July 2012  

Vermont State Parks Newsletter

Greetings Everyone!


Ahhhh, yes, summer is here and in full swing! We who live here tend to get a little carried away trying to pack so many things to see and do into our short but wonderful summer season. On the plus side, there are limitless  opportunities! On the down side, trying to do everything makes the season fly by that much more quickly! Take some advice from a veteran outdoor enthusiast...get outdoors as often as you can, take a hike, go for a swim, or just relax outside with your friends and family. And when you do, look around closely and sense the smells, sights and sounds of the outdoors. Make each experience that much more valuable by really immersing yourself. You'll be the better for it! As we often say, visiting a park, being active and connecting with nature is really good for the body, the mind and the soul. We are lucky to have such a large, diverse system of state parks that are so close to all of us and offer so many different kinds of opportunities for us to benefit from. So, as soon as you finish reading this summer edition of our newsletter, get out there! That's where I'm heading!    


Craig Whipple

Director, Vermont State Parks

Outdoor Observer: The Behemoths of the Forest

By Rebecca Phelps, Education Coordinator

Look at any hillside in Vermont and you will see at least a few trees standing head and shoulders above the others. 

Most of these are Eastern White Pine trees and they are the heirlooms of the original New England forest.  Nothing says summer to me more than lying on the ground under a looming white pine, watching the blue sky scatter through its branches as the huge boughs wave in the wind.


I grew up in Maine, the Pine Tree State, so you can imagine my affinity for these giant trees.  As a child I spent weeks camping in campgrounds called things like "Lakeside Pines," "Hid'n Pines" and "Cathedral Pines."  Now I visit state parks across Vermont like Brighton, Quechee and Woodford and enjoy the shade of these giants of the forest.


When Europeans first arrived in what is now New England, they were greeted by a rolling forest of gigantic white pine trees, among other species.  There were so many white pines that the pollen they release in late spring covered all the ships at sea.  There was so much yellow pollen that the superstitious sailors thought that brimstone was raining down on them.


The pines that these European explorers greeted were even bigger than the ones we have today, they were at least 150 feet high and over four feet in diameter.  150 feet is higher than a nine story building.  Early Vermonter Ira Allen was so taken with the giant trees that he featured one prominently in his design of the Vermont State Seal.


White pines are not just taller and thicker than other trees, they grow more quickly and their wood is light and strong.  Because of this they are prized for the quality of their wood.  Very quickly the Europeans started cutting the trees and shipping off the lumber to Europe. 


Not only valuable for sawn lumber, these trees were also perfect for ship masts.  There were no other trees as tall and straight as the while pine, so King George III of England declared all white pines in New England at least 24 inches in diameter at the base and within three miles of a river as property of the Royal Navy.  These trees were given the broad arrow mark with an axe to mark them as property of the king.  These 20-ton trees were hoisted onto 3 pairs of wheels and dragged out of the forest by teams of 40 oxen for as far as 20 miles. 


The popularity of white pines for these uses and the clearing of forest land for farming by settlers lead to the decimation of the vast white pine forests.  Pine trees are shade intolerant, which means they only grow in bright sun and young pines cannot grow up in the shade of the parent trees.  We see young white pines growing up in abandoned fields today, while the seemingly random sprinklings of adult trees grow tall in sandy, well-drained, acidic soils. 


On your next walk in the woods, take some time to smell the sweet smell of pine needles in the sun, or have a seat underneath one of these giants of the forest and watch the blue sky moving through the green branches.  Look for these behemoths in state parks across Vermont.


You can live for years next door to a big pine tree, honored to have so venerable a neighbor, even when it sheds needles all over your flowers or wakes you, dropping big cones onto your deck at still of night. ~Denise Levertov

Hiking in the Rain
by Megan Davin  
Sometimes it rains here in Vermont, and every now and again it rains on your day off when you want to go hiking. And some days, you stay at home and others you are itching to be active. I am normally feeling the latter. 

A few weeks ago my mom was up visiting and we wanted to check out Elmore State Park and the famed Elmore Mt. Trail, but as usual it was raining on my day off and I was impatient. But my mom grew up sailing, so she is used to being in the rain, so we went for a hike.

Pulling up to the gate we were greeted by two chipper attendants who were thrilled that people were coming in on a rainy day. We were given directions and a map and went on our way. Upon arriving at the trailhead there was only one other car, but as I was lacing up my shoes the group came down and entered their car and drove away, we were alone; just myself, my mom and dog Penny.

We set out for the Elmore Mt. Trail, with the fire tower as our final destination goal.
Elmore Mountain's summit (elev. 2,608 feet) is the site of one of Vermont's few remaining fire towers. The mountain is part of the "Hogback Range" and offers hikers spectacular views. Unfortunately, we were not going to enjoy these views, because the mountain was socked in with fog and rain. 


The whole way up we encountered nature at her finest, full of bubbling streams, chirping birds, and the peacefulness of being ultimately alone in the woods, on what would normally have been a very busy trail. But once we got to the actual trailhead it was like every other Vermont hiking trail, relatively narrow and beautiful with growth all around. 


