|Vermont State Parks
Director of State Parks
Welcome to our Holiday edition
e-newsletter!! Just like your families, we here at Vermont State Parks have created our own collection of holiday traditions. They are festive things that are standing the test of time by bringing holiday fun to lots and lots of people. The first is our annual sale of holiday packages. These easy, affordable gifts are really popular ways to "give the gift of summer"! We change them a little each holiday because we know people like to give them year after year. This year's version is really special. Check them out on our website!
Our other holiday tradition is our series of "First Day Hikes" scheduled at state parks on New Year's Day. A perfect way to start the new year...getting outdoors for a little exercise and fresh air, meeting new people, and checking off those first resolutions! They are free, fun, easy, and probably very close to where you are. Watch our website over the next few weeks to catch the schedule. It's always a great day to get outside and a great way to start the New Year!
See you out there!
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer:
By: Rebecca Phelps, Conservation Education Coordinator
Vermonters like to laugh about Vermont's six seasons. The extra two are mud season and stick season. Mud season comes around when the snow is melting fast and the mud is getting soft, typically after sugaring time and before camping gets into full swing. We are now well into that other extra season, stick season. Stick season refers to the bare deciduous tree branches that stand out nicely against the gray, often rainy November sky. There are many reasons to feel negative about stick season-darker days, cold weather often without snow, and brown leaves all around.
It's easy to feel the fall blues kick in when the calendar page turns to November. For the last several days I've had that Guns n' Roses song, "November Rain" running through my head. Axl Rose is correct; it is really hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain. November rain seems to frequently come in the form of sleet, my least favorite precipitation.
If you feel motivated to turn your stick season attitude around, I have the remedy. There is a large sector of people in the Northeast who look forward to stick season as their favorite time of year. Why would anyone be excited about this time of year? These folks are deer hunters, and you should head outside and spend some time in the woods to improve your opinion of November too. Deer hunters get out into the woods, explore the hills and fields, and hopefully provide a freezer full of local protein for their families.
Deer hunting makes you smile at the beauty of the autumn woods. You see the brown beech leaves rattling around in the understory and you admire how they stand out against the darker brown of maple and oak leaves on the ground. You notice all the small changes that the season brings as you watch Ruffed Grouse flip over leaves looking for insects in the early morning twilight; as you watch red squirrels scurry around harvesting and caching cones; or as you watch hunter's moths flutter around you as the day warms.
If you want to try deer hunting, you should enroll in a hunter education course; information about courses is available on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website. If you want to appreciate the autumn forest in a new way, pack your camera and find a place to sit in the autumn woods for a while. You will be amazed at what you see. Just make sure to wear blaze orange this time of year.
When you get out into the fall woods you can really appreciate stick season, and before you know it, you will not be calling it stick season anymore. Stick season becomes deer season.
If you're curious about which state parks to hunt in, Rebecca suggests Brighton State Park in Island Pond, Mt. Ascutney State Park in Windsor, Woodford State Park in Bennington, Emerald Lake State Park in East Dorset, and Coolidge State Park in Plymouth.
Hit the trails:
Our recommendations for great cross-country skiing this winter
The days are shorter, snow is in the forecast, and cross-country ski season is upon us! Winter adventurers are preparing for another season of getting outside, exploring trails, and having fun. We asked skiers who work for the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation (FPR) about their favorite spots to ski in Vermont and their recommendations of places to visit this winter.
The D&H Rail Trail is an ideal trail for families with children. The D&H trail passes through the towns of Castelton, Poultney, Pawlet, and Rupert, and follows the Washington branch of the original Delaware & Hudson Railroad. The trail can be accessed in Castleton village, downtown Poultney, and in West Pawlet village. In the winter, this multi-use trail is recommended for families because of its relatively gentle terrain. According to Maria Mayer, the Southwest Regional Manager for Vermont State Parks, "the trail is a good place for kids because it's very flat." Maria explained that the trail gets a lot of sun, and is "a good place for birds," with "the possibility of seeing a moose, coyote, or fox." The trail is bordered by farms and woods and has 17 wooden-decked bridges (with railings), the largest spanning 100 feet. Maria suggests stopping in Castleton or Poultney for hot cocoa after your day of skiing.
View the D&H Rail Trail map and description: http://www.vtstateparks.com/pdfs/dhrailtrail.pdf
Maria also recommends Woodford State Park in Bennington. There is a newly cut trail that extends from the Adams parking lot to Route 9 for easier access to the trails. Skiing at Woodford is ideal for families because you can follow the wide park roads. The park surrounds the Adams Reservoir, so stop and take in the view of the water from several spots along the road. Maria cautions skiers to be aware of ice conditions on the roads as well as snowmobiles that also use the trails.
