September 2013 
Kayaking at Kettle Pond State Park
Vermont State Parks
Craig Whipple
Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks

Hello Everyone!


One of the things I hear regularly from friends, colleagues and the general public at places like the grocery store is "So, now that Labor Day weekend is over, you guys can relax because the state parks are closed down for the winter." No, no, no, no! As you can see from this edition of our newsletter, nothing could be further from the truth! Things are really bustling in state parks during these wonderful fall months. Well over half of our campgrounds are fully operational through Columbus Day and all our trails, picnic areas and even some of our beaches see lots of people outdoors enjoying the nice fall weather having fun, being active and reinvigorating in one of the most beautiful places on earth during its most beautiful time. Be sure and find time amidst your preparations for winter to get outside, go for a hike, go camping or just find a brightly colored tree to sit under. You'll be glad you did!

See you out there!


Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
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The Outdoor Observer: 

Fall Foliage Bonanza 

By Rebecca Phelps, Conservation Education Coordinator


Apple cider, crisp sunny days, cable knit sweaters, red and gold Green Mountain views; it is autumn in Vermont. Fall fireworks are wonderful here because of the diverse combination of tree species, moisture rich soils, varied topography, and perfect climactic conditions.    


We see the best autumn leaves here in Vermont when we have a warm, wet spring, a summer that is not too hot or too dry, and a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights. Based on this equation, we are in for a real treat this fall.   


This summer while you paddled Green River Reservoir, went fishing at Bomoseen, and hiked at Branbury, trees all over the Vermont landscape were busy using chlorophyll to make food using the chemical process of photosynthesis. Plants capture the sun's energy using chlorophyll in their leaves. During this process chlorophyll makes simple sugars using water and carbon dioxide.  Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color.  


Over the summer the chlorophyll continuously breaks down and is replaced in the leaf, and so leaves stay green. As autumn approaches the chlorophyll is replaced at a slower rate, the supply starts to diminish and then chlorophyll begins to disappear.

Other color pigments that have always been in the leaf begin to show as the green color fades away. These are the carotenoids, the yellow, brown, gold and orange colors you see across the Vermont landscape. These pigments bring color to ash, beech, maples, poplar, birch, black cherry, and alder.  


The beautiful red colors you see on maples and oaks come from another type of pigment, anthocyanin. This red pigment is not always present in the leaf like yellow pigments; instead they form when we have warm fall days and cool but not freezing nights.  The leaves continue to produce some sugar during the day when it is warm in autumn, and the cool temperatures at night prevent the sugar sap from flowing through leaf veins and down tree branches into the trunk. So leaves manufacture anthocyanin, which is essentially a sunscreen protecting the sugars in the leaf from breaking down in the sunlight, and allowing the tree to recover the nutrients out of the leaves before they fall off at the end of the fall foliage extravaganza. The anthocyanin pigments combine with carotenoids to display the brightest, most brilliant colors.   


Here is the recipe for enjoying the best foliage around: put on that cable knit sweater, or your well-worn Johnson woolen mill coat, fill your thermos with warm apple cider, and head on out. Some of my favorite leaf peeping spots are at Coolidge, Mt. Philo, New Discovery, Mt. Ascutney, Emerald Lake and Underhill State Parks. 

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn."

-John Muir, Our National Parks

Your Guide to Fall Hiking
Can you imagine a better time to take a hike? The air is now cool and crisp, the sunlight is golden, and the trees are ablaze with color. Hiking gives you the chance to set your own pace as you crunch through the leaves, explore new trails, and take in astounding views of Vermont's beautiful landscape.  We have chosen a few favorite hikes to try out this fall:


