Repost: A Weekend at Wilgus State Park, Open May 1st!
In honor of Wilgus State Park (our first to open, May 1st,) here is a suggested itinerary of things to do in the park and surrounding area. This was a featured blog on out website a couple of years back, and does a great job of covering all you need to know about Wilgus.
Friday evening: arrive, unpack, and unwind in the natural peace and quiet of Wilgus State Park.
Saturday morning: Early breakfast! You’ll need to fuel up for your day.
Adventure by land: Hike to the Mt. Ascutney Observation Tower! The 24.5 foot tower provides hikers with a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and is located near the summit on the Windsor and Brownsville Trails. The tower was constructed from sections of the original Mt. Ascutney fire tower, which was used for fire surveillance until 1952. The park and auto road open May 22.
How to get there: from the upper parking lot on the Mt. Ascutney Parkway, visitors can hike to the summit of Mt. Ascutney via the Slot (.64 miles) or Slab (.55 miles) Trails. If you’re looking for a longer day, these trails do connect with the Windsor (2.7 mi), Weathersfield (2.9 mi) and Brownsville Trails (3.2 mi). Excellent views are enjoyed from Brownsville Rock, Castle Rock, West Peak, and the observation tower. The Slab trail is recommended for hikers seeking the least strenuous route and is marked with yellow diamond blazes. (Although this is the easiest route to the top, sturdy shoes and water are still necessary, as hikers will gain nearly 350 feet in elevation on this short trail.) If you follow this route to the summit, return the same way.
**A picnic lunch at any of the scenic destinations around Mt. Ascutney is a great option if you plan to hike any of the longer summit trails!**
Adventure by sea: Ok, it’s not exactly the sea, but it’s the Connecticut River! In partnership with Great River Outfitters in Windsor, you can rent a canoe or kayak and spend a whole or half day on the pristine waters of the Connecticut River.
How it works: Sign up in person or by phone by 6pm the day before your trip. Meet at the Pavilion in Wilgus at your scheduled time (9am) and take a shuttle up river to begin your trek! Visit the sitefor pricing and details.
Back at the Park: Enjoy a relaxing picnic lunch on the river bank, and maybe some fishing…
If you are an adult party and didn’t spend the whole day out at the mountain or on the river, you might think about visiting Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, just a fifteen minute drive north of Wilgus. Whether it’s just for dinner at the Riverbend Taps & Beer Garden or you take a brewery tour, it’s a great place to unwind after a day spent outside in the sun! Visit the site for menus and tour schedules.
Sunday: Because we know you didn’t get enough, why not end your trip with the Pinnacle Trail: an easy, one-mile loop located across from the campground. The hike provides a scenic view of the Connecticut River Valley.
Back at camp, enjoy some riverside lounging, fishing, and lunching, or break camp and check out some historic sites located in Windsor on your way home:
The Constitution House State Historic Site is a great place to explore Vermonthistory, and The Old Constitution House features period rooms that reflect its use as an early tavern. A large interpretive area in the early 20th century tea room examines the events surrounding the signing of the Vermont Constitution.
The American Precision Museum is an amazing place for anyone interested in engineering—The Museum preserves the heritage of the mechanical arts, celebrates the ingenuity of our mechanical forebears, and explores the effects of their work on our everyday lives. Housed in the original Robbins & Lawrence Armory, the American Precision Museum now holds the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation.
Lastly (for those of you are interested) here's a bit of history about the park: the land that makes up Wilgus State Park was given to the state of Vermont in 1933 by Colonel and Mrs. William Wilgus. Colonel Wilgus, born in 1865, was an internationally famous civil engineer whose career paralleled the development of modern transportation. Colonel Wilgus received the Distinguished Service Medal for his work as Deputy Director of General Transportation, and his ideas helped create the Detroit River Tunnel. The original park, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, consisted of a picnic area with large flue-type stone fireplaces, picnic tables, and the ranger's quarters.
Around 1960, expansion of the campground began, paving the way for Wilgus State Park to become a popular destination for canoers, kayakers, and hikers alike.
Today, there are 4 cabins with wifi connection, 17 tent/RV sites, and 6 lean-to sites which are located along the river bank. The park also features a picnic area and shelter (no charge for small group reservations!), 3 lean-tos in the group area, canoe and kayak rental, one rest room with running water, and hot showers.
All in all, Wilgus State Park offers an awesome range of activities sure to please everyone in your party. We hope to see you out there this weekend, whether on the river, at the summit of Mt. Ascutney, or winding down at your campsite!
Vermont State Parks
-By Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks
-By Carlie Timbie