View the Woodford State Park trail map for more information: http://vtstateparks.com/pdfs/woodford.pdf
Jack Brooks, the Northeast Region Trails Coordinator for FPR, provided us with information about cross-country skiing in the vast Groton State Forest. Seyon Lodge State Park in Groton, is open nearly year-round and plays host to many outdoor recreation activities. The park has over five miles of groomed ski trails and is the perfect spot for a winter getaway. Visitors can take several trails from the lodge, ski around Noyes Pond, and connect with the Beaver Pond Loop and newly reopened Snowshoe Trail. Keep in mind that the Snowshoe Trail can be steep in places and is not groomed.
View the Seyon State Park trail map for more information: http://vtstateparks.com/pdfs/seyon_trails.pdf
Susan Bulmer, the Northeast Region Manager for Vermont State Parks, suggests the Telephone Line Multiuse Trail. This trail can be accessed from the northern Rail Trail Connector parking area on Vermont Route 232 (across from New Discovery State Park), at Big Deer State Park, or via the Hosmer Brook or Coldwater Brook trails, which are accessible from the Groton Nature Center. This moderately difficult trail is 2.5 miles long and wide throughout, with only a couple of steeper sections.
We asked Lou Bushey, Stewardship Forester for FPR, about the Bartlett Mountain ski trails at Willoughby State Forest in Sutton, Vermont. The ski trails, referred to as the Short Loop, Middle Loop, and Big Loop, were originally constructed for area high school students to train and race. Therefore, Lou would rate the trails as easy to moderate, though he does point out that the CCC road to the trails is challenging. The three loops are largely flat and Lou anticipates that they will be groomed by the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation about once a week in the winter. Take note of the stunning views from the Willoughby Gap along the way! Visitors can park at the designated parking area on Route 5a and ski the ½ mile up the CCC road to access the trails.
View the Willoughby State Forest X-Country Ski Guide for more information:
View the Memphremagog Ski Touring Foundation website for more information: http://www.mstf.net/
For skiers looking for a cool spot to spend the day, Little River State Park in Waterbury is a great park for winter recreation. Little River has many trails to explore and provides skiers with a unique outdoor experience. This area was home to a settlement of about 50 families during the 19th century. Remains of their community can still be seen from the trails today including old roads, cellar holes, and cemeteries. The Dalley Loop Trail takes skiers around many of the old homesteads and farms. Connect to the Stevenson Loop Trail to extend your trip. You can park outside the park gate and ski up the access road to the park. Keep your eyes open for dogsledders who use Little River for dogsled tours!
View the Little River State Park trail map for more information: http://vtstateparks.com/pdfs/littleriver_area_history.pdf
Extended 2014 Season for Lake Carmi & Niquette Bay
Vermont State Parks is happy to announce that Lake Carmi and Niquette Bay State Parks will be open through Columbus Day 2014 (October 13). The operating season for both parks typically comes to a close on Labor Day, but due to visitor demand, the parks will stay open longer. According to Nate McKeen, Chief of Park Operations, the pattern of beautiful, warm fall weather over the past few years helped Vermont State Parks make the decision to extend the season for both of these parks.
Lake Carmi State Park
in Enosburg Falls has the largest campground of any state park in Vermont with two cabins, including the pet-friendly Cabin A, 35 lean-to sites, and 140 tent/trailer sites. The park is situated on 482 acres of land and is home to the fourth largest natural lake in the state. The park is one of the five best Vermont State Parks for paddling because of its considerable size and great northern pike and walleye fishing. The southern end of the lake has silted and filled with vegetative matter, creating a 140-acre peat bog, the third largest in the state. The bog is populated by black spruce and tamarack trees and has been designated a State Natural Area. The nearby Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, which spans from St. Albans to Richford, Vermont, is a pleasant trail to hike, bike, or snowshoe. The park's proximity to Quebec makes it a favorite camping spot for Canadian visitors.
Niquette Bay State Park in Colchester is one of a handful of state parks located in the scenic Champlain Islands. The park was named for the bay that was formed by an indentation along the northeastern shore of the larger Mallet's Bay. This unique day-use only park is a haven for nature-lovers with scenic vistas overlooking the Green Mountains and the Champlain Islands. There is a shallow, sandy beach along the eastern shoreline and dolomite limestone cliffs along the western shore. The park offers three connected trails, the Ledges, Muhley, and Island View, that connect in a loop and run 3.5 miles in length. This park is a favorite of dog lovers, as dogs are welcome on all trails and allowed off-leash on the Burns, Muhley, and Island View trails. Niquette Bay is located along the Lake Champlain Byway which runs along the northern length of the lake and passes through numerous Vermont towns.
