November 2019
A view of Mt. Mansfield at sunset.
Greetings Everyone,
Welcome to the new edition of the Vermont State Parks newsletter. November is the time when we here at state parks have a chance to regroup, assess the previous summer season and make plans for changes in the operations and services so we can be more efficient and effective, giving you all the high quality experiences you want. We have a fun, engaged and passionate team that eagerly looks forward to making us better in all sorts of ways.

As we reflect on our work, though, we are always struck by how grateful we are for you, the loyal followers of Vermont State Parks. Your love of these special places and the memories you have shared with us are what motivate us to work hard every day. Thank you. And we should all be eternally grateful to those who came before us and built this 95-year-old state park legacy we have inherited. We, today, have the benefit of enjoying the fruits of their vision and determination. They would certainly be happy that so many of you appreciate their efforts. So please get out there as often as you can and enjoy!
See you out there!

Craig Whipple , Director of Vermont State Parks
New Adventures Waiting to Be Unwrapped
Wish you were outside instead of trying to find holiday gifts for your loved ones? Easy! Give an unforgettable outdoor experience and comfortable adventure gear. Our holiday packages come pre-wrapped and ready to give, are available online and shipping is FREE. We have packages for every kind of adventurer. Which one are you?
For the Day Tripper ($69) Give a taste of the outdoors! This package contains a punch card good for 10 state park day visits, a notebook and pen set, and a Vermont State Parks dry bag. 
For the Weekend Warrior ($99) Give 2 nights of tent, lean-to or RV camping in a state park, a coupon for a free armload of firewood, 2 Vermont State Parks wine tumblers and an LED lantern.
For the Whole Family ($165) Unlock an entire season of adventure! This package includes 1 season vehicle pass, good for entry into any Vermont State Parks day use area for up to 8 people in a vehicle all season long, two 1-hour boat rental coupons, a collapsible picnic basket and a fold-up picnic blanket. 
Looking for stocking stuffers or want to build your own gift set?  You're in luck! 

We have:
  • 2020 punch cards, individual and vehicle passes
  • coffee mugs
  • water bottles
  • hats
  • flashlights
  • patches
  • t-shirts
  • and more!
Outdoor Observer: Quill Pigs
To the right: A porcupine scuttling through the woods.

I’ve been seeing lots of porcupines lately  while wandering in the woods, watching the movement of white- tailed deer and the changing of seasons here in Vermont. Evening visits to Gifford Woods State Park and Allis State Park are overlapping with porcupine activity more and more.

Porcupines don’t vanish out of view quickly like coyotes or other nocturnal animals. I frequently see them because they are not in a hurry to get away from me; they waddle along very slowly. Their defense is not speed or agility, but the prickly quills garnishing their backsides. If you have experienced a curious dog and a close porcupine encounter, you already know why I sweep the trail ahead of me carefully with a bright headlamp during evening walks in porcupine territory. I don’t want to find out how it feels to take a shin full of barbed porcupine quills.

There is one porcupine I have been seeing regularly on my favorite walking loop. The very first encounter resulted in the porcupine quickly scurrying up a tree, and me snapping photos of it as it tried to get high above my head. A few evenings later, I came upon this same porcupine. When it saw my bright light, it wedged itself between two large sugar maples, with its quill-covered behind facing me. It’s pretty amazing to see the adaptations animals have for self-preservation.
Above: Click to hear a porcupine mating call!

Speaking of self-preservation, this is an especially interesting time of year for porcupines because it is mating season. This is the one time of year you can hear the animals vocalize. In the darkness they make loud grunts, cries, and squeaks. It can be pretty spooky to hear their noises drift over the dark woods, until you make out the large lump of an arboreal porcupine and discover where the mysterious noise is coming from. The large rodents mate this time of year, and single baby porcupines are born in May or June.

In summer porcupines eat leaves, twigs, and plants such as skunk cabbage and clover. In winter months, they chew through thick bark on trees and eat the cambium layer of the tree. Cambium is a layer under tree bark, the living part of a winter tree, and the portion of the tree that creates all new growth. Cambium is nutrient rich and is a concentrated food source during a time of year when there is not much available food for vegetarians like porcupines. They prefer to feed on pine, fir, cedar, and hemlock trees. Look for large irregular patches of bark stripped from tree trunks with lots of rodent tooth marks.

Porcupines also seek out salt, which can be detrimental to your tools or outhouses. Salt from human perspiration is absorbed into wooden tool handles, so put away that rake or axe—if you leave them out, they could become a porcupine snack. Outhouses have also been known to become victims of hungry porcupines.

Rebecca Roy, Conservation Education Coordinator
Thankful for 1,000,000 visitors
Thank you everyone for your support! We had over 1,000,000 visitors this year, making it the seventh time in parks history for us to reach this milestone.

Trivia: Do you know what other years parks had over 1,000,000 visitors?
4 Hikes to Help You Fight Your Food Coma
To the left: A stream in Groton State Forest - L. Pellegrino

Ready to walk off that Thanksgiving food coma, but don’t quite know what trail to hit? We’ve got you covered. These trails are picked for their breathtaking beauty, not their steep inclines. Put on your walking shoes and come join us!

