Fall in the Parks: A Peaceful Time
Just because fall is inching closer every day doesn't mean you have to prepare to hibernate just yet. Half of Vermont State Parks are fully operational and spending a fall day or night at a state park has unique advantages. The parks are quieter after those meddling kids have gone back to school, allowing you the chance to relax in the peace of your campsite or on the trail. Less people in the parks means a greater choice of sites and the cooler nights make relaxing by a campfire a real joy, especially without the threat of pesky bugs.
The cool weather is also ideal for hiking and biking. Check out Vermont State Parks' picks for the best parks to bike in. The parks also have a variety of wonderful hiking opportunities, for hikers of all abilities. Gaze up at the stars on a crisp night or take a walk through the spectacular fall foliage. Also note that fall is a great time to spot birds in their fall migration -- Mt. Philo in Charlotte is a superb place to observe the hawk migration!
Take a look at the Parks Operation Schedule to see which parks are open after Labor Day.
Don't miss the opportunity to take a hike in the parks this fall. Coolidge State Park in Plymouth has amazing views of the Black River Valley and Green Mountains. Gifford Woods State Park in Killington is on the Appalachian Trail and is well-known for its incredible views fall foliage. Take a trip up Mt. Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak (4,393' elevation!) while staying at Underhill and Smugglers' Notch State Parks. The trek up Mt. Philo is a great family hike, and well worth the view of Lake Champlain and awesome autumn colors!
If you would like to spend the night in the park, but don't want to risk the cold, consider one of the cottages available for rent at Branbury, Camp Plymouth, Half Moon, and Ricker Pond State Parks. Cottages have multiple rooms, beds, heat and electricity, and kitchen appliances. Another option is to reserve a cabin, available at Brighton, Button Bay, Gifford Woods, Grand Isle, Half Moon, Little River, Ricker Pond, Woodford, and Wilgus State Parks. Cabins are one room dwellings with bunk beds and a futon or sleeper couch. More rustic than cottages, cabins are a great way to stay warm and dry while enjoying the parks. If you want to extend your summer, visit Grand Isle State Park in the Champlain Islands, where the weather stays warmer longer.
If you're looking for a unique lodging experience, check out the Seyon Lodge State Park. Open nearly all year long, the Seyon Lodge is set within the Groton State Forest and offers infinite outdoor recreation opportunities. Enjoy Vermont farm-to-table meals and trout fishing on Noyes Pond, or go explore the park on skis or snowshoes. The Lodge includes a cozy common room where guests can relax by the fire.
If you want to check out some famous Vermont attractions, Little River and Quechee State Parks are great base camps. Little River is located just minutes from the Ben & Jerry's Factory, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and Montpelier, the state capitol. While you're at Quechee State Park, take a trip to the breathtaking Quechee Gorge, the Justin Morrill State Historic Site, or tour the Simon Pearce Glass Blowing Mill and Pottery Shop on Main Street. For craft brew connoisseurs, Elmore State Park is located within a half hour of five different Vermont breweries!