Vermont is the second least-populated state in the US. It has a rich indigenous history, as Amerindians have lived in the area for more than 12,000 years. When Europeans first arrived in the Americas, two Native American tribes were present on Vermont’s land: the Mohawk and the Abenaki.
Vermont has no official national parks. Instead, it features a national park service site, the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. This historical park is described as one of the true beauties of the state. You can also discover some 55 state parks that let you fully explore Vermont during your stay here!
If you’re planning to visit the Green Mountain State, you should know which parks to see, right? Well, rest assured, We have everything covered. Here are the 9 best national and state parks that you can find in Vermont!
1. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
|Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park|
|Location||Woodstock, Windsor County|
|Animals to spot||White-tailed deer, fishers, painted turtles, barred owls|
|Attractions to see||Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Mansion, The Belvedere, Forest Center|
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park was designated to preserve the Marsh-Billings House, the dairy farm, and the managed forest established by F. Billings. The park’s visitor’s center should be the start of your journey. From there, you can explore the George Perkins Marsh Boyhood Home. It showcases Late Victorian architecture and shelters a significant collection of landscape paintings.
The historic park has over 20 miles of trails that lead you through mountains, pastures, and the woodlands. Some trails include carriage roads, in case you prefer horseback exploration.
The woodland workshops represent one of the park’s main attractions. These are regularly organized and allow you to explore the area’s woodland flora and fauna, alongside woodworking. A workshop in the woods will teach you how to identify trees, track animals, control plants, and keep a hiking trail clean.
2. Smugglers’ Notch State Park
|Smugglers’ Notch State Park|
|Location||Near Stowe, Lamoille County|
|Animals to spot||Bald eagles, Canada geese, red-tailed hawks, juncos, chickadees|
|Attractions to see||Bingham Falls, Mount Mansfield, Wiessner Woods, Sterling Pond Trail, Sterling Gorge Falls|
Smugglers’ Notch State Park is different from other national and state parks as it can be found at an elevation of 2,119 feet. The British used this area to avoid the Embargo Act and import products to Canada – hence the name Smugglers’ Notch.
This state park can be found in the Green Mountains. The Long Trail allows you to traverse all five major peaks of the Green Mountains. Other popular hikes are the Sterling Pond Trail and the Hell Brook Trail.
Smugglers’ Notch State Park is the ideal destination for fans of adrenaline-fuelled activities. Here you can enjoy a session of ice climbing or bouldering or go cave exploring with your group. The 1000-foot tall cliffs that the park stands on provide astonishing views over the surrounding areas.
3. Camel’s Hump State Park
|Camel’s Hump State Park|
|Location||Northern Green Mountains|
|Animals to spot||300 species of animals; 10 species of rare animals|
|Attractions to see||Burrows Trail, Camel’s Hump, Burnt Rock Mountain Trail, primitive camping|
Camel’s Hump State Park is the largest in Vermont. It is located in the northern part of the Green Mountains, near Waterbury. The main attraction of this state park is its mountain, called Camel’s Hump. It is the third highest mountain in the state, standing at an elevation of 4,085 feet. The summit has a surface area of around 10 acres that visitors can explore.
This state park is a pristine natural location. It features no facilities for visitors, but it can be accessed and explored by anyone. The most accessible trail that you can take is the Camel’s Hump View Trail. It’s only 0.8 miles long and allows you to see the summit.
Camel’s Hump is a part of the Long Trail that runs across the entire state of Vermont. Camping is limited within the parking area. Primitive camping is allowed if it’s done at lower elevations and far away from interest points.
4. Gifford Woods State Park
|Gifford Woods State Park|
|Location||At the base of Pico Peak, Killington|
|Animals to spot||White-tailed deer, coyote, porcupine, skunk, black bear|
|Attractions to see||Thundering Falls Trail, Kent Pond|
Gifford Woods State Park is the ideal choice for a day spent in the woods. Here you can go camping, have a picnic, and even fish if you have the gear. Like any other state park in the U.S., it also features hiking trails. A part of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park. There are 22 campsites, four rental cabins, and 21 lean-tos.
The park’s flora is the main reason why you should visit Gifford Woods State Park. Here you can find old-growth hardwood trees like beech, sugar maple, white ash, and hemlock. Plenty of native wildflowers can be admired in the right seasons.
Autumn is clearly the perfect season to visit this state park. Nothing compares to the golden-brown foliage that adorns the forest floor.
