“Hike in Old Growth Forests”
With its location at the base of Killington and Pico peaks and close proximity to the Appalachian and Long trails, this park is a favorite of hikers. Many through-hikers pass the park on their Appalachian Trail journey from Georgia to Maine. The park is also a popular destination during the fall foliage season for its dramatic autumn colors. Established in 1931 when the state purchased 13 acres of land from Lee Pearsons, the park grew over the next two decades with a land donation from Walter K. Barrows and various land purchases. Mr. Barrows noticed that many passing motorists stopped at the spot to admire the large old trees growing on his property and decided that it should be protected by adding it to the newly established state park. Today, Gifford Woods contains one of the few old-growth hardwood tree stands remaining in Vermont. The stand has many grand-sized sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, white ash and hemlock. The understory is rich with native wildflowers. In 1978, seven acres of forest in this area was designated the Gifford Woods Natural Area. An additional 13 acres was designated as Gifford Woods National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1980 because of the exemplary quality of the old-growth forest. To preserve the natural state of the Natural Area, no trails or development of any kind is permitted. Development of Gifford Woods State Park began in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a nation-wide public works program created during the Great Depression of the 1930’s to provide jobs and training for thousands of unemployed Americans. In 1933 and 1934, CCC crews constructed the park office and ranger’s quarters, picnic area, stone restroom building, trails, the park entrance and parking area. In 1939 the CCC constructed a camping area. A new section was added to the campground in 1959. The park continued to grow throughout the 20th Century, and reached its current size of 285 acres in 2003, when 171 non-contiguous acres were acquired from the Green Mountain Club to protect the Long Trail corridor. The town of Killington was chartered on July 7, 1761. Settlers to the Killington area were primarily subsistence farmers, raising crops and tending sheep in the valleys. Logging and milling were the prevalent industries in the area, with several saw and grist mills established. Tourism had its beginnings in Killington quite early. The first tourist resort at Killington was built in 1880, well before the region was developed as a ski resort. The original Summit House accommodated hikers and naturalists that came to Killington for the fantastic summit views. Most of the local families that remained in the area rented out boarding rooms to tourists, and a number of small inns and hotels were scattered around the town. There are 4 cabins, 22 tent/trailer sites and 20 lean-to sites situated in two camping loops. Each loop has a rest room with modern plumbing and hot showers ($). There is a trailer sanitary station, but no hookups. Fire and ice are available for sale. A wooded picnic area is located behind the ranger's quarters with a play area. Day hikes are available and there is an easy hook up with the Appalachian Trail.
Beautiful state park with tent sites, lean-to's and cabins right along the Appalachian trail! Perfectly situated for hiking, mountain biking, and exploring killington! Also right across the road from a great fishing/canoeing/kayaking pond! No swimming unfortunately but the rangers can point you to dozens of local swimming spots!
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Gifford Woods State Forest Park
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