Vermont State Parks e-newsletter                                       April 2014

Hello Everyone!


Craig Whipple,
Director of State Parks 


Greetings Everyone!

Ah, spring in Vermont! It's a great time to get outdoors in the woods and look around. Before the leaves sprout, you can see all kinds of features of the forest that are otherwise obscured from view. Just be sure to stay on the dry, lower elevation trails until things dry out a bit more.

Exploring state parks this time of year is always fun and interesting particularly with the benefit of the information Rebecca gives us in this newsletter! Even the most avid winter-lovers among us rejoice with the warmer weather, bright sunshine and all sorts of life that emerges from the ground that has until only recently been covered with snow. So, get out there and enjoy all that spring in Vermont has to offer!



Craig Whipple

Director, Vermont State Parks


The Outdoor Observer
By: Rebecca Phelps
Hepatica. Photo by Lisa Liotta
What is happening in the forests and fields of Vermont while we rake away the leaves and other debris of winter off our lawns and out of our gardens? You have already seen crocuses pop their violet, white and yellow tops out of the soil where you thought you would never see life again. Even the hardy daffodils have emerged from a spot where there was nothing but dried, brown grass and piles of old leaves.  Spring is appearing all across the Vermont landscape, and it is the most exciting time for outdoor observing. 


While your garden flowers are starting to poke their heads out of the cold ground, the same thing is happening in the forests of Vermont.  Do you remember walking along the river in Jamaica State Park or hiking up to the fire tower in Elmore State Park last summer? You probably enjoyed a nice shady hike under a canopy of green trees. When you head out the door today, instead of shady leaves, all you will see above your head are tree buds swelling up nice and big-with every tree getting ready to bust out with new spring leaves and flowers.


Conditions are perfect for forest wildflowers because it is the only time of year when sunlight reaches the forest floor and temperatures are nice and mild. Early spring wildflowers are taking the opportunity to have their moment in the sun. These jewels of the early spring forest are everywhere, and you will see them if you know where and what to look for.



When you walk through the spring forest, look down along the forest floor for the yellow drooping lily flowers of the trout lily.The green leaves, speckled with brown like trout, carpet the forest floor this time of year in Coolidge State Park.



One of the greatest treats in looking for wildflowers is to find a native poppy plant. What can this possibly be? The blood root flower, a small white flower with a yellow center (kind of like a big, low to the ground daisy), with a unique curled leaf can be found in moist forest edges. Look for these below a row of sugar maple trees next to a road. If you are having trouble finding these, they have been spotted in Branbury State Park


Watch the ground in front of your feet to keep an eye out for the tiny spring beauties. These flowers are pink with lines of darker pink and seem to pop right out of rocks before your eyes.You can see them in moist soils and along trails and roads in Underhill State Park.


Look carefully for the rare native orchid, the pink lady slipper, under oak and pine trees in moist woods. Lady slippers are a treat to find-look for the two large green leaves on either side of the stem, and the pouched pink orchid flower hanging in the center. These have been spotted in Brighton State Park.    


Watch for the deep burgundy petals of the red trillium in the rich soils in Gifford Woods State Park. Later in the summer, this three leaved plants will have a red berry-like fruit where red flowers can be found today. 


Conditions are perfect in the forests of Vermont for these beautiful

wildflowers. Take a closer look at the woods near your own home, and then watch for these flowers in State Parks during your next visit. Look carefully and you will find these beautiful and temporary signs of spring.  

Mud Season Hiking


  The snow has melted and the sun is starting the shine which means two things in Vermont: 1) it's finally spring and 2) it's mud season. Hiking trails take a serious hit during this time of year, especially those at higher altitudes that are exposed to heavy spring rain and snow melt. When walkers trek over muddy trails, it can lead to soil compaction and erosion, damaging the trail and keeping it muddy longer. Help to preserve the trails this spring by sticking to recreation paths, dirt roads, and trails at lower elevations.


