June 20, 2024
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The Very Best Vermont State Parks Camping Destinations

Vermont's State Park System offers a diverse collection of natural sites for outdoor recreation and relaxation. The system includes over 50 state parks spread throughout the scenic Green Mountain State. Popular spots include Mt. Mansfield State Forest, home to Vermont's highest peak, as well as Little River State Park known for its dramatic waterfall views. From mountain hiking and lake swimming to camping and picnicking, Vermont's state parks highlight the state's natural beauty and provide the perfect backdrop for countless outdoor activities.

Maidstone State Park Vermont

Popular Destinations in Vermont's State Parks

Vermont's state park system contains over 50 parks and forests spread throughout the scenic Green Mountain State. From mountain vistas to pristine lake shores, the parks highlight the incredible natural beauty and diversity of Vermont's landscape. Below are some of the most popular state park destinations to explore:

Mt. Mansfield State Forest

The Mt. Mansfield State Forest is centered around Vermont's highest peak at 4,393 feet. It offers excellent hiking trails like the Sunset Ridge Trail ascending to the summit as well as opportunities for backcountry camping and picnicking. The forest provides expansive mountain views and unique alpine tundra ecosystems.

Little River State Park

Little River State Park is known for its dramatic waterfall views. The Little River cascades down several steep rock ledges, producing the gorgeous falls. The park has a network of hiking trails following the river upstream through the forested canyon. Swimming is allowed in selected areas. You can also hike and explore Ricker Basin, a long abandoned Vermont town with a history of Vermont life in earlier days and even a ghost story or two!

Jamaica State Park

Jamaica State Park contains scenic Jamaica State Park Pond perfect for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. The park also features over 20 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and mountain biking during the summer and cross-country skiing in winter. Camping facilities are available.

Waterbury Town Forest

The Waterbury Town Forest consists of over 100 acres of beautiful woodlands criss-crossed by recreation trails. Highlights include Rusty Spring waterfalls, wildlife habitats, and remnants of early historic settlements. Popular activities include hiking, mountain biking, geocaching, and snowshoeing. The Waterbury Reservoir is a popular place to see and visit as well.

Waterbury Reservoir

This is just a small sampling of the scenic state park destinations Vermont has to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you prefer mountain vistas, pristine lakeshores, waterfall chasing, or just exploring quiet forests, Vermont's state parks have an adventure for you. Consider booking a campsite or packing a picnic to fully immerse yourself in the stunning natural settings. With so much beauty and diversity, it's easy to see why Vermont's state parks are treasured destinations.

Recreational Activities in Vermont's State Parks

TownshendVT TownshendStatePark

With over 50 state parks showcasing Vermont's natural beauty and diversity, there is no shortage of outdoor recreational activities to enjoy. Here are some of the top activities and attractions to experience in Vermont's state parks:

Hiking

Hiking is one of the most popular activities in Vermont's state parks thanks to the remote forests, rugged mountains, and sweeping vistas. Top hiking destinations include:

Biking

Mountain biking and road biking are popular through Vermont's state parks. Some top spots include:

Sale
Hiking Vermont: 60 Of Vermont's Greatest Hiking Adventures (State Hiking Guides Series)
  • Pletcher, Larry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages – 05/22/2008 (Publication Date) – Falcon Guides (Publisher)
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Beer Hiking New England: The Tastiest Way to Discover Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island
  • Kish, Carey Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages – 03/07/2023 (Publication Date) – Helvetiq (Publisher)
Day Hiker's Guide to Vermont Exploring the Green Mountain State (Vermont Hiking Trails Series)
  • Detailed trail maps and descriptions
  • Summaries of distance, hiking time, and elevation change
  • Detailed directions to trailheads
  • Listings of Vermont's trail organizations
  • Helpful hiking and equipment tips
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Guide To Vermont Long Trail, Dave Hardy & Matt Krebs, Publisher – Green Mountain 978-1-88021-38-7
  • Long Trails
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages – 01/01/2011 (Publication Date) – GREEN MOUNTAIN CLUB (Publisher)
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AMC's Best Day Hikes in Vermont: Four-Season Guide To 60 Of The Best Trails In The Green Mountain State
  • Roberts, Jen Lamphere (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages – 06/05/2018 (Publication Date) – Appalachian Mountain Club Books (Publisher)
Sale
Explorer's Guide 50 Hikes in Vermont (Explorer's 50 Hikes)
  • W.W. Norton & Co 50 Hikes: Vermont by Lindemann, Hayden, Gmc – 9781581571998
  • Green Mountain Club (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 05/04/2015 (Publication Date) – Countryman Press (Publisher)
Northern Vermont Hiking and Biking Trail
  • Map Adventures Northern Vermont Hike & Bike – 9781890060480
  • Angela Faeth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 2 Pages – 05/21/2019 (Publication Date) – Map Adventures (Publisher)
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Hiking the Green Mountains: A Guide to 40 of the Region's Best Hiking Adventures, Second Edition (Regional Hiking Series)
  • Ballard, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 216 Pages – 05/01/2022 (Publication Date) – Falcon Guides (Publisher)
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Best Hikes with Dogs New Hampshire and Vermont
  • Includes lots of helpful information about hiking with dogs. Black and white photos give you a glimpse at some of the scenery you’ll encounter on the trail. 2005, first edition, 256 pages.
  • Densmore, Lisa (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages – 08/17/2005 (Publication Date) – Mountaineers Books (Publisher)
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Foghorn Outdoors Vermont Hiking: Day Hikes, Kid-Friendly Trails, and Backpacking Treks
  • Author: Jacqueline Tourville
  • ISBN: 9781598805642
  • Lanza, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages – 03/28/2005 (Publication Date) – Rick Steves (Publisher)
Sale
Foghorn Outdoors Vermont Hiking: Day Hikes, Kid-Friendly Trails, and Backpacking Treks
  • Author: Jacqueline Tourville
  • ISBN: 9781598805642
  • Lanza, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages – 03/28/2005 (Publication Date) – Rick Steves (Publisher)
Sale
Foghorn Outdoors Vermont Hiking: Day Hikes, Kid-Friendly Trails, and Backpacking Treks
  • Author: Jacqueline Tourville
  • ISBN: 9781598805642
  • Lanza, Michael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 200 Pages – 03/28/2005 (Publication Date) – Rick Steves (Publisher)

