Vermont State Parks e-Newsletter                                    November 2015

Greetings Everyone!
Whew! A million visitors in one year has only happened 4 other times in our 91 year history. People are really loving their state parks here in Vermont. And we are stepping up in response to that increasing activity. Investments are being made in our structures and facilities all over the system. Granted, some of it isn't all that glamorous like water and sewer system upgrades and the new electrical line to Burton Island but it's all pretty important none the less. Be sure to check out the brand new beach and bath house at Bomoseen State Park next summer. We are also stepping up our recruitment and training for our staff so we can continue the reputation for outstanding customer service that is so important to our visitors.
In the meantime, get out and enjoy your parks whenever you can. They are always there for you to explore and enjoy, year-round.

See you out there!   

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks
The Outdoor Observer

Quill Pigs
By Rebecca Roy

I've been seeing lots of porcupines in the woods lately. I frequently run trails in evenings, and those bright evening runs of summer are now nocturnal adventures by headlamp. My evening visits to Little River State Park and Groton State Forest are overlapping with porcupine activity more and more. 

Porcupines don't vanish out of view quickly like coyotes or other nocturnal animals. I frequently see them because they are not in a hurry to get away from me, they waddle along very slowly. Their defense is not speed or agility, but the prickly quills garnishing their backsides. If you have experienced a curious dog and a close porcupine encounter, you already know why I sweep the trail ahead of me carefully with a bright headlamp during dark runs in porcupine territory. I don't want to find out how it feels to take a shin full of barbed porcupine quills.
There is one porcupine I have been seeing regularly on my favorite trail loop. The very first encounter resulted in the porcupine quickly scurrying up a tree, and me snapping photos of it as it tried to get high above my head. A few evenings later, I came upon this same porcupine. When it saw my bright light, it wedged itself between two large sugar maples, with its quill covered behind facing me. It's pretty amazing to see the adaptations animals have for self-preservation. 

Speaking of self-preservation, this is an especially interesting time of year for porcupines, it is mating season. This is the one time of year you can hear the animals vocalize. In the darkness they make loud grunts, cries, and squeaks. It can be pretty spooky to hear their noises drift over the dark woods, until you make out the large lump of an arboreal porcupine and discover where the mysterious noise is coming from. The large rodents mate this time of year, and single baby porcupines are born in May or June. 

In summer porcupines eat leaves, twigs, and plants such as skunk cabbage and clover. In winter months, they chew through thick bark on trees and eat the cambium layer of the bark. Cambium is a layer under tree bark, the living part of a winter tree, the portion of the tree that creates all new growth. Cambium is nutrient rich and is a concentrated food source during a time of year when there is not much available food for vegetarians like porcupines. They prefer to feed on pine, fir, cedar, and hemlock trees. Look for large irregular patches of bark stripped from tree trunks with lots of rodent tooth marks.

Porcupines also seek out salt, which can be detrimental to your tools or outhouses. Put away that rake or axe-if you leave them out, they could become a porcupine snack. Salt from human perspiration is absorbed into wooden tool handles, and porcupines seek that out to eat. Outhouses have also been known to become victims of hungry porcupines. 

With other animals being less active, this is a great time of year to watch for signs of porcupines on your next walk in the woods. Watch for large lumps high in trees-porcupines often spend the day sleeping high in trees. Or look for their underground dens-they will also sleep underground or in a tree hollow during the day. Look for signs of their feeding on tree cambium. You know you are on a porcupine trail when you find shed quills or some of their feces on the ground.

Look for these fascinating animals on your next trip-in darkness or daylight, in your favorite state park. This time of year, you should head to patches of evergreens to see porcupines or their sign. Some great parks to look for them are Allis, Woodford, Lake Carmi, and Maidstone State Parks.

Meet Vermont's Newest State Park: 
Molly's Falls Pond State Park
From News Release: 
News Release - Vermont Land Trust
October 29, 2015

CABOT and MARSHFIELD, VT - The people of Vermont will now forever have access to one of the state's most popular and well-loved recreation areas in Central Vermont-the Molly's Falls Pond property, known by many as the "Marshfield Reservoir". The Vermont Land Trust today announced the sale of 1,029 acres to the Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. Now called Molly's Falls Pond State Park, the property boasts a 402-acre reservoir, roughly 35,000 feet of undeveloped shoreline, and over 600 acres of forestland. It is a popular spot for boaters and anglers and has a fishing access area and wheelchair-accessible fishing platforms managed by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The Department purchased the property from the Vermont Land Trust with funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program, which protects environmentally important forestland properties that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. In Vermont this program has helped to permanently conserve over 67,000 acres of forestland.