Mud Season Hiking Guidelines: 

  • If a trail is so muddy that you need to walk on the vegetation beside it, turn back and find another place to hike.
  • Plan spring hikes in hardwood forests at lower elevations.
  • Avoid spruce-fir (conifer) forest at higher elevations and on north slopes before late May and from the end of October until frozen or snow covered.
  • Camels Hump and Mt Mansfield trails are closed from snow melt (now) until late May. Please do not hike here. Stay below 3000 feet during these times of year.


Some recommended places to hike this spring are: Mt. Ascutney State Park, Jamaica State Park, Button Bay State Park, Woodford State Park, Burlington Bike Path, Mount Philo State Park, The Cross Vermont Trail, and the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail


For a full list of suggested hiking trails, visit the Vermont State Parks blog at:


For more information about mud season hiking, visit the Green Mountain Club's website at:

Birding in Vermont State Parks   

By: Rebecca Phelps 



Birds are flocking back to Vermont with the warmer spring weather and the abundance of spring food sources. Grab your binoculars and head out to the nearest state park to spot some vibrantly colored feathered friends and admire the changing seasons.To see a diversity of birds, you will need to visit an area with a diversity of habitats. Great places to go birding include forested areas, grassy field areas, and edges in between with high grasses and shrubs. You can also see a large number of ducks and other birds that live on and near water by visiting a lake or river. Different bird species use these different habitat areas. Here are a few state parks that are good for birding and a short list of species you can see in these places. Get out and explore any state park and you will quickly accumulate a long list of interesting birds.


Almost all of the following birds have already been spotted this spring in Vermont State Parks:


Silver Lake State Park, Barnard, Vermont
  • Bald Eagle
  • Common Loon
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Winter Wren
  • Black Throated Green Warbler
  • White Throated Sparrow

Emerald Lake, East Dorset, Vermont

  • Wood Duck
  • Brown Creeper
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Yellow Warbler
  • Palm Warbler
  • Song Sparrow  

BranburyBrandon, Vermont

  • Common Loon
  • Peregrine Falcon
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Tree Swallow
  • Eastern Bluebird
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler

Kingsland BayFerrisburgh, Vermont

  • Purple Martin
  • Tree Swallow
  • Purple Finch
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler
  • Field Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow

Grand IsleGrand Isle, Vermont

  • Green Winged Teal
  • Ring Necked Duck
  • American Widgeon
  • Buffle Head
  • Bald Eagle
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Greater and Lesser Scaup

Sand Bar State ParkMilton, Vermont

  • Green Winged Teal
  • Common Loon
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Osprey (nesting right now on telephone poles!)

Brighton State ParkIsland Pond, Vermont

  • Spruce GrouseYellow-Bellied Sapsucker
  • Northern Flicker
  • Gray Jay
  • Boreal Chickadee
  • Pine Warbler

Many birds haven't migrated back yet, so keep your eyes open for more avian visitors in the coming weeks! 

Weddings at Vermont State Parks

Are you looking for a unique location for your upcoming wedding? Vermont State Parks has several wedding options for your big day.  We are booking 11 months in advance so give us a call to reserve your ideal wedding weekend! No matter where you are in the state, you are never more than thirty minutes from a Vermont State Park. The parks are located in beautiful settings, offer many outdoor recreation opportunities, and are a less expensive alternative to more traditional wedding venues.


Knight Point State Park in North Hero, Vermont is the perfect place to become immersed in nature! The park, located in the Champlain Islands, has 54-acres of expansive lawns, meadow, forests, and swimming areas with incredible views of Lake Champlain. Knight Point offers an on-site wedding tent for receptions that can accommodate up to 225 guests. The park's pavilion can also be rented out; it seats up to 100 people and includes grills and picnic tables. Access to the park's hiking trails and swimming beaches are available to all guests.