Mt. Ascutney State Park in Windsor has the distinction of claiming Vermont's first organized mountain trail, constructed in 1825. The mountain is believed to have inspired James P. Taylor to establish Vermont's Long Trail, and led to the development of the Green Mountain Club and the idea for the Appalachian Trail. There are four different trails to the summit of Mt. Ascutney: the Futures Trail, the Brownsville Trail, the Windsor Trail, and the Weathersfield Trail. The Weathersfield Trail is a 2.9 mile, half-day hike. Located on the southwest side of the mountain, this trail offers many opportunities for scenic views. Hikers are immediately rewarded by Little Cascade Falls, a miniature waterfall less than a half a mile along the trail. Take a slight detour and visit Cascade Falls, a larger waterfall with panoramic views. Continue on to Gus' Lookout and the West Peak Vista, a hang-gliding launch site. Both spots are great places to take in the sights. The summit is only .4 miles beyond the vista. Take a rest and check out the observation tower, with astounding
outstanding 360 views. Visitors have the option of driving up the Mt. Ascutney Parkway to an elevation of 2,800 ft., and walking the remaining mile to the summit via the Slab or Slot trails.


Allis State Park in Brookfield, VT boasts some unbeatable views, visible from the park's famous fire tower! Visitors to Allis are welcome to climb the tower and see Mt. Killington, Camel's Hump, Mt. Abraham, and New Hampshire's White Mountains. Head up in the next couple of weeks, and the views are sure to be colorful! Allis' Bear Hill Nature Trail is a self-guided .75 mile jaunt. Hikers have the opportunity to spot housing foundations along the way, evidence of the area's agricultural past, as well as a diverse population of trees including butternut, American beech, and white ash.


With over 26,000 acres, Groton State Forest offers a multitude of hikes and other recreational activities. There are seven state parks within close proximity to Groton State Forest and nearly 20 different trails ready and waiting! The Owl's Head Trail, located between New Discovery and Kettle Pond State Parks is a 1.5 mile, moderate hike. The pleasant hour-long hike leads to an iconic view of the Green Mountains, nearby Kettle Pond, and Lake Groton. The view from the top is considered one of the top 5 best views in all of the state parks. Visitors are welcome to access the trail on foot or by car. If you are looking for a longer excursion within the Groton State Forest, consider the Montpelier & Wells River Rail Trail. This 11-mile long trail follows the route of the old Montpelier-Wells River Railroad and is part of the Cross Vermont Trail. This is a great trail to walk or ride your bike. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, including beavers and moose. The rail trail has many spots of entry along Vermont Route 232.


Elmore State Park in Lake Elmore is a 700-acre park with camping, swimming, and hiking opportunities.  Both Lake Elmore and Elmore Mountain, which towers 2,602 feet above the lake, are located within the park. The Elmore Mountain Trail is a moderate, 2.5 mile trek for more experienced hikers - it gets a little rocky close to the summit. About a mile up the trail on the left is the site of a former lookout cabin. Take a break and check out the view before continuing on. This hike leads to another fire tower - a great place to take in sweeping views of the Presidentials in New Hampshire as well as Jay Peak and Mt. Mansfield in Vermont. From the fire tower, visitors can take a short side trip on the Balancing Rock Trail to see (you guessed it!) a precariously balanced boulder resting on a rock. The Mountain Brook Nature Trail is another great Elmore Mountain hike. This relaxing .5 mile trail is perfect for families with young children and a great place to check out the wide variety of plants and flowers. See if you can spot three different species of maple trees along the trail.


Add a description Jamaica State Park stretches between Jamaica and Londonderry in Southern Vermont. The park offers camping, swimming, and outstanding fishing along the West River. Jamaica's West River Trail is a great family-friendly hike along relatively flat terrain. This universally accessible trail is ideal for walking, jogging, or biking.  The trail works its way along the West River and follows the route of the old West River Railroad, continuing on to the Ball Mountain Dam. Visitors should keep their eyes open for "The Dumplings," a series of boulders along the West River. The Hamilton Falls Trail off of the West River Trail leads visitors to Hamilton Falls, a stunning waterfall. This is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch!   