The Vermont Land Trust purchased the property from Green Mountain Power in 2012 so that the State could eventually acquire the land. Green Mountain Power retained 23 acres that includes the dam, buildings for the hydropower facility and spillways on the reservoir.
"We were extremely fortunate that the Vermont Land Trust was able to acquire the property from Green Mountain Power when they did and were willing to hold onto it until the state was able to secure necessary funding," said Michael Snyder, Commissioner of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.

Molly's Falls Pond State Park is now part of a vast assemblage of state conservation and recreation lands including Groton State Forest. "Connecting people with the outdoors is so important to our physical and mental well-being," said Gil Livingston, VLT President. "And the surrounding healthy forest is part of a larger 30,000-acre block of conserved forestland critical to wildlife movement in the region. Vermonters and visitors alike will enjoy this spectacular place for generations to come."
Mellow Thanksgiving Day Hikes:
Lakeside Loops

Either way you do it: Whether you want to work off some calories after a large and satisfying Thanksgiving Day meal, or you want to work up an appetite for the feast to come, here are some easy rambles that are great for the whole family. 

Each of these hikes are loop trails that circumnavigate ponds or small lakes. With the leaves off the trees you can see farther into the woods than in the summer time, and wildlife love the edge habitat the ponds create. Combine great wildlife viewing with little or no elevation change -- you've got yourself the perfect apres-meal adventure.

Groton State Forest
Peachman, Vermont
2 miles, 2 hours. Effort Rating: Easy. This scenic loop begins at the Osmore Pond picnic shelter. The trail veers south, away from the pond's edge. It passes under a power line just before the junction with the Little Deer Trail (0.6 miles). Continuing around the pond, the trail crosses Hosmer Brook and heads north to the trail junction. At the north end of pond, the trail may be wet
Healing Springs Trailnear the junction with the trail from New Discovery Campground. The trail follows the pond back to the picnic shelter. Elevation Change: 1456 feet - 1477 feet

Lake Shaftsbury State Park
This walk around Lake Shaftsbury provides a glimpse of the area's history as well as its beautiful woods and waters.  From the days of Healing Springs to the present, both human and natural forces have shaped the environment.  By interpreting the landscape and drawing on the memories of local historians, this trail tells some of Lake Shaftsbury's story.  The path leads through rich wetlands, a home and nesting area for birds that prefer seclusion.  

Lowell Lake State Park
The 3.5-mile long Lowell Lake Trail is one of the main features of the park. It circles Lowell Lake using a foot path and portions of snowmobile trail, multi-use path on the western side of the park and part of a town road. Trail highlights include a Revolutionary War-era cemetery, stands of large white pine trees and scenic views of the lake and wetlands. The trail is located on relatively flat terrain and the hike is easy, with some wet sections. The trail is marked with blue paint blazes.

Woodford State Park
The longer main hiking trail in the park circumnavigates the reservoir and campground, sticking to the woods on the eastern side of the park, and coming closer to the shoreline along the west. Ample opportunity for wildlife viewing. Can be accessed from the day use area parking lot or at several points along the campground road.

For more trail information, visit our Hiking Page.

Bomseen Renovation:
Same incredible scenery, but a better experience

Next Spring, visitors to Bomoseen State Park will be greeted with great new beach facilities.  The renovated beach house, lawn and waterfront represents the largest portion of an investment of over 1.2 Million dollars.  When complete, the project will not only improve the buildings and grounds but provide a direct link for boaters on the Lake and campers in the campground with this phenomenal beach area.
What to expect;
  • A new renovated beach house that will welcome you with an incredible vista, new restroom facilities, changing area, concession and boat rental.
  • Two Family restrooms for the comfort of little ones without having to fully enter either restroom.
  • A new Playground and expanded sand beach area.
  • New docks for boaters arriving from the lake and for campers who bring their boats
  • An inclusive experience with accessibility for all to each and every one of these features
We are proud to have made this investment in Bomoseen State Park and look forward to your next visit.

First Day Hikes Return!

Start your new year on the right foot!
Once again this year, Vermont State Parks will be offering guided, free First Day Hikes all across Vermont.  

We'll be posting details as and on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.

Check Us Out on Social Media!

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State Park Entry is Free on Black Friday!
You might have seen in the news lately that many state parks across the country are offering free entry on Black Friday in an effort to get people outdoors instead of in stores.

Well, never the one to be out done, all of Vermont State Parks are open free of charge, not only on Black Friday, but every day in the parks 'off season'.

That's right: you can hike, ski, snowshoe and even camp in Vermont State Parks at no charge, until the gates open back up in late April.

To learn more, visit our Off Season page.

So this Black Friday -- Forget the stores and get outdoors!
All New, Limited Edition 
State Park Holiday Gifts On Sale Now 
Looking for something fun to give the outdoor lover on your list? Or for that person who has everything?  Consider putting some of the Vermont great outdoors under your tree.