You don't have to wait until the parks open to visit Lake Carmi and Niquette Bay; Lake Carmi is open for off-season camping and both parks are open for day use throughout the winter!
Linda Carlsen-Sperry has been a resident of Vermont for over 30 years. She has had photos published in newspapers and Vermont Life magazine and won "Best of Show" at the 2008 Champlain Valley Fair. Linda looks forward to exploring more of Vermont and its parks. She lives in Essex, VT and loves camping at Ricker Pond. To see more of Linda's work, visit her Flickr page. Thanks for the skiing photo at Grand Isle State Park, Linda!
Justin Lajoie is a native of Vermont. He graduated from LyndonState College in 2006. Justin works for WCAX-TV as an editor and photographer. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the natural wonder and beauty of the Green Mountains. Thanks, Justin, for the photo of the night sky at Groton State Forest!
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks.
Grab your mittens and a mug of hot cocoa, because winter's on its way.
Vermont State Parks
Holiday gift packages now available!
Holiday gift packages are now available from Vermont State Parks! This year our three packages have brand new designs by Vermont artists and include park passes, gift certificates, and state parks gear. They make the perfect gift for the outdoorsy person on your list.
The Day Tripper $39
This package includes a punch card, good for 10 free day visits for an adult or child (does not expire), a gift certificate for a one-hour boat rental, and a Vermont State Parks hat and tote bag.
Weekend Getaway $79
This package includes a gift certificate for two nights of lean-to/tent/RV camping in any state park, a gift certificate for an armload of firewood, two Vermont State Parks water bottles and a tote bag.
Full Season of Family Fun $99 This package includes a vehicle season pass, which entitles the owner to unlimited day use for themselves and up to 8 people per vehicle, two one-hour boat rental gift certificates, a Vermont State Parks tote bag, bumper sticker, and two water bottles.
Holiday packages come gift wrapped and ship free of charge. Check out the Vermont State Parks website for more gift ideas.
You can order holiday gift packages, gift certificates in any denomination, parks passes, and gear online or through our call center at 1-888-409-7579.
Looking back on Venture Vermont 2013
The annual Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge wrapped up last month and we had over 275 entries! The Venture Vermont program is a scavenger hunt designed to encourage individuals and families to get outside, swim, hike, play, observe, and explore nature. Participants earn points for participating in different outdoor activities. When they reach 250 points, they receive a gold VIP medal which earns them free day use at any Vermont State Park for the rest of the current season and the following year.
Everyone who participated did a wonderful job. Thank you for sending your camping stories, nature poems, plant and animal facts, and of course, the awesome photos of your outdoor adventures!
We're already working on next year's program, making it more challenging and better than ever. If you have any ideas or suggestions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for participating!
Two new cabins available at Button Bay State Park
Two new cabins have been built at Button Bay State Park in Vergennes. The new cabins, named Sedge and Sumac, were completed this past summer and are now available to rent for next season. Both cabins have incredible, sweeping views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains.
Button Bay offers over 50 campsites including two other cabins, Orchid and Penstemon, which are universally accessible, constructed with native materials, and offer views of the Lake Champlain. Cabins offer a unique camping opportunity for individuals or families. The one-room units have electricity and include a table and chairs, bunk-beds, futon or sleeper sofa, and a covered front porch. Guests are able to enjoy the outdoors while staying cozy and dry. All cabins come with a picnic table and fire ring, so campers can make dinner and roast marshmallows outside.
Button Bay is a family-friendly park with many opportunities for outdoor fun. The park is situated on over 250 acres of lake-front property so guests can fish or boat on Lake Champlain, or walk to Button Point on the Button Bay Loop Trail. Visitors can take part in interpretive programs at the Button Bay State Park Nature Center located on Button Point. Button Bay is the only state park in Vermont with a swimming pool! The pool, which has a water slide and is shallow throughout, is a fun way to spend an afternoon for kids and adults alike.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of the area, The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is only five minutes from the park and its historical exhibits, workshops, and art tell the story of Lake Champlain's rich maritime history. The Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont, gives visitors the chance to tour the historical grounds and visit the unique gallery and exhibition spaces. You can also make the trip to one of the many other state parks close by. Mt. Philo State Park in Charlotte is a great spot for family hikes, with tremendous views of the Champlain Valley, and Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh is an ideal place to swim and relax.
Cabins are popular, so make your reservations for next summer now by booking online
or calling our reservation line at
Calling all performers!
We are seeking park performers for our 2014 season!
If you are a musician, storyteller, birder, crafter, or have another talent that you would like to share with us, let us know!