Swimming & Boating

Many state parks offer pristine places to swim, boat, and fish including:

Camping

Pitch a tent or park your RV at these scenic state park campgrounds:

Winter Sports

When the snow falls, Vermont's state parks become a winter wonderland perfect for:

  • Downhill and cross-country skiing
  • Snowshoeing on scenic trails
  • Ice fishing on frozen lakes and ponds
  • Sledding hills and snow tubing

Whether you love hiking mountain peaks, pedaling along rivers, paddling across ponds, camping under the stars, or playing in powdery snow, Vermont's state parks offer an incredible diversity of outdoor recreation all year round. Immerse yourself in the natural landscapes while creating unforgettable memories.

Notable Features of Vermont's State Parks

Vermont's extensive state park system protects over 150,000 acres of scenic Green Mountain landscapes. From mountain summits to lake shores, waterfalls to historic sites, the parks showcase the incredible diversity of Vermont's natural and cultural heritage. Here are some standout features that make Vermont's state parks special:

Diverse Landscapes and Ecosystems

Vermont's state parks contain a wide variety of ecosystems and geological features across their different locations including:

  • Alpine tundra – Found only on the highest mountain summits like Mount Mansfield and Camel's Hump. This rare habitat features low-growing shrubs and wildflowers.
  • Northern hardwood forests – Dominated by maple, birch, and beech trees covering many of Vermont's mountains and valleys.
  • Wetlands – Marshes, bogs, and fens found throughout the parks providing habitats for unique flora and fauna.
  • Cliffs and gorges – Rugged cliffs with stunning overlooks and steep gorges carved by rivers over time like Little River State Park‘s dramatic falls.

Scenic Lakes and Rivers

Pristine lakes and rivers shape many of Vermont's parks including:

Historic Sites

Vermont state parks protect historic villages, covered bridges, and other sites like:

Old Stone House Museum

The incredible diversity of Vermont's state parks allows you to experience mountains, forests, wetlands, cliffs, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, historic settlements, and more while protecting these treasures for future generations. The parks showcase the natural beauty and rich heritage that makes Vermont so special.

Seasonal Considerations for Visiting Vermont's State Parks

Vermont's state parks offer recreational opportunities year-round, but the seasons each have their own unique charm. Here's an overview of activities and highlights during spring, summer, fall, and winter in Vermont's state parks:

Spring

Spring is a great time to visit Vermont state parks to enjoy:

  • Hiking and mountain biking on muddy trails as the snow melts
  • Fishing for stocked trout in streams and rivers
  • Experiencing maple sugaring demonstrations and tours
  • Seeing spring wildflowers like trillium bloom across the forest floor
  • Spotting newborn wildlife like deer fawns and bear cubs

Popular spring events include maple festivals and seasonal camping openings. The parks are less crowded than summer with cool, crisp weather.

Summer

Summer is peak season with long days to enjoy activities like:

  • Swimming and boating on lakes and ponds
  • Camping in tents or RVs at campgrounds
  • Attending interpretive programs and guided hikes
  • Playing games and sports in open fields
  • Joining the Junior Ranger program for kids

The summer weather is perfect for being outdoors exploring Vermont's parks.

Fall

Fall brings splendid transformations to Vermont's state parks:

  • Vibrant fall foliage colors throughout the forests
  • Crisp air and scenic vistas unobstructed by leaves
  • Excellent birdwatching for migrating species
  • Cool nights perfect for camping
  • Hiking to catch fall views from mountain summits

Popular events include foliage festivals and photography workshops.