Kamp Kill Kare State Park on St. Albans Point is another great option for your wedding day. The park is located on a peninsula, surrounded by Lake Champlain. The Rocky Point House originally constructed as a lakeside hotel in the 19th century, was recently renovated and restored to its original look and can be rented out for weddings. Parties have the option of renting the West Function Room, which can seat 22 people, the open-air pavilion, which can seat 100, or renting both and setting up a wedding tent on the lawn to accommodate up to 300 guests.


When planning your wedding, there are many Vermont State Parks to choose from! Take a look at our wedding page or give us a call at

1888-409-7579 to learn more.

Park Passes Make Wonderful Gifts 
Vermont State Parks passes are a wonderful and inexpensive way to enjoy the parks all season long! Individual passes are $25 per person and are good for day-use at any Vermont State Park for the entire season. Punch cards cost $20, and provide 10 day-use entries for an adult or child, and best of all, they never expire! Vehicle passes are good for the entire season, and entitle the owner to unlimited day use for themselves and up to eight people in their vehicle.   

Park passes make great gifts for graduation, Mother's Day, Father's Day, or any outdoorsy person in your life. To order a pass visit our website or call 1888-409-7570.

Calling Park 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! 




The Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge 
is back!
The 2014 Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge kicked off this month on Tuesday, April 15! Every year, families from all over Vermont participate in the outdoor scavenger hunt,  earning points while taking part in fun and exciting outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, fishing, identifying plant and animal species, and more. Last year, there were over 275 participants who played in the parks, got outside, and discovered new things about Vermont's natural landscape.
Venture Vermont is all new this year and more challenging than ever!  Participants are challenged to learn new paddle strokes, practice flint knapping, identify rocks, track animals, and build their own camping supplies out of found materials!

Join in the fun; download a scorecard from our website and check off different activities as you complete them. Remember to take photos of yourself doing all of the activities.  When you reach 250 points, you are eligible to receive a VIP token and free day use in the parks for the rest of the current season and the following year.


Vermont Days 2014


Vermont Days will be held June 14 and 15 this year! Day-use is free at all State Parks so come and hike, picnic, swim, play, and relax all weekend. Swing by Waterbury Center State Park on Sunday from 2:00-4:00pm to enjoy the music of the Green Mountain Brass Band!


Other Vermont Days activities include free fishing in every body of water in Vermont,  the Grand Isle Fishing Festival on Saturday, June 14, free entry to Vermont historic sites, and free admission to the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier!


For more information about Vermont Days' activities and events, visit:


Name this  
Vermont State Park! 
Can you identify which park this photo was taken in? Send your guesses to
The first person to correctly name the park will receive a Vermont State Parks punch pass, good for ten day-use visits to any Vermont State Park.

Camping Resources: 

Park Itineraries 




Summer is just around the corner and now is the time to start planning your next camping trip. No matter which state park you visit, there are lots of opportunities to see and explore new trails, beaches, natural features of the parks, and local attractions. 

Vermont State Parks has put together several resources, available on the Tips & Tricks section of our website, to help you plan your perfect camping weekend. Park itineraries provide some ideas for how to plan your days in and around the park. The itinerary for a weekend trip to Little River State Park 
in Waterbury, Vermont has different types of activities ranging from hiking the park's Nature Trail and swimming in the Waterbury Reservoir to visiting the nearby Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. 


Plan Your Weekend at  Little River State Park:




Walk down to the campers' beach, explore the park 
(1 hour) 

Hunt for the Paddle Paddle Letterbox 
(1-2 hours)  Letterboxing is a scavenger hunt where you follow clues to find a hidden box that contains something fun to learn, a stamp to use that proves you found the box and a log to record your find. It's super fun and easy and is a blast for both kids and adults.


Attend an Interpretive Program (1 hour)

A wide variety of programs are offered at Little River: stream critters, history hikes, birding by ear, guided canoe and kayak trips, nature crafts and more. Check in with the park office or our Events page for a complete schedule.