For a full listing of family-friendly hikes, and many other outdoor recreation resources, visit the Hiking page on the Vermont State Parks website.

Plan your state park wedding today!
Thinking of getting hitched next summer? Now is the time to start planning. We are taking reservations 11 months in advance, so give us a call to reserve your choice wedding weekend for next year! When it comes to idyllic settings, magnificent views, and outdoor recreation, Vermont truly takes the (wedding) cake. Vermont State Parks offer a variety of options to meet your wedding needs and are a unique alternative to more traditional locations.
Kingsland Bay State Park

If you're planning an outdoor wedding, Kingsland Bay State Park might be your ideal venue. Nestled on the shores of Lake Champlain in Ferrisburgh, Kingsland Bay is a popular spot for swimmers and boaters, and is a favorite spot for weddings because of its versatile event space and historic and charming grounds. Kingsland Bay is perfect for lakeside ceremonies!


Kingsland Bay's Hawley House, constructed in 1790 and once occupied by Ferrisburgh's first settlers, makes a great dressing area for wedding parties. The Banquet Hall can seat up to 150 people and provides a lovely reception space. The Theatre can seat up to 50 people and can be used for cocktail hour, a children's activity space, or used to exchange vows in case of rain. If you would like to learn more about Kingsland Bay, please check out the Kingsland Bay wedding brochure on the Vermont State Parks wedding page.


Kamp Kill Kare State Park, located on St. Albans Point, is the perfect choice for couples looking to immerse themselves in

Vermont's natural beauty. This peninsula is surrounded on three sides by Lake Champlain. Aside from the unbeatable location, the Rocky Point House, constructed as a lakeside hotel in the 1870s and recently renovated to reflect the look and feel of the original structure, is a great backdrop for your ceremony and reception.


Kamp Kill Kare allows you the flexibility to rent different spaces depending on your wedding needs. The West Function Room, which can seat 22, and the Open-Air Pavilion, which seats 100, are both available to rent. Alternatively, you can rent both and put a wedding tent up on the main lawn, which can accommodate 300 guests.


Ever considered holding your wedding reception in the scenic Champlain Islands? Knight Point State Park in North Hero offers rolling lawns, views of Lake Champlain's boat traffic, and many recreational activities for guests. This park has many unique features, including the largest undisturbed State Natural Area of its kind along the shoreline. The pavilion can be rented out for wedding receptions, seats up to 100 people and offers grills and picnic tables.  Knight Point also provides an on-site wedding tent that can accommodate up to 225 people! Trails and beach access are available to guests. Check out some photos of what Knight Point has to offer!


Learn more about weddings offered at Vermont State Parks!

2014 Reservations


Make your reservations now for next year. We make reservations up to 11 months in advance, so call today to reserve your favorite campsite, cabin, or cottage! 


Give yourself and your family something fun to look forward to!



This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
May your fall be filled with long hikes, Vermont craft beer, and cozy fires. 
Vermont State Parks
Fall in the Parks: A Peaceful Time

Just because fall is inching closer every day doesn't mean you have to prepare to hibernate just yet. Half of Vermont State Parks are fully operational and spending a fall day or night at a state park has unique advantages. The parks are quieter after those meddling kids have gone back to school, allowing you the chance to relax in the peace of your campsite or on the trail.  Less people in the parks means a greater choice of sites and the cooler nights make relaxing by a campfire a real joy, especially without the threat of pesky bugs.

The cool weather is also ideal for hiking and biking. Check out Vermont State Parks' picks for the best parks to bike in. The parks also have a variety of wonderful hiking opportunities, for hikers of all abilities.  Gaze up at the stars on a crisp night or take a walk through the spectacular fall foliage. Also note that fall is a great time to spot birds in their fall migration -- Mt. Philo in Charlotte is a great place to observe the hawk migration


Take a look at the Park Operation Schedule to see which parks are open after Labor Day.