5. Quechee State Park
|Quechee State Park|
|Location||Quechee, Windsor County|
|Animals to spot||White-tailed deer, coyote, beaver, otter, ruffed grouse, fox|
|Attractions to see||Quechee Gorge, Simon Pearce Mill, Wilderness Trails, Vermont Institute of Natural Science|
Quechee State Park is owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The army acquired the park’s land to better implement a regional flood control plan. The 688-acre park allows for camping, swimming, picnicking, hiking, and fishing. Wildlife enthusiasts can find plenty of animal and plant species.
The state park’s main attraction is the Quechee Gorge. It was formed by intense glacial activity 13,000 years ago. Visitors can explore most of the gorge. They can park on the nearby bridge or hike through the gorge itself. If you want a more accessible trail with similar astonishing views, we recommend the Dam Trail.
6. Little River State Park
|Little River State Park|
|Location||Waterbury Reservoir, Waterbury|
|Animals to spot||Broad-winged hawk, northern goshawk, red-tailed hawk, white-tailed deer, black-capped chickadee|
|Attractions to see||Trapp Family Lodge Center, Gold Brook Covered Bridge, recreational activities|
Little River State Park is a campground located on the Waterbury Reservoir and in the Mount Mansfield State Forest. This park is the state’s largest campground. It is also the most popular, mainly thanks to its 81 tent and trailer sites; it provides great opportunities for camping.
This state park was once the home of a large community of farmers. Harsh weather and living conditions led people out of the area. Explorers can find town roads, cemeteries, bridges, a sawmill, and cellar holes from that period using the Little River History Hike.
Little River State Park has numerous self-guided trails that introduce you to the park’s historical and natural heritage.
7. Mt. Philo State Park
|Mt. Philo State Park|
|Location||Charlotte, Chittenden County|
|Animals to spot||White-tailed deer, coyote, skunk, woodchuck, woodcock, woodpeckers|
|Attractions to see||Birds of Vermont Museum, Shelburne Farms,|
Mt. Philo State Park was designated to protect the area around Mt. Philo. Thanks to its elevation, this state park provides views over Lake Champlain, the Adirondack Mountains, the Green Mountains, and Camel’s Hump. You can access the park only via a trail or a narrow seasonal road.
Multiple hiking trails cover all the areas from the base to the top of the summit. One of the park’s main attractions is a mountaintop picnic area. Here you can take a small break and enjoy the fresh air and the serene surroundings.
September and November are the best months to visit this state park as a birdwatcher. At that time, migrating raptors can be easily seen above and around the summit.
8. Elmore State Park
|Elmore State Park|
|Location||Elmore, Lamoille County|
|Animals to spot||Black scoter, osprey, snow bunting, black bear, coyote, red-tailed hawk, raccoon, American toad|
|Attractions to see||Moss Glen Falls, Stowe Recreation Path,|
Elmore State Park includes both Elmore Mountain and Lake Elmore, which are its most popular attractions. Lake Elmore has a surface area of 219 acres while Elmore Mountain rises from the shore of the lake and has an elevation of 2,608 feet.
Visitors of this state park can enjoy a sizable campground with 15 lean-tos and 44 tent and RV sites. Numerous trails lead to the top of the mountain and to another popular tourist attraction – the fire tower. If you plan a summer holiday here, sandy beaches await you, as well as a fully-equipped beach house.
Elmore State Park is nearby several historic sites, such as Trapp Family Lodge, gondolas, and an alpine slide.
9. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
|Appalachian National Scenic Trail|
|Location||Ridge of Southern Green Mountains|
|Length||2,200 miles (161 miles in Vermont)|
|Animals to spot||Moose, deer, coyotes, porcupines, raccoons, bobcats|
In Vermont, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail goes through almost all of the national and state parks above. It is the longest hike-only trail in the world. The scenic trail introduces travelers to the sights, wildlife, and beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. The Long Trail is an extension of the Appalachian Trail.
Passing through Vermont, the Appalachian Scenic Trail crosses Bromley and Stratton peaks, as well as Killington Mountain. Multiple shelters can be found on the trail’s footpath – Winturri Shelter, Thistle Hill Shelter, and Stony Brook Shelter.
The Appalachian Scenic Trail is easily accessible from the most popular state parks in Vermont. If you’re a hiking enthusiast, you can walk the 100-mile path shared by the Appalachian and the Long Trail without leaving Vermont.