Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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
LudlowThe 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.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Birch Bark Blast From the Past

Greetings time travelers! This Throwback Thursday, 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:

Lake Carmi State Park 
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 Ant Davis at park. He kept it until 18 Aug, 1982 when he returned it 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! 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Molly's Falls Pond to Become Vermont's Newest State Park

News Release — Vermont Land Trust
October 29, 2015

Michael Snyder, FPR Commissioner, (802) 828-1534, Michael.Snyder@vermont.gov
Elise Annes, VP for Community Relations, VLT, (802) 262-1206 or (802) 522-9855, Elise@vlt.org
Deb Markowitz, ANR Secretary, (802) 828-1294, Deb.Markowitz@vermont.gov
Dotty Schnure, GMP spokesperson, (802) 655-8418, Dorothy.Schnure@greenmountainpower.com

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. The Forest Legacy program 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. “This project simply would not have happened had they not been willing to take this significant risk. The property is an exceptional place, not only for water-based recreation, but also for wildlife habitat and scenic quality along the Route 2 travel corridor, and we are excited and pleased that we will finally be able to protect it as a public resource.”

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.”

The Vermont Land Trust also has secured stewardship funding to assist the Department with some necessary start-up and operations costs. A priority is to restore some of the most heavily used sites along the reservoir by replanting shoreline areas that are currently bare and erosion-prone. Public input will be welcome as the Department begins to develop a long-term management plan for the Park in 2016.

“Molly’s Falls is a beautiful area and we are so pleased that Vermonters will be able to enjoy it as part of the state park system,” said Dorothy Schnure, Green Mountain Power spokesperson. “We have been privileged to generate clean, low-cost hydroelectricity there for our customers for nearly 90 years, and will continue to do so while the area continues to offer recreational opportunities for all. We appreciate the commitment of the Vermont Land Trust and state officials to help make the transition a reality.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vermont State Parks Hosts Record Setting
One 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. Although the areas are open and sometimes heavily used during the off season, attendance is only tracked during the operating period. The department expects the trend in park use to continue over the years to come.

For more information about Vermont State Parks visit www.vtstateparks.com.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hunting Safety for Off-Season Park Use

It may be getting chillier outside, but Vermont State Parks are still open during the off-season. However, before you head into the woods during this time of year, keep in mind that hunting season may be in progress. Hunting is an annual tradition for Vermonters and an important part of the state’s cultural heritage. Vermont was the first state to adopt constitutional language that protects your right to hunt, and many people view hunting as a way to source their meat locally as well as build a relationship with the land. Hunting is allowed on all state lands, including State Parks, during the off-season.

Please come and visit the parks, but remember to be cautious in the woods. Dress in blaze orange (dogs, too) and make yourself heard!

You may be less likely to run into hunters at parks that keep their gates closed, such as Mt. Philo State Park in Ferrisburgh, Molly Stark State Park in Wilmington, Townshend State Park in Townshend, and Thetford Hill State Park in Springfield. Niquette Bay, Underhill, and Knight Point are also good choices. When planning your hike, please note that hunters are required to stay back at least 500 feet of park facilities and structures on state lands, so walking on park roads (no matter what park you're at) is a good option.

For more information on hunting in Vermont, view Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s Hunting and Trapping Calendar. For more information on trails, view the Vermont State Parks Hiking page.

Vermont Fish & Wildlife's Hunting & Trapping Calendar:

September 01 -November 13             Black Bear Early Season
October 03 -October 25                     Archery Deer
October 03 -October 23                     Turkey Fall Season - Bow & Arrow only in all WMU's
October 17 -October 22                     Moose Regular
October 24 -November 08                 Turkey Fall- Shotgun or Bow & Arrow in WMU's F, K, AND N
October 24 -November 01                 Turkey Fall - Shotgun or Bow & Arrow in WMU's B, D, G, H,                                                                  I, J, L, M, O, P, and Q
November 07 -November 08              Youth Deer Weekend
November 14 - November 22             Late Black Bear Hunting Season
November 14 - November 29             Rifle Deer Hunting Season        
December 5 - December 13               Bow & Arrow Deer Hunting        
December 5 - December 13               Muzzleloader Deer Hunting Season

Click here for Upland Birds and Waterfowl, Small Game, Furbearer Hunting, and Furbearer Trapping schedules.