Upon reaching the summit, the fire tower seemed to appear out of nowhere and the rain was whipping about blowing all over. Being a fire tower enthusiast we climbed to the first platform, but when Penny was determined to follow and the rain was whipping my face it was time to turn around.

The journey back down is always easier than the way up and in total we only passed one person. The next time it rains, I encourage you to go out and explore, it will be a peaceful and rewarding experience. And hey, a little rain never hurt anyone, right?

Sun Boxes come to Vermont

Sound artist, Craig Colorusso, returns to Vermont with his solar powered sound installation; SUN BOXESSun Boxes is a solar powered sound installation, comprised of twenty speakers operating independently, powered by the sun via solar panels.


For 5 weekends this summer, Vermont Sate Parks presents Craig Colorusso's, Sun Boxes. They will be showing at five locations, allowing the participants to observe the piece evolve as it moves through the state. "I'm looking forward to presenting this piece in State Parks, they're the epitome of Public Space, " Says Colorusso.


July 5-7 at Elmore State Park in Lake Elmore

July 13-15 at Grand Isle State Park in Grand Isle

July 20-22 at Knight Point State Park in North Hero

July 27-29 at Silver Lake State Park in Barnard

Aug 2-5 at Camp Plymouth State Park in Ludlow

We're excited to go swimming in the parks, get out, and explore. Have fun!
Vermont State Parks 
Go Ahead and Book Your Getaway Now: We Have Risk-free Reservations!
Reservation Staff
Reservation call center staff. 
Make that  camping reservation  now and plan your adventure in a Vermont State Park, you've got nothing to lose!

If you make a camping reservation and are unable to come, just call the Reservation Call Center or the park by 2:00 PM on the day before your arrival. When you call, you can switch your reservation to a new date this season with no penalty.


During the park operating season, reservations for dates 14 days or less in advance are made directly by calling the parks.


Reservations for dates 15 days or more in advance may be made online or through the Reservation Call Center


We book 11 months in advance and are now accepting reservations for 2013!


Reserve online or
Call 1-888-409-7579
Mon - Fri 9am - 4pm


Now that's happy camping!

Mountain Bike Vermont


Would you like to check out Vermont's State Parks as well as some of the best mountain biking New England?


Conveniently many of Vermont's state parks are in close proximity to Vermont's greatest mountain biking. Here are some suggestions of areas close to mountain biking and Vermont state parks. Be sure to check out the full map of Vermont mountain biking clubs to see where the great riding is. Take it from me it is worth the journey. -- Megan Davin


Stowe/ Waterbury Mountain Biking:

Kingdom Trails/ Burke Mountain:


Pine Hill:



The Vermont Mountain Bike Festival is July 14th & 15th so book ahead to get a spot in one of our state parks.

Vermont Mountain Biking Association

Mountain Bike Vermont

Download our Free Vermont State Parks iPhone App!  
Oh Ranger AppNow, it's easier than ever to explore Vermont's 52 State Parks and all they have to offer. This FREE App is available for iPad, iPhone, and iPhone Touch. Download this app now. 
Earn FREE Park Entry and Bragging Rights!
VV coinYou and your family can spend the season outside and earn points for visiting beautiful places and doing fun adventures!

If you earn 250 points you will be awarded a Gold VIP Pass to Vermont state parks. With it, you are given FREE day entry for any Vermont State Park for the rest of the season and next year's too!


To learn more or to download a score sheet and get started visit our Venture Vermont Page.



We want to give a big shout out of thanks to Anna Deke for her closing photo of sunset at Lake Carmi State Park and to Lené Gary's for her opening shot of Kettle Pond

Anna, first became interested in photography when she and her husband moved to Arizona.  They would make weekly trips up to Sedona, and fell in love with landscape photography. Then they moved to south Texas where there were lots of animals and tropical flowers, that were interesting to shoot close up.  Anna and her husband have now settled in Enosburg Falls, Vermont and she is loving the photo opportunities that we have: Lakes, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, animals, bridges, farmhouses and the list goes on and on.


Lené Gary is a writer, poet, and recreational photographer living in central Vermont. Her writing has won national literary awards and appears in both print and online journals. Her photographs have been published in One New England, Vermont Nature, and The Bridge. When she's not writing, she can be found paddling her well-worn Mad River canoe.

Thanks Anna and Lené, for your great contributions!

On the Calendar  


Wood Carving by Mark LeClair at Waterbury Center July 14 at 2pm

Mark has years of experience using a chainsaw, but in recent years discovered how to create beautiful carvings with his powerful tool. Come watch as he transforms a regular log of wood into carved animals (available for purchase too).


Plant Identification at Camp Plymouth July 21 at  10:30 AM


Steven Schlussel, a.k.a."The
 Weedman", will lead a plant identification walk where participants will learn the names and uses of local flora and tips on how to identify plants in the wild. Meet at the Nature Center.

Check out The Parks This Summer at Your Local Library
check out the parksVisit your local library this summer, check out a book to read under a tree, and check out a state park pass while you're at it. Every library in Vermont has at least one parks pass that can be checked out and that pass will permit up to 8 people in one vehicle into any Vermont State Parks Day Use Area!
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