Vermont State Parks e-newsletter                                                 February 2015
Button Bay State Park. Photo by Lene Gary.


Greetings Everyone!


Well, here we are in the midst of what people are calling a "good old fashioned Vermont winter"...lots of snow, lots of cold and lots of firewood being gobbled up by the wood stove. The skiing and snowshoeing are nothing short of phenomenal! And our state parks are the perfect places to go for that mid-winter outdoor adventure. 


Just the other day, I snowshoed to Osmore Pond in the Groton State Forest with Vermont Vermont writer Susan Shea who is preparing an article for Northern Woodlands Magazine about the Civilian Conservation Corps influence on state parks. She referred to the area as a "winter wonderland" as we walked around some of the marvelous structures built by the CCC in the 1930's still in use today. I know, I know...I have a great job! 


But, even in the middle of winter, we here at Vermont State Parks know spring is just around the corner. There is a happy sense of urgency as we go about all the planning and organizing it takes to get ready for your visits this summer. Our maintenance staff are busy upgrading some of our structures for you and, of course our supervisors are all pouring through applications and conducting interviews of potential employees. There is a lot of pressure to find just the right people to  carry on our tradition of the highest quality service. Rest assured, things are coming together quite nicely and we will be ready! In the meantime...see you out there!    


Craig Whipple

Director, Vermont State Parks

The Outdoor Observer
By: Rebecca Phelps 

Recently I was running along a snowy trail in Little River State Park. It was one of those classic Vermont winter days-bright sunlight, sparkling snow and super cold. The woods were very quiet, all I heard was the popping of trees in the subzero temperatures. So I was surprised to turn a corner and stumble upon a flock of wild turkeys making their way across the landscape in front of me.

Wild turkeys are very large birds that travel in flocks, appearing like ancient creatures bent over foraging for seeds on winter weeds. I stopped to watch them with my breath in a frosty cloud around my head. The turkeys moved slowly and silently, picking and pecking away, searching for food in a landscape appearing barren but full of nourishment for wild winter residents.


While I watched, the turkeys were walking slowly together but they can also run really fast, up to 25 miles per hour on those seemingly skinny legs. If you ever startle a turkey out of a tree perch, you get the surprise of a lifetime: loud flapping and incomprehensible agility and flight from large- bodied birds. They can fly up to 35 miles per hour.

It's fun to look for signs of life in the winter woods of Vermont when it feels too cold for anything to be alive out there. On the coldest days it's more challenging to find activity, sometimes all you see are animal tracks. Fresh snow is the perfect place to look for signs of animals.


On these cold Vermont winter days, look for animal activity on south facing slopes, where it tends to be slightly warmer even when the temperatures are frigid. Also look in places protected from the wind-such as small valleys nestled in the woods. These are the places where animals are active on cold days, and they are more comfortable places for us to explore, as well.

You are likely to find white tailed deer tracks, turkey tracks and squirrel tracks, even on the coldest days. The inhabitants of the winter woods need to actively search for food to keep their bodies warm on cold days and nights. Walking in these slightly warmer spaces, you can find sprays of leaves over the snow from deer digging succulent ferns or you can see piles of cones chewed apart by red squirrels. Look for the large bird tracks left by turkeys. If you are lucky, you may even spot snowshoe hare or bobcat tracks in the fresh snow.


Feel the comradery of animals in the winter world by getting out into these cold sunny days. Some of the best places for winter exploration are Underhill State Park, Groton State Forest, Allis State Park and Woodford State Park. No matter where you are, if you get out into the cold air it will make that mug of hot tea that much more delicious. 

Announcing Renovations at
Maidstone State Park


Maidstone State Park in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is considered the most remote park in the state. Maidstone was designated as a state park in 1938 and was used as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp. Many of the park's structures, including the picnic shelter, fireplaces, and the park lodge were constructed by members of the CCC over 70 years ago and are still in use today. Maidstone Lake is home to a population of nesting loons whose yodeling calls are heard over the water. Rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, and lake trout also inhabit this lake. The seclusion that the park offers combined with its historic charm imbues Maidstone with a rustic character, one that attracts visitors who are seeking a more peaceful outdoor experience.

Though the park is well loved in its current state, no renovations have taken place since the 1970s. This affords State Parks the opportunity to create an overall vision for this Northeast kingdom gem which will meet the needs of current and future Maidstone campers, provide comfortable accommodations, and grow and diversify the park's facilities by making targeted investments which will return the biggest reward to the visitor. The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (FPR) has created a Park Master Plan that outlines some proposed changes and renovations to the park. FPR has partnered with SE Group and Northern Architects, both of Burlington along with discussion with the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation to create the plan which was released for public comment in January of this year. FPR will be balancing our vision for Maidstone with input from visitors and community members who know and enjoy the park.  

