5 Underrated State Parks to Visit
|View from the trail at Fort Dummer|
Other mountain parks like Smugglers’ Notch get all the love, but Coolidge is an underrated gem, conveniently located off of Route 100, and not far from a string of beautiful lakes. It’s a rustic, retro location for those looking for a quite weekend in a lovely mountain setting. Sites are well-spaced out, giving privacy, and there are several very remote sites that can still be accessed by car. There are hiking trails in the park, and in the Coolidge State Forest, as well as the nearby Long Trail. When you want to go for a swim, hop in your car and drive 15 minutes to Camp Plymouth State Park on Echo Lake. Show your car tag, and get in for free.
Fort Dummer State Park
If you’re in southern Vermont and looking for a base to explore the area, Fort Dummer is a good choice. It’s located just outside the town of Brattleboro, and close to other southern Vermont locations like Bennington, Wilmington and Dover. New Hampshire is also just across the border. Fort Dummer has no lake, but there are a couple hiking trails and swimming holes to try.
Big Deer and New Discovery State Parks
Groton and Marshfield, VT
The Groton State Forest is a very popular destination in north/ central VT, with several lakes, beaches and dozens of trails to keep you occupies for a week or more. Ricker Pond and Stillwater are the most popular campgrounds with highly sought after waterfront lean-tos. If these are all booked, you can still enjoy a Groton vacation. Big Deer is a quiet campground a short drive away from Boulder Beach, and New Discovery has sites for tents, lean-tos and horse camping sites, as well as remote camping on Osmore Pond.
Allis State Park
Allis is a quiet, rustic park perfect for those looking to spend a peaceful weekend in the woods. There are old fields, meadows and forests, and a log pavilion available to reserve for special events. If you feel like some learning, take the self-guided, mile-long Bear Hill Nature Trail. One of the best things at Allis is the fire tower: a popular spot with expansive views in all directions: west to the spine of the Green Mountains, southwest to Killington and Pico, and east to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. And, despite the remote feel, the park is only a half an hour from Montpelier, and 15 minutes from Randolph.
Fun fact: Allis is the second oldest park in our system, the state of Vermont acquiring the property in 1928, only behind Mt. Philo.