May 2019
Parks Are Now Open
Greetings Everyone!
Although it seems to have been a particularly long winter this year, spring is finally here and in full swing! And with spring comes nice sunshine, warm weather, startlingly green fields and forests and, of course, a new operating season for Vermont State Parks.

The massive annual effort to bring our beautiful parks up to our high standards has been underway for a while already. My hat goes off to all our talented and dedicated maintenance staff working feverishly to make sure all the unseen but extremely important facilities and utility systems are up and running after the winter shutdown. It’s a lot of work but we know how important it is. 

We have also hired a particularly super group of front-line staff who will greet you when you arrive and help make sure your visits are fun, relaxing and invigorating. We are so ready for you!

See you out there!

Craig Whipple , Director of Vermont State Parks 
Get The Party Started!
With Memorial Day Weekend as the unofficial start of summer, Vermont State Parks are ready for all your outdoor activities. As the days get longer, we’ve been daydreaming of sunny days on the water and getting out on the trails. Whether you’re looking for heart pumping adventure or getting away from it all, Vermont State Parks have a little bit of something for everyone. Take a peek at our top five parks for biking, paddling, and nature watching and plan your next excursion!
Top 5 Road Biking Parks
To the right: Bicyclists at Grand Isle State Park

Part of the 363-mile Lake Champlain Bikeway, Button Bay State Park bike trails provide scenic views and easy riding on mostly paved trails. Minimal traffic and the flatter terrain make these trails perfect for family riding.

If you’re looking for intermediate to advanced riding with spectacular scenery, look no further than the rugged, steep mountains of Emerald Lake State Park . The Taconic mountain range is known for its white-rocked cliffs, limestone caves, and deep emerald green lakes. The vales of the Battenkill, Otter Creek, and Mettawee River and the adjoining corridors of Routes 11, 30 and 7 make for some world class bike routes as well.

The Champlain Islands, including Grand Isle State Park , are known for their many road biking options. The Lake Champlain Bikeways network includes over 992 miles of theme loops ranging in length from 10 to 60 miles along a network of quiet country roads. Five loops in the Champlain Islands include “Island Life” (11.6 miles), “Stone Castles” (15.0 miles), “A Trail to Two Beaches” (17.5 miles), “Liquid Elixir” (11.7 miles), and “A Legacy of Ancient Stone” (10.1 miles).

Lake Carmi State Park is just a short ride from the midpoint of the 26-mile Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail, which runs between the towns of St. Albans and Richford. The packed gravel surface of this old railroad grade makes for an easy ride, and the fact that you’re off the highway with no traffic to worry about makes it all the more enjoyable. Much of the trail follows the beautiful Missisquoi River, known for its spring whitewater, great fishing and downstream heron rookeries. At Lake Carmi State Park, the paved campground roads are great for kids’ bike riding.

In the Groton Forest, Ricker Pond State Park has 10 miles of the Cross-Vermont Trail. With a packed gravel bed and average gradient of less than 2%, this rail trail is appropriate for family riding and is easily accessible for people with disabilities. The trail takes you in and out of woodlands and past secluded lakes. Family riders can do an easy out-and-back, where experienced cyclists may choose a day-long loop.

Look for our favorite mountain biking parks in our next issue!
Top 5 Paddling Parks
To the left: A canoe near the edge of Molly's Falls Pond.

Accessible only by boat or passenger ferry,  Burton Island State Park  sits just off of St. Albans Point in the northern reaches of Lake Champlain. Known in the northeast as the “Sixth Great Lake,” Lake Champlain and its islands provide a paddler’s paradise with large expanses of open water, quiet bays and stunning views of both Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks.  Forming a large part of the border of Vermont, New York and Canada, the Vermont side of Lake Champlain is known as the “West Coast of New England” and is famous for its fabulous sunsets. A warning to novice paddlers: the Lake can change from calm to extremely choppy very quickly so be prepared to change your plans, adjust your route, or wait things out if safety considerations so dictate.

Because Echo Lake is so long and narrow, it makes for some interesting paddling at Camp Plymouth State Park . The paddle goes through landscaped park areas, forested patches, under bridges and up to the wetlands and wildlife of Lake Rescue. The full trip takes several hours, but can be tailored to meet your needs by simply turning around when ready.

Lake Carmi , with a 1375-acre surface area, is the fourth largest natural lake entirely within Vermont. It is 7.5 miles around, averages about 20 feet deep, and is 33 feet at the deepest point. The lake supports northern pike, walleyes, and other warm water species. The southern end of Lake Carmi is home to the third largest peat bog in Vermont. Most of the shoreline is privately owned, and except for the park frontage on the south shore and a public launch ramp on the north end, there are few places to stop for a break along the shore.

Surrounded by mountains,  Waterbury Center State Park  is located on a peninsula on 860-acre Waterbury Reservoir, formed when the Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) constructed a flood control dam in the 1930’s. You can choose your own adventure in the three distinct sections of the lake whether you’re looking for a more remote paddling experience or wish to go powerboating. Although mostly a day use park, there are several primitive boat-to-only campsites along the lake shore.