According to the Park Master Plan, the aim of the project is "to rebuild and sustain the recreational traditions at Maidstone in today's culture of recreation and leisure." The overall objectives are to "celebrate the historic character of the Park, balance relevant natural resources and the visitor experience, promote greater park utilization, [and] improve Park maintenance and operations."

Specific suggested improvements outlined in the 

Park Master Plan:

  • Redesign of day use area to promote a more comfortable experience for day visitors and campers.
  • Renovated toilet buildings throughout.
  • An inclusive recreational opportunity with accessibility improvements in all areas.
  • New and increased numbers of showers in the Campground
  • Visitor-friendly park entrances and improved pedestrian and vehicle flow.
  • Remove park staff housing from park entrance and reconfiguration of visitor check-in including improved retail sales flow (firewood, boat rental, essential camp items)
  • Increased sheltered camping opportunities (cabins and lean-to)
  • Provide sites more suitable for RVs that will accommodate short term RV visits while maintaining the character of the park.
  • Removal of maintenance activity and garbage / recycling away from visitors
  • Areas for indoor/outdoor nature programs and community gathering
  • New play areas or opportunities for campground and day use area
  • Upgrade electrical, water, and sewer systems
  • Improve Roadway, sites and storm water management throughout the Park

FPR is asking for public feedback on the design until February 20, 2015. FPR, along with our partners, will then consider that feedback, identify project priorities, create a strategy to implement changes, and create a timeline for the renovations with respect to timing, cost, and construction. 

View the Park Master Plan:

View and complete the Park Master Plan Public Information Survey:

Extended Season at Three
State Parks! 

Though it may be hard to believe as you gaze out the window at the snow and ice, both spring and the 2015 parks season are just around the corner! Vermont State Parks is pleased to announce that Lake Carmi, Niquette Bay, and Waterbury Center State Parks will be open for extended seasons this year. Visitor demand and continued use drove the decision to open parks earlier and close them later in 2015.


Operating Dates for 2015:

Niquette Bay: Saturday, May 9-Monday, October 12, 2015
Lake Carmi: Friday, May 15-Monday, October 12, 2015
Waterbury Ctr: Friday, May 22-Monday, October 12, 2015


Every year, Lake Carmi, Niquette Bay, and Waterbury Center State Parks welcome thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the natural beauty and fun activities found inside the park gates. Lake Carmi State Park is the largest campground in the state and one of the most popular. Excellent camping, swimming, paddling, and walleye and great northern pike fishing draw campers to the park. Niquette Bay in Colchester is one of a handful of parks located in the gorgeous Champlain Islands. Visitors enjoy stunning views of Lake Champlain and surrounding Mallet's Bay as well as superb hiking on the looped trail system in a scenic and peaceful setting.  Waterbury Center State Park, which is situated along the Waterbury Reservoir, is filled with individuals and families who come to take advantage of the awesome swimming beach, picnic area, and paddling opportunities at the park.

View the full 2015 Operating Schedule

Thanks to our Photo Interns!

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 EnglandVermont Nature, and The Bridge. When she's not writing, she can be found paddling her well-worn Mad River canoe. Thanks to Lené for the beautiful cover photo of Button Bay State Park.

Eric Montgomery's passions for food and wildlife have guided him back to school at the Community College of Vermont, where he is studying to become a forester. He believes that beauty is all around us and, with the right kind of eyes, even the rainiest days can provide the photo of a lifetime. Thank you, Eric, for the photo of the brown dog.

Isadora Marks was born in the countryside of Vermont. She currently attends UVM, where she is studying Environmental Studies and Studio Art. She loves being in nature and admires and produces art of all kinds, including photography, printmaking, graphic design, and mixed media. Thanks to Isadora for the photo of the hiker at Gifford Woods State Park.

Celebrating the 2014 Photography Interns
Photo by Eric Montgomery
Every summer our photography and videography interns set out to capture the unique beauty and spirit of Vermont State Parks! The talented crop of 2014 photo interns did a phenomenal job of documenting all of the fun of a summer in Vermont. See some of their great work here:

Photo by Isadora Marks

Our photography internship program offers a unique opportunity to play in the parks and express yourself artistically at the same time. Perks include free camping, parks passes, merchandise, and online promotion of your work.

To learn more about how to become a photography intern, visit:  

Winter 2015 Snowshoe Guide
By: Jenny Montagne

During a chilly winter like the one we're experiencing, it can be tempting to curl up inside next to a fire and hibernate until spring. Resist the urge! Winter is an awesome time to go and explore your favorite lakes, trails, and state parks. Peaceful and transformed by the snow, it's like a whole new world out there.  If you are looking for a relaxing way to get outside this winter, consider snowshoeing!


