General Information about
Groton & Groton State Forest
Owl's Head Mountain from Stillwater State Park entrance
The Recreation material in this website is created by the residents of Groton from material extracted from Vermont State brochures and websites, plus their observations and opinions. It is not a state maintained or sponsored website. More on information sources given below.
The Town of Groton
Groton is described throughout the GrotonVT.com web site and specifically in the section About Groton on that web site.
Groton State Forest
At over 26,000 acres, Groton State Forest is the second largest contiguous land holding by the State of Vermont. This scenic and rugged place is known for its developed camping facilities and it offers a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities including hiking, sightseeing, leaf peeping, biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, hunting, trapping, winter camping, primitive camping, metal detector use, and geocaching. Weddings, family reunions, business picnics, and documentary films have all also taken place here. Though only a half-hour drive from Barre, Montpelier, or St. Johnsbury, Groton State Forest retains a sense of wildness and supports a wide variety of wildlife, including black bear, moose, deer, grouse, mink, beaver, otter, fisher, loons and herons. A variety of fish are found in the clear ponds and brooks.
A year-round trail system connects most major points of interest. Peacham Bog Natural Area (748 acres) contains one of the largest bogs in Vermont and is home to some interesting and unusual plants and animals. The summit of Owls Head Mountain, accessible by trail or the summer road that leads almost to the top, offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area. The exposed bedrock found on Groton's peaks is granite, similar to that found in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The striations in this granite, and the boulders found throughout the park, are evidence of glacial activity that occurred approximately 10,000 years ago. The glaciers scattered and scraped here irregularly, leaving a rough topography with generally poor drainage.
The forest's history is primarily one of intensive logging, beginning in 1873 with the opening of the Montpelier to Wells River railroad that ran through the forest, and ending in the 1920's when most of the timber was cut. Several fires, especially the severe one of 1903, changed the landscape from spruce, fir and pine to the red maple and yellow and white birch we now mostly see. The Civilian Conservation Corps, encamped near Osmore Pond in the 1930's, was responsible for plantations of pine and spruce.
Groton State Forest is the home of 7 Vermont State Parks and it provides a wide variety of year round recreational opportunities as described in the material on this web site.
A view of the forest For a narrative overview of Groton State Forest, read the article Come into the Forest originally written for the Vermont State Parks News and Events Newsletter Website by the Park Ranger at Ricker Pond State Park, Lisa Kirby Crane.
Location The Groton State Forest is located just west of Interstate 91 and the Connecticut River, approximately 50 miles north of White River Junction. The major roads that travel through the Groton State Forest are US Route 302 and VT Route 232. US Route 2 goes along the northwestern edge of the unit.
Maps of the Area
Seyon Lodge on Noyes Pond is a Bed and Breakfast within the State Forest
Groton State Forest Map shows the State Parks, trails and general topography. The map prints easily on 8˝" by 11" paper and is also available at the Nature Center and at State Park entrances in the summer.
Local Services The closest town to most of the State Forest is Groton. For a list of merchants and services adjacent to the park, click here.
Emergency Services In an emergency, dial 911. Click here to view a list of Emergency services in the town of Groton.
Cell phone Service is not currently available in the State Forest or adjacent towns. The closest service is in the vicinity of the P&H Truck Stop at the junction of US Route 302 and Interstate 91, although not all cell phone companies are supported.
Wireless Internet Service is available at and around the Groton Public Library and at Seyon Lodge.
Public Telephones are available at Stillwater State Park, the Forest Store (summer season), Upper Valley Grill & General Store, and at the Marshfield General Store.
Wildlife The Groton State Forest is an excellent area for wildlife viewing. Sixteen species of warblers have been sighted here. Common loons may be seen or heard on the lakes and ponds in this area. Owl’s Head is an excellent place for viewing migrating hawks in late summer and early fall. Most of the state park campgrounds keep lists of wildlife sightings by visitors and have included the above species as well as moose, black bear, coyote, bobcats, and various bird species.
State Parks within Groton State Forest There are seven state parks within Groton State Forest. More information is provided in State Parks within Groton State Forest.
