Trails in Groton State Forest


Groton State Forest has many miles of marked trails plus numerous logging roads.  Trail uses range from hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.   The shared-use or multi-use paths in Groton State Forest are located mainly on the forest roads (graveled surface roads).  The primary multi-use trail is the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail, which is 12 miles long and bisects the length of Groton State Forest.  It is also part of the Cross Vermont Trail


The VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) trail system throughout the Forest is extensive and is also used by other trail and recreational activities in the summer and fall. 


The old telephone corridor between New Discovery State Park and Boulder Beach Road is also a nonmotorized multi-use trail under construction.


Trail Map:  Trails are shown on the Groton State Forest Map.  The map indicates the use intended for each trail.

  Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail during the Foliage Race



Trail Markings:  Hiking trails are blazed with blue paint and horses and mountain bikes are not allowed on these trails.  Multi-use trails are blazed with yellow paint.


Parking:  In the summer and fall, parking is generally not a problem.  There are parking lots at the State Park locations plus at some of the trail heads as indicated in the trail descriptions below and on the Groton State Forest Map.



Hiking Trails:  The following material generally describes hiking trails.  Additional information, such as trail head descriptions, are provided in the Hiking section.


Short Hikes:  The best short hike is to drive to the Owl’s Head parking lot and take the 15 minute hike up to the top of Owl’s Head – great views.  The Nature Center Trails (see below) are easy hikes – flat and short walks in the woods. The Railroad Bed (Trail Number 12 below) is easy and level and there are several access points (Ricker Pond State Park, Boulder Beach Road, Route 232 near Kettle Pond).    


Trail Descriptions:  The descriptions below are taken from the “Groton State Forest Guide” pamphlet which is available at the Nature Center, and State Parks during their seasons.  They are also available at the Groton Public Library.   Except where indicated, the distances are for one way travel.  Additional comments have been added to the descriptions in the form of “Notes.” 


Nature Center Loop Trails

Note that there is a new (2014) trail map "Groton Nature Center Area Trails" which shows the trails in that area and describes a number of loop hikes from the Nature Center.  Click here to display that work.

The Nature Trail is a 0.6 mile self-guided walk through diverse woods. Brochures are available at the Nature Center or from the ranger station. Notes: Trail is marked with blue and red blazes.

Little Loop Trail is a 0.9 mile unguided trail. Trail is marked with two blue blazes. (See Trail Number 13 below)  Both trails are easy.

Notes: The Nature Center is open seasonally and there is free parking throughout the year.  Nature programs, including hikes, are held during the summer.



      1. Big Deer Mt. Trail from New Discovery State Park (1.7 miles, 1 hour) This easy trail passes through the forest and climbs up to scenic vistas. From New Discovery State Park Loop B, turn left onto road to Peacham Pond. After 0.3 mile, trail leaves the road amid a red pine plantation.  Trail is fairly level for most of its distance but climbs steeply from trail junction (1.1 mile) to ridge top. Views include Peacham Pond, Peacham Bog and the White Mts.  (Elevation Change: 1746ft –1992ft) 

Notes: access the trail from the New Discovery State Park (day use fee for those not staying at state park campgrounds) Memorial Day – Labor Day.  In the fall, there is free access from the Osmore Pond parking area (unmarked road between white Ranger house on VT Route 232 at New Discovery and the Maintenance Shop). 


2. New Discovery Campground to Osmore Pond Trail  (0.5 mile, 1/2 hour) Trail starts from New Discovery State Park Loop B next to bathhouse then travels downhill, passing through spruce-fir stand and an old fuelwood logging area on its way to the pond. Here, the trail joins the Osmore Pond Hiking Loop. (Elev. Chg.: 1746ft-1456ft) 

Notes: New Discovery Campground accessible (day use fee for those not staying at state park campgrounds) Memorial Day – Labor Day.  Other times it is gated.


3. Osmore Pond Hiking Loop (2 miles, 2 hours) This scenic loop begins at the Osmore Pond picnic shelter then travels south veering away from the pond edge. It passes under a power line just before the junction with the Little Deer Trail (0.6 mile). Continuing around the pond, the trail crosses Hosmer Brook and heads north to the trail junction. At the north end of pond, trail may be wet before meeting the trail from New Discovery Campground. From here, trail follows the pond back to the picnic shelter. (Elev. Chg.: 1456ft – 1477ft)

Notes: Access the Osmore Pond picnic shelter via the New Discovery State Park entrance (day use fee for those not staying at state park campgrounds) Memorial Day – Labor Day.  In the fall, access via the unmarked road between the white Ranger house on VT Route 232 at New Discovery and the Maintenance Shop on VT Route 232.


4. Little Deer Trail (0.5 miles, 1/2 hour) Leaves south end of Osmore Pond Hiking Loop (0.6 miles from shelter). Trail follows a power line for a short distance before heading uphill, steeply at times, to a ridge top. Good views of Lake Groton and surrounding mountains. (Elev. Chg.: 1456ft –1760ft)

Notes: See notes under 3, Osmore Pond Hiking Loop above.


5. Big Deer Mt. Trail (from Osmore Pond Hiking Loop) (0.9 miles, 3/4 hour) Starts at the intersection of the hiking loop and Hosmer Brook Trail. Climbs steeply, then descends to cross a marshy area before joining the trail from New Discovery, to ascend to the top for several scenic vistas. (Elev. Chg.: 1456ft – 1992ft)

Notes: See notes under 3, Osmore Pond Hiking Loop above.