The sport is regarded as one of the most popular and accessible winter activities in snowbound regions: Minimal gear is required, there is a quick learning curve, and it's a relatively safe, family-friendly way to explore the back country. With so many snow-covered trails and frozen lakes, Vermont is the ideal environment to take your snowshoes out for a spin. Where should you go? Take a look at our suggestions for great snowshoeing locales around Vermont State Parks and see for yourself why people love this sport:

Niquette Bay State Park, Colchester
Niquette Bay State Parkwhich comprises part of Mallets Bay on the northeastern shore of Lake Champlain, is one of the most unique and beloved parks in the state. With incredible views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding Green Mountains, the parks draws visitors all year long to hike the trails and become immersed in nature. The park's extensive trail system offers countless recreational opportunities for visitors all year long and the variety of trails makes this a great park for beginning and intermediate snowshoers alike.

"Niquette Bay offers visitors a great winter experience," says Niquette Ranger Lisa Liotta. "The Muhley and Island Loop Trails offer stunning vistas of Lake Champlain, Mt. Mansfield and the Adirondacks.  The Ledges Trail, which climbs to the ridgeline then descends to Lake Champlain, presents a frozen view of Malletts Bay. The Allen Trail is the easiest route to the Lake; one-half mile on flat terrain with a descent as the trail approaches the lake."

Little River State Park, Waterbury
Little River State Park is located in Waterbury, Vermont's "Recreational Crossroads," so it's no surprise that this park is extremely popular among campers, hikers, skiers, dogsledders, and nature lovers of all types. During the 19th and earth 20th
centuries, the park was home to a community of settlers who lived and farmed the land that the park now encompasses. This rich history combined with an extensive trail system make snowshoeing at Little River a unique outdoor experience.

Snowshoers visiting Little River have a variety of trails to choose from; the Stevenson Brook Trail is a one mile long loop that is easily accessible from the park office. The moderate trail passes beneath a grove of hemlocks and weaves alongside the Stevenson Brook in an uphill slope. To add some length to your trip, you can connect with either the Sawmill Loop Trail or the Dalley Loop Trail. At 2.8 miles, the Dalley Loop is ideal if you are planning a longer day of snowshoeing. This trail follows an old town road past many of the area's former settlements and many old foundations and cellar holes are still visible. At 1.3 miles, stay right and continue on level ground until you reach the Hedgehog Loop trail where the trail becomes steeper.

Gifford Woods State Park, Killington
For a quintessential Vermont winter experience, visit
Gifford Woods State Park in Killington for a day of snowshoeing! Set at the base of Killington and Pico mountains and comprising part of the Coolidge Range that includes the Killington, Mendon, and Shrewsbury high peaks, this park is a popular winter recreation destination for cross country skiers and snowshoers. There is great snowshoeing to be found on the wide, gentle terrain park roads.  Alternately, you can access the Kent Brook Trail in the park for an hour long, easy to moderate loop around the campground.

Woodford State Park, Bennington
Woodford State Park is a southern Vermont park located on a mountain plateau overlooking the Adams Reservoir. At 2400 ft., Woodford is the highest elevation park in Vermont and is bordered by the Green Mountain National ForestEvery winter, Woodford welcomes a host of snowshoers who flock to the park because of the unbeatable scenery and tremendous opportunities to view wildlife like deer, moose, and beaver.

While at the park, visitors have the choice to explore either the Atwood or Woodford Trails. The Atwood Trail is a quick, .5 mile loop beginning at the parking area and continuing along the shore of the Reservoir. For a longer snowshoe, head out on the Woodford Trail, a 2.7 mile easy to moderate hike through the forest and around the water. This wooded forest trail takes you under a snowy tree canopy before meandering toward the shoreline of the water.  For a shorter trip, connect with the park road on the southwestern end of the reservoir.

Bring some hot cocoa to stay warm during the day or build a fire and toast some marshmallows for some mid-trip fun! The best part of snowshoeing is that you can do it nearly anywhere there is snow. Use our suggestions or find your own favorite trail, snow-covered hill, field, or mountainside. No matter where you go, you will find that snow shoeing is a great way to get some exercise and gain a new appreciation for the beauty of this season. 

When planning your trip, keep in mind that Vermont's winter weather is highly variable and trail conditions may be icy. Be cautious, dress warmly, and come prepared with water and snacks for your outing. 

Help Wanted!

Vermont State Parks are some of the most beautiful places in the state to picnic, swim, hike, and camp, so it's no surprise that they're also great places to work.

We are now hiring for several positions for the 2015 season including rangers, attendants, trail crew members, and park interpreters at parks across Vermont.

To learn more about available positions and apply, visit our Employment page

Quick Links

Vermont State Parks

Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge

Allis State Park

Coolidge State Park

Gifford Woods State Park

Lake Carmi State Park

Maidstone State Park 

Niquette Bay State Park

Underhill State Park
Waterbury Center State Park 

Woodford State Park

Photography Internships
Camping Tips & Tricks

Off Season Park Use




Cabins & Cottages

Vermont State Parks Merchandise

Vermont State Parks Blog



General Info

Photo by Lee Krohn.
This is the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks
May your winter be filled with an abundance of snowy days, fresh tracks, and hot cocoa!
Vermont State Parks 

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