Hot Tips for Cold Weather: Off-Season Park Use and Hunting Season

“Can I still go into a park that’s closed for the season?”

This is the most common question we get during the fall and winter months. The short answer is “yes!” Staff have gone home, and parks are officially closed for the year, but late fall has a start beauty all its' own, and the off season is a great time to visit - for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, or even a late season picnic. 

Basic Rules & Things to Remember

No facilities or services available: restrooms, running water, etc. Carry-in and carry-out everything that you bring with you.

Please park only in a manner that allows access by others and please drive only on established roadways or parking areas. This means that when a gate is closed, park outside without blocking, and walk in. In winter, plowed parking is available in certain locations. List of winter access areas can be found here.

Park staff are only present sporadically during the off-season. We invite you to be our "eyes and ears" by reporti…

Something Wicked This Way Comes: Strange Happenings at Mt. Philo

"All a skeptic is is someone who hasn’t had an experience yet.” — Jason Hawes 

Halloween occurs in between the sweet vibrancy of summer and the dark, quiet depths of winter. Transition bring change and uncertainty. Many cultures around the world believe that during this period the worlds of the living and the dead can bleed into each other. Although it’s been a couple of years since a major occurrence, it appears as though something might be reaching out at Mount Philo State Park.
 Mount Philo State Park is the oldest Vermont State Park and is no stranger to ghostly apparitions or bizarre occurrences (see our classic blog post on ‘Freaky Philo’ for more). Throughout the 2019 season, strange animal carcasses were found here and there in ways that made it seem as though someone (or something) was engaging in some form of macabre taxidermy. After some time, it just stopped and all returned to normal.
In late September, things quickly veered back into the strange. College students were …

Public Invited to Public Meeting on Bingham Falls Conceptual Master Plan

The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation invites you to a Public Meeting on the Bingham Falls Conceptual Master Plan. The Public Meeting will be held on Thursday, November 7, 2019 at the Stowe Akeley Memorial Building from 5:30 – 7:00pm.
There will be a presentation on the conceptual master plan for Bingham Falls by the consultant team of SE Group, Timber & Stone, LLC and Grenier Engineering followed by a comment period. Their work was guided by a project committee with representatives from Stowe Land Trust, the Town of Stowe, Stowe Mountain Rescue, and the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
The conceptual mater plan design for Bingham Falls addresses parking, pedestrian paths/trails/loop trail, pedestrian bridges and viewing platforms, directional and information signs, location for potential future bathroom facility and any needed utility systems to support the planned infrastructure and facilities.
The Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recre…

Off the Beaten Path: Sentinel Rock State Park

Sure you've heard of Camel's Hump or Smugglers' Notch, but Vermont State Parks is more than just the 55 developed, staff-operated parks. We want to shine a light on our equally beautiful, but lesser known parks. First up: Sentinel Rock State Park. Check out this spotlight from Ellen Hinman of the St. Johnsbury Office.

Sentinel Rock State Park, located on Hinton Hill Road in the Town of Westmore, is one of the Department’s undeveloped state parks. The property was donated to the State in 1997 by the Wright Family. Throughout the Wright family’s half century of stewardship, two basic objectives for the property were pursued “FIRST, to maintain the property in as good a condition as we (sic Wrights) found it, and SECOND, to share the enjoyment of the natural attributes of the location with others who would appreciate them as we (sic Wrights) have.” (from the Long Range Management Plan, 2010).

Sentinel Rock SP is 356 acres in size and offers spectacular scenic views and many eco…

Caught in their web: Spooky Facts about Vermont Spiders

Legs of eight, slowly creeping.
Watching, waiting. Crawling, sneaking. Waiting, feeling. SNATCHING. Weaving. Wrapping. Then r e c e d i n g …
Spiders hang on the cobwebs of our mind. So many limbs and eyes cautiously waiting in the shadows for their next meal until they suddenly run forward to catch it. Spiders have captured human interest from the earliest histories, from the Greek tale of a boastful weaver named Arachne being turned into a spider by the gods to the West African trickster spider god Anansi.
In Vermont, we have over 100 species of spiders including orb weavers, fishing spiders, garden spiders and jumping spiders. Although we encounter spiders in our day to day life, these masters of stealth star in many nightmares. What makes them so terrifying and otherworldly?
Strange bodies. Spiders belong to the arachnid class which includes other creepy critters like scorpions, mites, and ticks. Arachnids have four pairs of legs and no antennae. Their skeleton is a hard suit of armor t…

"Gold in its Pocket" - Autumn's Unexpected Pop of Color

"Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons." ― Jim Bishop

The Green Mountain State is shifting to warmer tones: scarlet, orange, and gold. As the usual hardwood suspects of maple, beech, and birch are changing colors, there’s a contender for the most beautiful foliage that doesn’t quite fit the mold. 

While most conifers are evergreen (meaning they don’t lose their needle-like leaves yearly), tamarack is a beautiful exception in Vermont.  The tamarack has many names including American larch, hackmatack, or Larix laricina for you Latin lovers out there. Larches are the only deciduous members of the pine family.  Unlike most evergreens who shed their needles slowly and throughout the year, the tamarack’s needles turn a brilliant golden yellow then fall to the ground each winter. 

But why do these trees shed their needles? Tamaracks live in challenging locations. They are common in boreal forests in wet, poorly drained bogs and swamp where nutrients are sca…

Fall Field Trips with Vermont State Parks

Children who enjoy meaningful outdoor experiences think critically and act responsibly on behalf of the ecological, social, and economic values of natural resources as adults. Vermont State Parks are offering these opportunities for hundreds of youth across the state this fall. We are creating the next generation of people connected to the conservation values Vermonters hold dear.

State park certified interpreters create rich experiences for visitors of all ages. From preschoolers exploring the Civilian Conservation Corps Ascutney Camp at Mt Ascutney State Park, to high schoolers learning about old growth forest ecosystems at Gifford Woods State Park, there are hands-on, experiential learning opportunities for everyone.

Field trips are available at many more locations than ever before: Elmore, Little River, Waterbury Center, Gifford Woods, Coolidge, Quechee, Mt Ascutney, Jamaica, and a variety of locations in Groton State Forest. School groups booking ahead of time during the school yea…