The parks listed below currently have their gates open for hunting season:

Allis State Park
Coolidge State Park
Mt. Ascutney State Park
Bomoseen Forest Block (not the campground/park proper)
Alburg State Park
Burton Island State Park
Grand Isle State Park
Kamp Kill Kare State Park
Knight Island State Park
Knight Point State Park
Lake Carmi State Park
Niquette Bay State Park
North Hero State Park
Sand Bar State Park
Underhill State Park
Woods Island State Park
Brighton State Park
Elmore State Park
Little River State Park
New Discovery State Park

Enjoy the season and remember to stay safe!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quechee Haunted Campground and Twisted Wizard of Oz Trail

It's that time of year again! Put on your brave face and try not to get scared out of your pants at the Quechee State Park Haunted Campground...it's even bigger and better this year, and, as always, is kept going by your donations.

This year, the theme for our Haunted Trail is "Twisted Wizard of Oz," which will be running from 5pm-9:30pm on Saturday, October 17th at Quechee State Park. Other activities will begin earlier though, in the Quechee Gorge Village.

We take reservations for walk times, and allow groups of 6-10 - please arrive about 15 minutes prior to your walk time to get a chance to meet the Wizard himself...if you've got little ones with you, though, we recommend scheduling for the early time slots, as things naturally get a bit scarier once the sun sets. Call us to reserve: 802-295-2990.

Schedule of Events:
Start at the Quechee Gorge Village shops at 3 pm and ride the Haunted Train, visit the businesses to trick or treat, and listen to Sindy Skinless and the Decomposers! They're a lively skeleton band who entertain and delight all ages.

Then join the children's games under the big tent and win prizes.   Be sure to stop in at All Around Towne photography ($) if you want pictures before joining the festivities at the Visitor Center as you prepare for your walk. Visit with the VINS Center staff  for Hoots and Howls sometime from 4:30-6pm and learn about owls, a classic and beautiful creature of the night.

After you've had a nice afternoon of Halloween Fun, head into the forest and meet your guides as we provide you with a hauntingly good time, and finish your walk with an Egg Haunt brought to you by the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department

Friday, September 25, 2015

Meet the Student Conservation Association Interns!

You can still get out and enjoy an inspirational program in some Vermont State Parks.  Programs are expanded into the fall this year, with three Student Conservation Association Interns offering visitor programming and school programs in parks well into November. The SCA, founded in 1957, gives young people the opportunity to make a real impact and lasting effects on our natural world and in our communities, by connecting them with meaningful internship opportunities. Vermont State Parks is lucky to have these three to further the reach of our mission in inspiring environmental stewardship and connections with the land.

Want to get to know them better?

 Cat Cook is working at Lake St Catherine State Park in Poultney:

I go by Cat and I was born in Cleveland, Ohio. I recently graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a B.S. in Geology. I love to travel and be outdoors. Some of my favorite things to do are long-distance backpacking, kayaking, fishing, teaching, and baking. I'm very interested in natural history and environmental science, and love both learning new things as well as sharing my knowledge with others.

Nate Howard is at Lake Shaftsbury State Park in Shaftsbury:

A recent graduate of Tulane University, Nate is thrilled to be a member of Vermont State Parks’ SCA team.  Raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts, Nate has been an avid outdoorsman since his swaddling days, frequently hiking, biking, birdwatching, and collecting insects until day’s end.  He enjoys singing, playing guitar, and listening to music in his spare time, as well as watching sci-fi, fantasy, and martial arts movies.  Nate hasn’t spent a full winter in the Northeast in 4 years and is quite apprehensive about the cold weather, and is currently considering ways to help his poor car overcome the expected dousing of snow.  In the future, Nate aspires to carry out biological research and/or become a member of National Geographic’s traveling photography team.  For now, however, he will enjoy serving as an environmental educator/jungle gym for local children.

Maura Lowrie is at DAR State Park in Addison:

Maura is from western Pennsylvania near the Pittsburgh area. She is a music education graduate who loves spending time outdoors, especially kayaking and backpacking. Before serving with the SCA, Maura had been involved in Venture Scouts where her love of the outdoors was fostered through teaching kids the joy of canoeing and camping in the Canadian bush country of Kipawa, Quebec. At her local YMCA, Maura is a lifeguard, teaches lifeguard courses, and teaches swim lessons. Maura has a strong love for teaching others, especially in teaching from her growing knowledge of the natural world and her experience in outdoor skills.
Most recently, Maura served with the Massachusetts AmeriCorps program, where she learned how to build many different trail structures and developed leadership skills in leading trail crews in order to build and maintain sustainable trails throughout the state of Massachusetts. Maura is excited to work as an educational interpreter for Vermont State Parks this fall, reaching out to local schools and the surrounding communities to bring hands-on environmental education opportunities and a stronger connection with the natural world to those communities.

By Guest Blogger Rebecca Roy
Conservation Education Coordinator
Vermont State Parks