6. Hosmer Brook Trail (1.9 miles, 1 hour) This moderate trail winds through woods and by a quiet stream. Some rocky sections. Starts on the road to Boulder Beach just west of Big Deer Campground and ascends gradually.  Midway, the trail begins to follow the brook. Trail ends shortly after leaving the brookside at the junction of the Osmore Pond Hiking Loop and Big Deer Mt. Trail. (Elev. Chg.: 1086ft –1456ft)

Notes:  This trail was altered to start at the Nature Center and branches off of the Little Loop Trail.   Trail is marked with blue and green blazes.


7. Coldwater Brook Trail (1.9 miles, 1 hour) A moderate trail through diverse woods.  Some rocky sections at the upper end of the trail. Starts at the Nature Center parking lot, climbs embankment, then travels on flat terrain following the brook. Crosses Peacham Bog Trail (0.4 mile) and turns left, ascending gradually.  (Elev. Chg.: 1086ft – 1575ft) Trail is marked with orange and blue blazes.


8. Owls Head Trail  (1.5 miles, 1 hour)  An easy walk to a scenic vista of Lake Groton, Kettle Pond and the Green Mountains. Trail starts off the road from New Discovery to the Osmore Pond scenic area. Level to intermediate terrain. Bypassing a swampy area, trail descends and then climbs to parking lot. The trail to the top continues to the left, following the rock steps of a path built by the CCC in the 1930’s. (Elev. Chg.: 1746ft – 1958ft)

Notes: See notes under 3, Osmore Pond Hiking Loop above regarding access to Osmore Pond.


9. Kettle Pond Trail  (3 miles, 21/2 hours) This moderate walk goes around a secluded lake. Trail leaves the parking lot off VT Route 232. The trail divides at a short distance (0.2 mile), and goes to a dock at the water's edge.  At the intersection, stay right for the loop trail.  At the far end and south side of the pond, the trail is rocky and wet. Ends at Kettle Pond Group Camping Area. (Elev. Chg.: 1443ft –1477ft)


10. Peacham Bog Loop Trail  (4.5 miles, 3.5 hours) A moderate hike through diverse woods with an opportunity to view Peacham Bog and a beaver dam. The trail can be accessed by hiking the Little Loop Trail, which begins at comer of Nature Center parking lot. The trail crosses a gravel road and heads east for two miles to a viewing platform on the edge of Peacham Bog.

Caution: The bog is fragile. Please make your impact as light as possible and stay on the trail. After the bog, you will take a right on a dirt road which will eventually turn to trail again, heading westward until it reconnects with the gravel road. Take a right and follow the road until it meets up with the trail again. (Elev. Chg.: 1086ft –1526ft)  Trail is marked with yellow and blue blazes.


11. Silver Ledge Trail  (0.6 mile, 1/2 hour) Trail heads off the Beaver Brook Road and crosses level terrain for a short distance. After crossing brook, trail climbs steeply. Ends at a split boulder with views of Lake Groton and Beaver Meadows. (Elev. Chg.:1358ft – 1838ft)


12. Montpelier Wells River Rail Trail  Good place for walking, bicycling or horseback riding.

Notes: This is the Montpelier-Wells River railroad bed which is part of the Cross Vermont Trail.  It is a 7 mile gradual grade through the state forest.  The Cross Vermont Trail extends to Groton Village to the east.  To the west, it joins VT Route 232 which can be used to access Marshfield. The Rail Trail can be easily accessed at Rickers Pond campground, the Overlook Parking Area, Boulder Beach Road, the Northern Parking Area on VT Route 232 near New Discovery, and the Kettle Pond parking lot. There are several unmarked logging roads which can be accessed from the Rail Trail for people who like to explore the woods.


13. Little Loop Trail (0.8 miles, 45 minutes) Access Little Loop at comer of Nature Center parking lot. This short loop has a vista overlooking a wetland. Both Coldwater Brook Trail and Peacham Bog Loop can be accessed from this trail.



Additional Trails


> Devil’s Hill This mountain is in the eastern part of the State Forest and access is available from Peacham.  It is an easy climb of less than half an hour, comparable to Owl's Head from its parking area.  The views are especially great to the west.  The following directions are from Groton Village Minard Hill Road, which is just east of the Groton Post Office.  

·           From Groton Village, travel north on Minard Hill Road which becomes Peacham Road which becomes Groton Road which becomes Peacham-Groton Road which becomes S Main St. in South Peacham.

·     Just above South Peacham, turn Left on Maple Tree Lane and go 0.7 mile

·     Turn Left on Green Bay Loop Rd and go 1.3 mile

·     Turn Right on Devil's Hill Road (no road sign) which is just beyond a green log home, and go 1.0 mile to the kiosk/parking area.  It is best to walk from here since parking/turning space is very limited further ahead.

·          About 0.1 mile beyond the kiosk area is a gate which is on the trail - go over/around the gate and follow the blue blazes and trail signs to the top.  To return to your car, either retrace steps back, or for a longer descent, continue to follow blue blazes which circles around to the path to the gate.


 > Spruce Mountain  This mountain is distinctly conical in shape and is visible from much of central Vermont.  Although the top of  this mountain is in Groton State Forest, access is through L.R. Jones State Forest just to the west of Pigeon Pond. It is about a 4.5 mile hike round trip.  There is a fire tower on top from which there are great views in all directions. From Groton State Forest, the trailhead parking area can be reached by car either on route 2 through Plainfield or route 302 through Orange.  The route 2 route is shorter and has great views on the return trip.


Recreation Overview

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