Lunch in camp

Spend the afternoon at Waterbury Reservoir (3 hours)
Pack up the beach gear and some snacks and head out to nearby 
Waterbury Center State Park. Here you will find a kid-friendly beach with great swimming. You can also rent canoes, kayaks or even stand-up paddleboards. Take a hike on the nature trail, fish or just relax on the big grassy lawn.



Back to Camp. Dinner, campfire, s'mores, play in campground.




 Breakfast in camp 


Hike the Nature Trail (0.5 miles/1 hour)  This trail packs a lot of variety in a short amount of time. Park at the History Hike trailhead located in the "B" camping area and follow signs to nature trail. Traverse woods and streamside habitat. Look for wildflowers, boulders, ferns and wildlife.   

Break camp, pack lunches to go, check out of park


Visit Waterbury Flea Market (1 hour)   You never know what treasures you might find at the Waterbury Flea Market. Open Sundays 9:00am - 3:00pm. Free admission.


Take the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory Tour (1 hour) Just minutes away, you can't visit Little River State Park without at least one trip to Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory. Take a factory tour and see how ice cream is made, enjoy free samples, the flavor graveyard and the scoop shot. 


Visit Stowe Farmers Market & Lunch
Each Sunday Stowe hosts a great Farmers' Market on "The Mountain Road," VT Route 108. Here you can sample and purchase a variety of Vermont fruits, vegetables, foods and flowers. There are also hot food vendors, demonstrations and weekly performances.


Head home



Check out our website for more weekend itineraries, camping checklists and instruction sheets, camp menus and recipes, and how-to videos.


What's Your Favorite Vermont State Park?

Vermont State Park visitors share their experiences



I first discovered Brighton State Park back in 1989. I was amazed to find such a homey comfortable park that offers everything while retaining it's quiet and solitude. Since then, I have been a yearly visitor. I never get tired of the lakeshore hike and looking at the tall trees. I always find little areas that I've not noticed before and before you know it, I've spent several minutes just looking and imagining the little creatures that call that spot home. As I walk, I feel energy and peaceful feelings replenishing my reserves. It feels good!



Brighton State Park is, to me, a powerful reminder that we simply must preserve nature. That we simply must set aside space and allow nature to rule as king. Thus, we create a magic space where the body and the spirit can become rejuvenated and healthy. Will I be back this year? You bet!!!


Saint-Jean-sur Richelieu,Quebec  


Do you have a story to share? Send your favorite state park memories and stories to 


Thanks to our Photo Interns!
Matt Parsons
Matt Parsons was born and raised in Northwestern Vermont. Matt says that he is proud to live in a state that recognizes that importance of its natural resources. Thank you, Matt, for the awesome picnicking photo at Waterbury Center State Park!
Sara Hayes
Sara Hayes describes herself as an ambitious, strong, independent female who has always had an interest in the arts. She has spent the past seventeen years employed as a cosmetologist. She always looks forward to the summers in Vermont because there is so much more activity to try to capture with her camera. Thanks for the beautiful photograph of lilacs, Sara!

Quick Links 

Vermont State Parks

Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge

Button Bay State Park

Branbury State Park

Brighton State Park

Coolidge State Park

Gifford Woods State Park

Grand Isle State Park

Jamaica State Park

Kamp Kill Kare

Kingsland Bay State Park

Knight Point State Park

Mt. Philo State Park

Silver Lake State Park

Underhill State Park

Waterbury Center State Park

Vermont Days

Vermont History Museum

Green Mountain Club

Camping Tips & Tricks

Off Season Park Use




Cabins & Cottages

Vermont State Parks Merchandise

VT State Parks Blog



General Info

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This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
Head outside, bask in the sun, and come visit us at the parks!
Vermont State Parks 

Vermont State Parks | 888-409-7579 | 
 1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
 Montpelier, VT 05620