Don't miss the opportunity to take a hike in the parks this fall. Coolidge State Park in Plymouth has amazing views of the Black River Valley and Green Mountains. Gifford Woods State Park in Killington is on the Appalachian Trail and is well-known for its incredible views and fall foliage. Take a trip up Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak (4,393' elevation!) while staying at Underhill and Smugglers' Notch State Parks. The trek up Mt. Philo is a great family hike, and well worth the view of Lake Champlain and awesome autumn colors!



If you would like to spend the night in the park, but don't want to risk the cold, consider one of the cottages available for rent at Branbury, Camp Plymouth, Half Moon, and Ricker Pond State Parks. Cottages have multiple rooms, beds, heat and electricity, and kitchen appliances. Another option is to reserve a cabin, available at Brighton, Button Bay, Gifford Woods, Grand Isle, Half Moon, Little River, Ricker Pond, Woodford and Wilgus State Parks. Cabins are one room dwellings with bunk beds and a futon or sleeper couch. More rustic than cottages, cabins are a great way to stay warm and dry while enjoying the parks. If you want to extend your summer, visit Grand Isle State Park in the Champlain Islands, where the weather stays warmer longer.












If you're looking for a unique lodging experience, check out the Seyon Lodge State Park. Open nearly all year long, the Seyon Lodge is set within the Groton State Forest and offers infinite outdoor recreation opportunities. Enjoy Vermont farm-to-table meals and trout fishing on Noyes Pond or go explore the park on skis or snowshoes. The Lodge includes a cozy common room where guests can relax by the fire. 


If you want to check out some famous Vermont attractions, Little River and Quechee State Parks are great base camps. Little River is located just minutes from the Ben & Jerry's Factory, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and Montpelier, the state capitol. While you're at Quechee State Park, take a trip to the breathtaking Quechee Gorge, the Justin Morrill State Historic Site, or tour the Simon Pearce Glass Blowing Mill and Pottery Shop on Main Street. For craft brew connoisseurs, Elmore State Park is located within a half hour of five different Vermont breweries!

Off-Season Park Use
Park operations will be winding down in the next month, but that doesn't mean you have to stop enjoying them. Fall means perfect hiking weather, quieter parks, and of course, Vermont's famous foliage! You can visit parks for day use year round and off-season camping begins November 1. The rules are a little different, so please take note of the changes. 


If you want to come for a picnic, hike, or paddle, access to the park is free. Remember to park outside of the gate in case it is locked and keep in mind that public restrooms and running water may be unavailable. Hunting is allowed on most state lands in the off-season, so stay alert.


Camping in the off-season is a wonderful chance to experience all of fall's offerings. In order to camp at a state park, please submit a Request for Off-Season Camping form to the park's regional manager a few days in advance of your visit. You may have to walk to your site because access roads might be gated or inaccessible by car. Check out the  Off-Season Access list for more specific information. During the off-season, park staff is around infrequently, so please be our eyes and ears and report anything unusual to


For more information on using the parks in the off season, visit the Off-Season Park Use page on the Vermont State Parks website.  



Alec Jacobson

Alec Jacobson is a resident of Williston, Vermont. His parents imbued him with a love of nature, taking him hiking, biking, and skiing. To see more of Alec's work, visit his National Geographic gallery. Thanks for the great paddling photo at Kill Kare State Park, Alec! 


Olympia Bowker
Olympia Bowker completed an internship with Vermont State Parks as part of her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science at the University of Vermont. Her work on sense of place can be found in her project, Vermont in Winter: The Season of Subtle Splendor. Awesome photo of the view from Mt. Philo, Olympia! 

Matt Parsons
Matt Parsons was born and raised in Northwestern Vermont.  Matt says that he is proud to live in a state that recognizes the importance of its natural resources. Thank you, Matt, for the wonderful paddling photo at Kettle Pond State Park!   


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