All new this year, our Holiday Gift Packages come with park passes, camping passes and park gear, plus they come fully wrapped, ready-to-give and shipping is free! 

We also have handcrafted stoneware steins, T-shirts, sweatshirts, parks passes and gift certificates to suit any budget.

You can order online at:
Or, call our reservation call center at 
Day Tripper Holiday Gift Package  
Day Tripper Package
1 punch card good for 10 park day visits
1 one-hour boat rental
1 hat
1 grocer tote bag

Weekend Getaway Package
2 nights of tent, RV or lean-to camping
2 enamel Happy Camper      mugs
1 armload of firewood
1 picnic tablecloth
1 deck of playing cards
1 grocer tote bag

Full Season of Family Fun Package
1 Family Vehicle Season Pass (provides free  day use entry for up to 8 people in one vehicle in any Vermont State Park day use area all season long.
2 water bottles
1 "Explore" Beach towel
2 1-hour boat rentals
1 deck of playing cards
1 grocer tote bag

Also check out:

Handcrafted Stoneware Pint Stein
Raise a glass and toast your favorite state park with this attractive and sturdy mug. Made in the USA. 
Stewards of Fun Hoodie 
Vermont State Parks Hosts Record Setting 1 Million Visitors This Year 

MONTPELIER - October 28, 2015 - Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced a milestone in Vermont State Park visitation. So far this year, more than 1 million people have visited state parks. That hasn't happened in 27 years and has only occurred four other times over the 91 year history of the park system.

"We are all pleased that so many Vermonters and guests are realizing the treasures we have in our wonderful park system," Gov. Shumlin said. "Outdoor recreation is such an important part of Vermont's culture and economy and state parks offer a way for all of us to enjoy Vermont's best." The state will receive an estimated $6.1 million in direct revenue from this year's visitation. The statewide economic impact from those visits is about $88 million. State Park attendance has been growing steadily over the last several years. Commissioner Michael Snyder of the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation attributes the success to a number of factors.

"Our parks program staff do an outstanding job reminding people of the value of the park experience, we have invested wisely in our structures and facilities, and we have an excellent front line staff that offer the outstanding customer service we are known for."
Vermont has a system of 52 state parks that are fully operated from mid-May through mid-October each year. The department expects the trend in park use to continue over the years to come.
For more information about Vermont State Parks visit

Birch Bark Blast From the Past

Greetings time travelers! This month, we're taking you back. Way, way back (Ok, not THAT far). Recently, a long-time camper reached out to us with an amazing State Park related memento from her dad, and correctly thought we might like to have it.
This special piece of memorabilia dates from the opening night of Lake Carmi State Park, on June 29, 1963. Her father, Gordon Brown, worked at the park that first year. On opening night, he made the rounds and collected signatures from campers at the 32 original sites (and where they traveled from)- all on a piece of birch bark from the park.

On the reverse side of the well-traveled frame is a hand-written note, detailing its creation and journey:

"Campers' Roll on birch bark made by Gordon Brown. Birch bark obtained from block of wood on wood pile by site #14, (from birch tree cut down to open camp sites). Campers' Roll presented to the Caretaker,  on 29 June 1963. Mr. Caretaker framed Campers' roll.

Campers' Roll was hung in ticket office for some years. Mr. Caretaker gave it to Caretaker and Ranger at Lake Carmi after Mr. Caretaker retired. Campers' Roll went to Department of Forest and Parks (Vermont) at Montpelier, Vermont. CR was returned to the park. It was kept until 18 Aug, 1982 when it was returned to Gordon Brown- the camper who originated it!

Campers' roll completed the full circle in 19 years, 1 month, 21 days.

What a find. Thanks to Pamela Brown for donating it to us, and to her dad Gordon for hanging onto it for all these years. Who recognizes a family name or friend on this list??
It also seems fitting to note two popular songs on the billboard charts that particular month in 1963: "My Summer Love" by Ruby and the Romantics, and "Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer" by Nat King Cole.

Who else has cool state parks related
memorabilia, photos, etc. from past years tucked away in their basement, just dying to see the light of day? Please share, we'd love to see them! 

Remember Vermont State Parks on #GivingTuesday!
Tuesday, December 1 is #GivingTuesday - a day to support the causes you are passionate about and encourage others to do the same!

On #GivingTuesday, please consider showing your gratitude for our amazing state parks by making a gift of support to Vermont Parks Forever (VPF), the foundation to benefit Vermont State Parks.

If you were one of the one million visitors enjoying our state parks this year, we hope you'll join us on #GivingTuesday to help enhance and sustain our parks for the millions yet to come!

With thanks!

P.S.  Stay in touch! Join your fellow state park enthusiasts on VPF's Facebook page, Twitter feed and sign up for our e-newsletter.

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Vermont State Parks
1 National Life Drive, Davis 2
Montpelier, VT 05620