Wilgus State Park  is situated on a peaceful stretch of the Connecticut River in Southern Vermont, where paddlers of all abilities will enjoy a single or multi-day float. This park is a well-known stop-over spot for those on multi-day river trips. The park has cabins, tent and lean-to campsites as well as a group camping area. Hot showers, wood and ice, and canoe and kayak rentals are available. A local outfitter also runs a shuttle service and/or arranges half day and full day river trips from the park.
Top 5 Nature Watching Parks
To the right: A Great Blue Heron skims Lake Champlain.

Located in the northwest part of Vermont in the Lake Champlain islands, Knight Point State Park offers wide expanses of lawn and mature trees, a quiet beach, and a nature trail that leads to a beautiful, secluded point on the lake. This is the perfect spot to enjoy Lake Champlain away from the big crowds.

In northeastern Vermont and serving as part of the 26,000-acre Groton State Forest lies Osmore Pond, part of New Discovery State Park . This is a great, quiet place to spend a peaceful afternoon. New Discovery State Park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) in the 1930's and the rustic log picnic shelter and four log lean-tos around the lake are legacies of their work. There are also quaint picnic spots hidden here and there with stone fireplaces built by the CCC. There is a trail around the lake and loons are a common sight.

Also in the Groton Forest, Kettle Pond State Park is a quiet gem. You'll need to hike in about a quarter mile from the parking lot to get to the pond, or portage your boats if you want to paddle, but it’s well worth it. There is a trail that goes all the way around the lake, several remote lean-to's and great rocks to lay on and soak up the sun. Plus, you're likely to see loons!

In central Vermont, Allis State Park is off the beaten path. This park was so built by the CCC. There is a fire tower you can climb that has spectacular views and the Bear Mountain Trail gets you into the woods and has several very nice places to sit and take it all in.

Near Londonderry in southern Vermont, Lowell Lake State Park is one of the newer additions to the state park system and currently remains in an undeveloped, natural state. It is a great place for a quiet paddle or a walk on the trail that winds its way around the lake.
Outdoor Observer: Spring Foliage
To the right: Maple leaves glisten at Grand Isle State Park.

In Vermont we mostly have mixed-hardwood forests, and these hardwood trees are also called deciduous, meaning they lose their leaves in the fall. Since our trees go about six months without leaves, we always enjoy the miracle of new leaves and flowers emerging this time of year. The subtle color variations across the landscape are breathtaking. The most notable colors are the bright, light, spring green of tiny leaves emerging in miniature. Each species, or tree type, has a different color variation of spring green. The other obvious and beautiful color you see is red, from red maple flowers across the hillsides.

Red maples are not our most common maple species (you can probably guess our most numerous maple tree type) but they are very prevalent in our landscape. Red maples show something red year-round in their various parts: their twigs, their leaves in fall, their buds, and the flowers we are enjoying now. Seeing the flowers now gives away the numerous red maple prevalent in our landscape.
If you have never seen a tree flower close-up, you should take the opportunity to look at one. Trees are flowering plants and they have either male flowers, female flowers, or both. Individual red maple trees have either male or female flowers (although some trees may have a few of the other gender). Most of our forest trees pollinate by wind, so it helps with diversity if each tree only has one flower gender, so they do not self-pollinate.
Above: Women wear maple flower jewelry.

Take a close look at a red maple flower to determine the gender. Male flowers have stamens, which look like spikes sticking out of the flower. There will be pollen on the tips of the stamens. Female flowers do not have stamens, instead they have a pistil. At the base of the pistil is where seeds form after pollination from male pollen. Female flowers do not have spikes emerging from them.

There are other trees adding their flower colors to the beautiful spring landscape. Birches with their hanging yellow catkins, sugar maples with their drooping light green flowers, and shadbush flowers in white. Some of my favorite places to see signs of spring are on the West River Trail in Jamaica State Park , from the Island View Trail at Niquette Bay State Park , from the Peacham Bog Trail in Groton State Forest , and from the beautiful beach at Branbury State Park . Visit your favorite park and see the spring foliage on Vermont hills for yourself.

Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
Venture Vermont 2019
Calling Park Performers!
We are still seeking park performers for our 2019 season! If you are a musician, storyteller, birder, crafter, or have another talent that you would like to share with us, let us know! 
2019 Vehicle Season
Passes are Here!

Want to have an entire summer of fun in every Vermont State Park? Then may we suggest a Vehicle Season Pass? Each pass permits up to 8 people in one vehicle entry into any Vermont State Park Day Use Area all season long! Passes are $90 and can be ordered online.

Individual passes ($30) and 10-visit punch passes are also available.

Reel Fun Back for 2019
New Mugs, T-Shirts, and Patches!
New year, new gear! We have expanded our offering of Vermont State Parks patches for featured parks in either orange and black or yellow and green. We also have new travel mugs perfect for sipping your campsite coffee. These are the perfect size to fit in the cup holder of your camp chair or in your car for the morning commute.

Vermont Parks Forever

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
Featured Photographers

Alex Baldor was born and raised in Richmond, Vermont. He developed a passion for photography at a young age and continued to improve as he grew up. He graduated from Mount Mansfield Union High School in June of 2016 and started school at Lyndon State College where he is pursuing a degree in photography.

Thank you for reading the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks!
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"Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is about." John Mayer