Vermont State Parks e-newsletter                                                   May 2018
Spring green at Half Moon Pond State Park. Photo by Mike Paine

Greetings Everyone!

Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks 
One of the very best things we can do for ourselves is spend time outdoors relaxing, reflecting and having fun. We know it makes us feel better and think more clearly. But did you realize that scientists have shown a direct connection between our physical health and outdoor recreation? Even if we are not particularly active, just being outside in nature has a demonstrated positive effect on our health.
We figure the more people that know that, the more time they will spend outdoors, the healthier they are and the better off we all are! So, that's why we are continuing our Parks Prescription program another year. Over a hundred doctors across Vermont are writing "prescriptions" for their patients, who can redeem them at a state park day area for a free admission. It is a way for our doctors to remind us being outdoors is really good for us. And, who better to deliver the message than our doctor?! So if you visit a doctor in Vermont this summer, ask for a Parks Prescription and enjoy your visit to your favorite state park!
See you out there!

Craig Whipple
Director, Vermont State Parks

The Outdoor Observer:
Birds Are Sneaking Back

By Rebecca Roy
Spring 2018 

There is great comfort in busy flocks of chickadees in winter woods. Calling, hopping, curious little flocks of small black and white friends are a rare view of vibrant life in the bleak winter landscape. It seems a miracle they survive the harsh northern New England winter. This winter seemed harsher and longer, and we find greater delight in arrivals of our summer residents, the migratory birds.

Red-winged blackbird at Lake Carmi State Park

We mark spring by the first calls of red-winged blackbirds here; these are followed by phoebes and other flycatchers. We watch carefully for thrushes, and the first warblers. Yesterday I saw a loon in Silver Lake State Park. Birds are sneaking back.

Everyone in Vermont is itching to get out on trails as soon as snow is melting in the dooryard. It is mud season now, when trails are most fragile and feet make the greatest impact. There are still wonderful safe places to hike to spot some of these early migratory bird arrivals.

I went to Mount Ascutney State Park recently, and hiked the State Park Parkway which ends near the summit. The views are extensive. I went to observe the changing seasons, to see those precious early signs of spring.

View from along the parkway at Mt. Ascutney

I was treated to a long view of endless rolling Vermont landscape tinged in red by flower buds of red maples swelling in the woods below. As I enjoyed that view, and breathed in deeply the smell of wet leaves and thawed ground, I was treated to the view of a new migratory arrival.

Below me soaring was a broad-winged Hawk. The distinctive white and black bars on the tail, and the stout body shape helped me identify the bird. What a thrill it was to watch the hawk soar through trees below me. It was probably looking for some small rodents to eat. I watched it perch for a few minutes in a tall tree, and then it took off again and disappeared into the woods.

Broad-winged hawks are famous for their migrations because they form huge flocks, or kettles, on their way to and from South America. These kettles include thousands of hawks circling together. The hawk I saw started the trip to Vermont with thousands of other broad-winged hawks.

Hawk perching. Cornell Lab of Ornithology video

The hawk just flew 4,350 miles to arrive in its summer home at Mount Ascutney. It flew about 70 miles a day. I've been reading a book about a record setting hike on the Appalachian Trial, and I thought a 2,181 mile hike through the woods was impressive.

Whether hardiness to survive winter, or lengthy migratory adventures-the birds of Vermont are miracles. Get out into your favorite state park and make your own observations of changing seasons. The woods are full of pleasant surprises as all the migratory birds are sneaking back.
Weekend At Quechee State Park
Sample Trip Planning Itinerary 

Friday Evening: 

Arrive, set up camp, dinner and relax.  The park has a volleyball net and horseshoe pit for pickup games if you want to play games. 

View from along the gorge. Photo by Nicole Olmstead


Breakfast in camp. 

Visit the Quechee Gorge, Vermont's deepest gorge and our "little Grand Canyon." No need to drive- just hike the trail to to gorge right from the campground. Swim or fish in the gorge, or explore the wooded trails nearby. 

The trail to the gorge

Quechee Gorge has a fascinating geological history- learn more here

Return to camp, dinner, s'mores and relax around the campfire.

Sunday Morning:  

Breakfast; break camp and pack picnic lunches for the road, and check out of the park. 

Quechee is known for large trees and spacious sites. Photo by Tara Schatz

Sunday Afternoon:   Adventure Time!

Choose your own adventure. Pick one:

Visit the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and hang with eagles, owls, falcons and more. Attend a raptor show to get a closer look. There are also walking trails to explore. 

Retail therapy. Go shopping at nearby Quechee Gorge Village and pick up Vermont products like cheese and maple syrup, or head down the road for an afternoon in Woodstock. 

Visit nearby Silver Lake State Park in Barnard. This is a favorite park for families with good swimming, picnic area, playground, and a dock to jump off of. Just show your car tag at the gate- when you camp at any state park, you get into all other parks for the day for free!

