshoe race finisher

For more information on snowshoe racing, to see more photos, or view results, visit Western Massachusetts Athletic Club online. You will notice in the photos that the athletes tend to be smiling more at the finish line than any other place on the course. Well done racers!

Seyon's Hot Even in the Cold Months

A wintry view of the backside of Seyon Lodge
As the wintry snows of Vermont come blowing in, you'll find the lights on and a welcoming greeting at Seyon Lodge State Park in Groton, Vermont (also one of this year's winners for Park of the Year!). Seyon is a quiet park tucked into the rolling hills resting in the southern part of the Northeast Kingdom. The park has always been popular for cross-country skiers and snowshoers, but this year, Seyon has a new trail ready for use.

Just before the snow started flying, a new trail circling all of Seyon Pond was finished. Vermont Youth Conservation Corps worked very hard to complete the trail and their work paid off. Its varied terrain is perfect for snowshoeing (approximately 1.5 miles around). If you don't have your own snowshoes, it's not a problem. Snowshoe rentals are available at the lodge. An added bonus to the trail is that after a fresh snowfall, the trail is groomed for guests and day use visitors. Click here for a map of the new trail.

Snowshoers excited about their hike in Seyon
A unique feature of Seyon is that overnight guests are provided with bed & breakfast style lodging. The food is delicious and visitors have the option to have dinner at the lodge as well. Click here for a sample menu(warning: you may begin drooling if you choose to view the menu).
It's hard to mention Seyon Lodge without mentioning two important components of the park, JessieMae and Emmet. Both are veteran park innkeepers at Seyon and many visitors have been noted as saying that these two people go above and beyond their call to duty, famous for creating a warm and cozy environment. They make Seyon a special place and show how much they love being there, by taking such good care of the grounds and their visitors. When you visit, make sure you take time out of your day to chat with JessieMae and Emmet!

JessieMae creating homemade baked goods
Wondering how much this great experience will be? Seyon's prices can't be beat. Two people staying at the Lodge get accomodations and access to the whole park for just $75/night - that's for 2 people!

Do you need a cozy space for a winter retreat? You can rent the whole lodge which accommodates up to 16 people for $600/night (includes breakfast). *An inside tip: the weekends are usually full at Seyon, so book during the week for more options.

Seyon can provide a great location for business meetings or conferences. An intimate setting, the meeting room holds up to fifty people and meals for your meetings can be catered to suit your needs. Call Seyon directly for more information: 802-584-3829.
**Note: With Valentines Day right around the corner, Seyon tends to get booked quickly, so make your reservations today! 
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks.

Please shake off your boots before coming in the house and save some hot cocoa for us!

Vermont State Parks

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Winter Tales and Photos!


nothern pike
What a whopper of a pike! Great catch!

Do you have a great wintertime story and/or photos that you'd like to share?


If so, send them to us and you could be selected as a 'feature' in our next e-newsletter, blog posting, or facebook posting.


Examples include challenging hikes, a successful (or unsuccessful) building of snowmen or igloos, your pet enjoying fresh snowfall, or a first attempt at an outdoor winter sport.


Send photos and stories to:

Email: parks@state.vt.us

Mail: Vermont State Parks
        Attn: Winter Photos

        103 South Main St.
        Building 10 South

        Waterbury, VT 05671

No Child Left Inside 

Sledding is a fun reason to get outside in the winter

Children are spending less time outdoors and less time in free play. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey completed in 2009 found that children spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day in front of television and computer screens. When converted to a per week rate, it is equal to 53 hours and 26 minutes of screen time. That is more than a full time job!

Lots of other research has been done on this subject that clearly links the decrease in time spent playing outdoors with increases in a variety of physical and emotional problems in our children.

NO TV VV_Weightlossarticle
Try doing a week or more of no TV!

To combat this trend, take time to share the outdoors with children. Show them how to make a snowman, go for a walk in the woods, or take a look at the little things outside, like snowflakes or plants.  

snowshoeing family
Exploring the woods on a sunny winter day

Some of the best memories are made by snowshoeing with friends and family (click here to access great snowshoeing trails in the parks). People never remember their best day watching television, but memories of childhood winter adventures will stay with your children for life.

Wanted: Great People to Work in Vermont State Parks
killkare staff
Kill Kare State Park staff

Do you enjoy being outside? Are you a people person? Do you have a good knowledge of Vermont and want to share it?

If "yes" was your answer to any of those questions, working in a Vermont State Park could be the right job for you. 

We are lucky to have many experienced staff, volunteers, and interns return year after year, which also shows that working in Vermont State Parks is a fun job! (Check out our volunteer and internship opportunities)

Shaftsbury State Park's staff

Rangers, interpreters, attendants, and trail crew members will say, there is no typical day when it comes their job, but one thing is consistent, you will get to work in a beautiful 'office', the picturesque playgrounds hikers, campers, fishermen, etc. enjoy. 

See our employment page for more information.

Spend your summer making memories in cool places with great co-workers and getting paid to do so!

Top Places for Winter Sports!

When the water freezes a whole new range of adrenaline filled sports are possible. One of the more challenging is stormboarding or snowkiting(skiing on ice with a kite that makes you go, go, go!) 

For the past seven years, stormboarding enthusiast Rachel Miller hosts an event called "Kitestorm". This year the annual festival will be held February 26-27 in Sand Bar State Park. Check out her website for more information.
Stormboarding in Sand Bar State Park
Other activities to do on large frozen lakes in Vermont include: ice fishing, ice skating, and cross country skiing. Access any of the parks during the winter season by checking the off season access guide.
Great Ice 2011
Lake Champlain draws a crowd even in the winter
Great Ice in Grand Isle 2011 is a major VT winter outdoor celebration in Vermont and not one to be missed. The Great Ice festivities, which include a bonfire cookout, a chili contest, an ice golf tournament, and a frozen regatta, take place in North Hero village February 5 -20, 2011. One popular event, Trek Over and Back to Knight Island State Park happens on Saturday, February 12, from 11am to 3pm. This is the only time of year when you can walk to Knight Island on foot! Skate, ski, snowshoe, sled, or stormboard from City Bay to Knight Island State Park. Warm up at the ranger station on Knight Island with hot beverages before heading back across the frozen lake (four-miles round trip). Visit Lake Champlain Islands Chamber of Commerce for more information on all events.
Knight Island Winter
Taking a hike on a lake can only be done this time of year!
Further south in Vermont, you can visit Lake St. Catherine State Park or Silver Lake State Park for a great day of ice skating or a pick-up game of hockey (or broom hockey for those without skates).

For those wanting to camp this winter in the parks, request an off season camping form before heading out for your adventure. 

Be sure to dress warmly for all of these sports! Have fun!
Follow-up Links
sled banner
Having some good 'ol fashion
  sled riding fun