Day Use During their open season, day use fees are collected at the State Parks from users that are not registered at a state park campground or at Seyon Lodge. Day use fees are not collected at Owl's Head, Kettle Pond, or the Groton Nature Center.
Park Season Most of the State Parks in the forest are formally open from Memorial Day to either Labor Day or early October - see the State Park web sites for the actual dates for the specific park of interest. Seyon Lodge State Park is open year round and the State Forest is available for use year round.
Pets Dogs are allowed except at Boulder Beach. They must be restrained and owners are required to show a current vaccination certificate.
Off Season Use at Vermont State Parks from the State Parks Are Open for Winter Recreation: Vermont’s 52 State Parks have operating seasons that range from April through October, and when they’re not in “operating” mode, visitors can still enjoy what parks have to offer. "It's a misconception that you're not supposed to enter state park land when the parks aren't operating," said the Chief of Park Operations, Craig Whipple. "This land belongs to the people of the State of Vermont, they can recreate here any time they wish! During the operating season, we charge a fee for facilities. In the off-season there is no staff and facilities are closed, but people are still welcome to enjoy the parks."" All users should follow the Leave No Trace Principle of carry out what you carry in, using only downed and dead wood for fires, and appropriate locations and techniques for bathrooms. See also Off-Season Camping available November 1 - May 1 .
Additional Facilities managed by the State Parks, including the following:
• Osmore Pond Picnic Area (accessible through New Discovery State Park, and via Osmore Pond Road (unsigned) in the off season.)
• Owl’s Head Lookout (road gated October through May)
• Groton Nature Center (open during summer, parking lot available year round and plowed)
• Overlook on 232, a quarter mile south of Boulder Beach Road (open year round)
Rules and Regulations The complete Vermont State Parks Rules and Regulations is in pdf format.
Any guided use of Groton State Forest and Parks, whether conducted by a for-profit enterprise or as part of a not-for-profit trip (i.e. schools, camps, colleges) must obtain a special use permit or license prior to the trip. For more information, the Forest and Parks District Office(s) should be contacted: Barre (802)476-0170, or St. Johnsbury (802)751-0123.
Junior Ranger Program is available at the State Parks and at the Nature Center. Children complete a Junior Ranger Activity book, attend a Nature Center Program and help the Park staff with a project. After the work is approved by a State Park Ranger, the Junior Ranger receives a special patch. More information is available at the Park entrances and at the Nature Center.
Green Mountain Passports are available for both Vermont residents over 62 years old and for 100% disabled veterans. These provide a lifetime free admission to state parks (including Boulder Beach), museums, and fully state sponsored events. Fee is $2.00 from the Groton Town clerk.
Spring Season Access State Park access and a number of roads in the forest are closed (gated) in the spring time to car access. Such closures generally begin on or around March 15 and last until mid May. This closure is to protect the road surface during the annual spring mud season, and because state park employees are busy opening up the facilities for the summer.
Trails Currently there are approximately 26 miles of designated hiking/foot trails and countless miles of multi-use paths, including forest roads. Most of these trails are available for use year round. Trail uses range from hiking, walking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. For additional information, see the hiking section of this material or the particular use type description and the Groton State Forest Map.
ATVs Public use of ATVs on state lands, roads, and trails is prohibited under state statute.
Water-Based Recreation Within and adjacent to the Forest, there are a number of lakes and ponds and additional information can be found in Ponds and Lakes of Groton State Forest, including information concerning regulations on motorized boat use, boating access, and available fish species.
Source of State Forest Information Much of the material describing the Groton State Forest in this web site has been copied with permission from the Long-Range Management Plan Groton Management Unit produced by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources in September 2006, and the Vermont State Parks' Blog. Source material also include other Agency of Natural Resources documents publicly available. These are included in the list of Vermont State Parks Publications.
Documentation/Brochures relating to Groton State Forest: Some are available at the Nature Center and at the State Park entrances during the summer, and some are available at the Groton Public Library. All brochures are included in the list of Vermont State Parks Publications which are downloadable pdfs. The publications of primary interest to recreation is the Groton Forest Trail Guide which contains the trail descriptions and trail map discussed on this website under Hiking. Some brochures are available on request in large print, Braille and audio tapes.
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