Winter

In the winter, Vermont's state parks become stunning frozen wonderlands for:

  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on groomed trails
  • Downhill skiing and riding at nearby resorts like Stowe
  • Ice fishing on frozen lakes and ponds
  • Snowmobiling on designated routes
  • Snow tubing hills at some parks

Many parks have groomed Nordic trails with ski rentals available. The snow-covered landscape is incredibly scenic for winter recreation.

Vermont state parks truly offer an all-season playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Experience the state's natural beauty year-round whether hiking spring wildflowers, swimming in summer lakes, catching fall colors, or skiing fresh winter snow. Discover your perfect season to explore Vermont's treasured parks.

Nearby Attractions to Vermont's State Parks

Vermont's state parks showcase incredible natural beauty from mountain peaks to sparkling lakes. In addition to the parks themselves, there are many excellent attractions located near the parks to make your Vermont vacation even more enjoyable. Here are some top nearby attractions not to miss:

Ben & Jerry's Factory Tour

The famous Ben & Jerry's Factory in Waterbury offers 30-minute guided tours to see how they produce their ice cream. You can sample flavors at the end! It's just minutes from:

Covered Bridges

Stowe Brookdale Covered Bridge

Vermont has over 100 picturesque covered bridges like Gold Brook Covered Bridge nearby:

Ski Resorts

In winter, Vermont's ski resorts like Stowe and Stratton offer downhill skiing near:

Local Villages

Visit quaint Vermont villages like Bristol near:

Farmers Markets

Stop by local farmers markets at locations near:

Experience Vermont's charm by combining a state park visit with the region's tastiest ice cream, historic covered bridges, premier skiing, cozy villages, farmers markets, and more!

Planning Your Visit to Vermont's State Parks

With over 50 state parks showcasing Vermont's natural beauty, planning your visit is essential to make the most of your time. Here are some key tips for planning a great state park adventure:

Park Fees & Passes

  • Most parks require a daily entry fee per vehicle ranging $5-$10.
  • Consider an annual pass if visiting multiple parks:

Lodging & Camping

  • Reserve campsites in advance, especially in peak season. Options range from tent sites to cabins.
  • Stay in nearby towns and villages if seeking hotel accommodations.

Dining

  • Consider packing a picnic lunch and snacks to enjoy in the parks.
  • Many parks have small concession stands for snacks and light fare.
  • Nearby towns offer a variety of restaurants from diners to upscale farm-to-table eateries.

Accessibility

  • Review accessibility guidelines if needed.
  • Some parks offer accessible trails, campsites, and facilities.
  • Contact the park directly with accessibility questions when planning your visit.

Pet Policies

  • Pets are welcome in Vermont State Parks but must be leashed at all times.
  • Ask about pet-friendly trails and designated areas when you arrive.
  • Never leave pets unattended or tethered at campsites.

Maps & Guides

  • Download park trail maps online to plan your hiking routes.
  • Check online event calendars or park bulletins for guided activities.
  • Stop at the ranger station or visitor center when you arrive for the latest updates.

With some advance planning, you'll be ready to make the most of your Vermont state park visit creating memories that will last a lifetime! Explore the natural beauty at your own pace while following park guidelines.

The Importance of Vermont's State Parks

Mount Philo Vermont Views of Lake Champlain

Vermont's extensive state park system protects over 150,000 acres of the Green Mountain State's most precious natural and cultural resources. These state parks play a vital role in both conservation and recreation. Here's an overview of why Vermont's state parks are so valuable:

Preserving Natural Spaces

The state parks conserve invaluable natural habitats and ecosystems including:

  • Rare alpine tundra above treeline on Vermont's highest peaks
  • Pristine lakes and rivers that provide habitats for aquatic life
  • Vast northern hardwood forests filled with maple, birch, and other deciduous trees
  • Wetlands that filter water and provide biodiversity

Without the parks, many of these lands would be lost to logging, development, and other uses. The parks provide refuge for countless plant and animal species.

Protecting Cultural Heritage

Many state parks contain important historic and cultural sites such as:

These sites preserve Vermont's unique heritage for future generations to discover.

Providing Recreational Opportunities

The parks offer countless ways to enjoy Vermont's natural beauty including:

  • Hiking, mountain biking, and skiing on scenic wooded trails
  • Swimming, boating, and fishing on pristine lakes and rivers
  • Camping under the stars surrounded by forests
  • Spotting moose, bears, and other wildlife in their natural habitats

These recreational opportunities connect people to nature and promote appreciation of Vermont's special wild places.

In summary, Vermont's state parks conserve natural and cultural treasures, provide habitats for plants and animals, and give people access to outdoor experiences. They protect the Green Mountain State's natural legacy while offering recreation, education, and inspiration to all who visit. Vermont's state parks are an invaluable gift to be cherished now and for future generations.

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