Osmore Pond Loop Trail, Groton State Forest, Peacham. Beginning at the Osmore Pond picnic shelter, this easy trail covers 2 miles over 2 hours. This trail veers away from the pond’s edge to meet the Little Dear Trail before continuing over Hosmer Brook and to the trail junction.

Closest off-season parking - Northern Parking Area in Groton.

Allen Trail, Niquette Bay State Park, Colchester. One of many family-friendly hikes through Niquette Bay, the Allen Trail  covers 0.50 miles over 15 mins or so. You can easily make your hike longer by adding on one of the many trails that it intersects.

Closest off-season parking: Standard parking area. Gate is open, parking area is plowed, and port-a-lets are provided in parking lot.
Kettle Pond Loop, Kettle Pond State Park, Groton State Forest, Groton. This 3-mile loop takes about 2.5 hours going around the secluded Kettle Pond. The trail leaves from the Kettle Pond parking lot. Want a beautiful view of Kettle Pond but not the 3-mile hike? 0.2 miles in, a portage trail to the left ends at a dock on the pond for a peaceful view. Stay right for the loop trail, although take caution as the far end can be rocky and wet.

Closest off-season parking: Standard parking area.
Reservoir Loop Trail, Woodford State Park, Woodford. This 2.4-mile loop goes around the reservoir and campground. The eastern half is wooded, while the western half skirts the reservoir for waterfront views. This trail can be accessed from the day use area parking lot or at several junctions throughout the campground road.

Closest off-season parking: The north side of Route 9 across from the main park entrance.

Sunset Trail, Fort Dummer State Park, Guilford. This gently sloping 0.5-mile loop trail on the western side of the park starts near the entrance and loops through the play field. The trail passes through an old town road and the remains of the Boyden Farm can be seen including stone walls, a small shed, and the farmhouse.

Closest off-season parking: Access at the main gate. Please do not block the snow plow turnaround or the gate.
Off-Season 101: What To Know Before You Go
To the left: A family goes tubing at Mt. Philo

Parks are great places to go for skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding, fat biking, snowmobiling and more. What are some basics to know?

No facilities or services available: restrooms, running water, etc. Carry in and carry out everything that you bring with you.

Please park only in a manner that allows access by others and please drive only on established roadways or parking areas. This means that when a gate is closed, park outside without blocking, and walk in. In winter, plowed parking is available in certain locations.   List of winter access areas can be found here. 

Park staff are only present sporadically during the off-season. Notice anything wrong or out of the ordinary like vandalism, inappropriate facility use, or something else? Please report it to

Off-season camping is free and available from November 1st through April 15th, and has an additional set of rules. Please request an online permit at least 3 days prior to going in.    Learn more about off-season camping and request a permit here.
Reconnect with What Matters
While end of year celebrations often revolve around cooking, this doesn't mean you need to feel like you're living in a pressure cooker. Holiday logistics can add stress to our already   hectic lives. Holidays should be a time for taking a step back from the stresses of everyday life and reconnecting with what matters. This Black Friday we encourage you to put down the shopping bags, take a deep breath, and #GetOutside .

Spend time together in a beautiful natural setting, whether by going for a nature walk, hiking, biking, birding or just enjoying the view. All our parks will offer FREE admission on Black Friday (and the rest of the off season too)!

How will you #GetOutside? Share pictures of your adventures this Black Friday. Post them to our Facebook page, Twitter feed, or Instagram, and tag them #GetOutside and @VtStateParks. By sharing your photo, you'll have the opportunity to win a 2020 Vermont State Parks punch pass!

Most importantly: mark your calendars and on Black Friday, remember to #GetOutside.
Share your pictures!
We love to see your Vermont State Parks adventures! Post them on our Facebook page or share them with #vtstateparks on Instagram or Twitter
In this season of Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for the many Vermonters that helped get their neighbors into the parks!  Each year, generous donors provide access to Vermont’s beautiful state parks for hundreds of Vermonters, including foster families, young students, and those with limited mobility. Many of the Vermonters who benefit from donations to Vermont Parks Forever’s Park Access Fund would not otherwise have the chance to experience all that our state parks offer. 
One of over 200 adaptive kayaking lake trips launched this summer with the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association at Waterbury Reservoir.
Foster children exploring nature at Emerald Lake State Park through the use of the 150 parks passes funded by you!
Featured Photographer
Kevin Oulundsen grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut before coming to Vermont to pursue a Graphic Design degree at Champlain College. Before completing his degree, he took time off to visit Lake Tahoe, California. While there he spent time skiing, mountain biking, and climbing. 

Thank you for reading the official newsletter of Vermont State Parks!
Vermont State Parks | 1 (888) 409-7579 | |

"Make choices that bring love and joy to your body. It's not about perfection; it's about love and gratitude for an amazing body that works hard and deserves your respect." - Alysia Reiner