Nearby Silver Lake makes a great day trip from Quechee

National Trails Day Is June 2nd, 2018
Get outside and celebrate your favorite Vermont trails. Here are five of our favorites in Vermont State Parks
Scene from the trail at Mt. Ascutney. Photo by Tara Schatz

1) Sterling Pond Trail

Smugglers' Notch State ParkStowe, VT


2) Point Nature Trail

Button Bay State Park, Ferrisburgh VT


3) Fire Tower Trail

Elmore State ParkElmore VT 


4) Weathersfield and Windsor Trails

Mt. Ascutney State ParkWindsor VT 


5) Sunrise and Sunset Trails

Fort Dummer State ParkBrattleboro VT 


Trail listing on

Find New Trails With Our Trailfinder Website 

You can also search for hiking, biking and multi-use trails all over Vermont at the website Search by location, or by a specific trail. You can also search by specific trail adventures, including nature trails, summit hikes, and trails in state parks. New trails are added periodically, so check back often. 

Join The Fun- The Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge 

Challenge: hike to a waterfall

The  2018 Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge  officially kicked off last month in April. Every year, individuals and families from all over Vermont participate in this fun outdoor scavenger hunt, earning points while taking part in exciting outdoor activities like hiking, swimming, fishing, identifying plants, and more. Last year, there were over 200 participants who played in the parks, got outside, and discovered new things about Vermont's natural landscape.
Challenge: try out an SUP

Activities this year include:
  • Plant a tree
  • Go mountain biking 
  • ID dragonflies 
  • Designate a "screen-free" day 
  • Have a picnic breakfast in a park 

Join in the fun; download a scorecard here and check off different activities as you complete them. Remember to take photos of yourself doing all of the activities.  When you reach 250 points, you are eligible to receive a VIP token and free day use in the parks for the rest of the current season and the following year. 


Challenge: cook a meal over a campfire


Also, there are weekly bonus activities posted on our Facebook page and on the Venture Vermont page on our website. 


Venture Vermont Coin 

Good luck, and happy venturing in 2018. 



Schedule some free time this summer: Vermont Days Weekend will be June 9th and 10th, 2018


Vermont Days will be held June 9th  and 10th  this year!  Day use is free at all state parks so come and hike, picnic, swim, play, and relax all weekend. Swing by Waterbury Center State Park on Sunday at 2:00 pm to enjoy the music of the Green Mountain Brass Band!


Other Vermont Days activities include free fishing in every body of water in Vermont, free entry to Vermont historic sites, and free admission to the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier!


For more information about Vermont Days' activities and events, visit:


Interested In Fishing? Have Some "Reel Fun" With Our Expanded Gear Loaner Program

"Got one!"

Teaming up with our friends at Vermont Fish & Wildlife, Vermont State Parks are proud to offer free loaner fishing gear, including rods & reels, lures, and water body info packets through the REEL FUN program!

18 state parks provide fishing equipment kits to visitors on a loaner basis. Included in the kits are rods, reels, fishing line and an assortment of lures or baits that can be signed out by park visitors to provide instant access to the sport of fishing.

Each kit contains a guide that includes information about the water body, a lake or river map, a list of fish species present, fishing tips and techniques applicable to each waterway, as well as information about obtaining a Vermont fishing license.

Trying out fishing on a sunny day

K ids 14 and under always fish for free without a license and single-day and 3-day licenses are available online here

List of parks participating in REEL FUN, summer 2018:

Featured Photography Intern
Tara Schatz is a local writer and photographer based in Bennington, VT. She is one of our most prolific interns, and writes about her family's many adventures at

Vermont Parks Forever:
The Foundation for Vermont State Parks

Keep an eye out for this  dedicated group of park enthusiasts working to leverage private resources to make Vermont's state parks even more wonderful. Vermont Parks Forever  works in close partnership with VSP staff to expand access to parks, increase educational opportunities and welcome the next generation of park visitors.  

Stay informed and help spread the word about Vermont Parks Forever!  Check out their Facebook page, follow their tweets, or sign up for their quarterly e-newsletter at
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We greatly appreciate their support and yours!
Quick Links 

Vermont State Parks

Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge

Bomoseen State Park

Brighton State Park 

Burton Island State Park 

Button Bay State Park

Camp Plymouth State Park

Coolidge State Park

Elmore State Park

Emerald Lake State Park 

Fort Dummer State Park 

Gifford Woods State Park

Grand Isle State Park

Half Moon Pond State Park 

Lake Carmi State Park 

Lake St. Catherine State Park

Little River State Park

Maidstone State Park

Mt. Ascutney State Park

Quechee State Park

Ricker Pond State Park

Silver Lake State Park  

Smugglers' Notch State Park 

Stillwater State Park

Waterbury Center State Park

Wilgus State Park

Woodford State Park

Fishing Info 

Vermont Days



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mountain flowers
"Summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language" 
-Henry James

Thank you for reading the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks

Vermont State Parks | 888-409-7579 |
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 Montpelier, VT 05620