Special Places

The Green Mountain  and Finger Lakes National Forests each offers visitors many unique natural attractions and experiences. These range from the accessible trails at Thundering Falls, to the historical Stratton fire tower, to the serenity of hiking in the wilderness. Explore a category below or just straight to a highlighted area to begin discovering your National Forests. 

Find Your Wild Side

Two cross country skies in red coats pop out from the white and snowy forest wilderness

The Green Mountain National Forest is home to 8 congressionally designated wilderness areas managed for protection of natural spaces. These areas offer more of an escape from everyday modern life than other campgrounds and recreation areas that provide greater amenities. Additional planning should be taken before visiting these areas, but the rewards are immense.

Learn more about about our wilderness areas at wilderness.net

Favorite Wilderness Areas

 

Connect to Something Big

A small wooden sign reads AT South against the mossy forest backdrop

Long-distance hiking trails cross both the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests. These trails connect local communities, state public lands, and sometimes multiple National Forests across state lines in order to create hiking experiences worthy of epic tales. The Green Mountain National Forest hosts sections of the Appalachian Trail, the Long Trail, and the North Country Trail while the Finger Lakes National Forest in New York also  hosts a section of the North Country Trail as well as sizable portion of the Finger Lakes Trail.

Favorite Long Trals

  • The Long Trail
  • The Appalacian Trail
  • The Finger Lakes Trail

Pick Your Own

A hand reaches from the bottom of the frame to pluck a ripe red apple from a tree

The history of the Finger Lakes National Forest and, more specifically, the people that settled the area before it can still be found today. Apple trees, wild raspberries and blueberries, and other fruits can be found throughout the forest. These sumptuous artifacts point to a history of land management from a time when parts of the forest were once farms.  Our Forests' heritages are still evident in the the way they are managed today and you can read them in more than just books. 

Favorite 

Highlighted Areas

Thundering Falls

Thundering Falls is said to be the sixth tallest waterfall in Vermont. It is part of Kent Brook which flows out of Kent Pond just north of where the AT and the Long Trail split. At high water it is a magnificent cascade as the stream tumbles 140 feet through a steep and narrow cataract. The falls are also the site of a historic mill powered by the energy of the falling water.

The Green Mountain Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the National Park Service, and Green Mountain National Forest have worked on this project since the mid-1980s when they acquired a property easement across the Ottauquechee flood plain. Major funding was secured by the ATC and the Green Mountain Club and Vermont Youth Conservation Corps began work in 2005.Thundering Falls provides the first universal accessible portion of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont with wheelchair accessible parking on River Road in Killington. The Thundering Falls relocation also gets rid of a dusty road walk on Thundering Brook Road, adds great views of the Ottauquechee Valley and the falls, protects the resource, and takes advantage of flat terrain to make a stretch of the AT accessible to people who use wheelchairs.

Starting from the River Road parking area the AT passes through open Ottauquechee River flood plain across 900 feet of boardwalk built by the Green Mountain Club. The trail than ascends to the falls viewing platform via an accessible switchback and spur trail built by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps. From here the AT continues its ascent through northern hardwood forest to Thundering Brook Road where a small parking lot can be found.

Additional Resources

Thundering Falls Recreation Guide and Map


White Rocks Cliffs Trail

During the last Ice Age, glaciers scoured and exposed the Cheshire quartzite that makes up White Rocks Cliffs. Since that time, the White Rocks area has had a long history of human use. Native Americans quarried stone from the site for tools, and in the 1850s white settlers cleared the land for grazing. As the abandoned fields reverted to forest during this century, logging came to the area. Today, the White Rocks Cliffs have been set-aside as part of a National Recreation Area for backcountry recreation and to insure a continuous wildlife habitat.

White Rocks Cliffs offers several beautiful vistas of the Route 7 valley, the Taconic Mountains, and the Adirondack Mountains in the distance. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics, such as carry out what you carry in.

Additional Resources

White Rocks Cliffs Trail Recreation Guide and Map


Little Rock Pond Trail

This section of the Appalachian/Long Trail, marked with white blazes, is a narrow, gradually inclining path through a mixed hardwood forest. The trail crisscrosses and follows Little Black Brook. One such crossing is made over a narrow steel “I” beam. The pond is surrounded by hills and large boulders, and is a very popular area for swimming, fishing, and camping. Shelters and tent platforms are available on a first come, first served basis and are found on the east side of the trail, in close proximity to the pond.

Additional Resources

Little Rock Pond Trail Recreation Guide and Map


Stratton Mountain Trail

This section of the Appalachian/Long Trail, marked with white blazes, travels to the summit of Stratton Mountain. The trail begins a gradual ascent from the parking area through a mixed hard/softwood forest. At 1.4 miles the trail crosses Forest Road 341, and begins the steeper climb up the mountain. The trail flattens out for a little while following a ridgeline, then climbs again using switchbacks. Vista openings along the trail offer beautiful views of Somerset Reservoir to the south. +

At the summit of Stratton Mountain, you may climb a recently renovated 70 ft. fire tower that was originally erected by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. The tower offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the Green Mountain range and the Taconic Mountains to the west. A Green Mountain Club caretaker is stationed at the summit during summer and fall months, to assist hikers and help preserve the natural area.

Additional Resources

Stratton Mountain Trail Recreation Guide and Map


Hapgood Pond Recreation Area

Hapgood Pond Recreation Area offers camping, fishing, swimming, picnicking, and hiking among the tranquil surroundings of Hapgood Pond.  The pond itself is 12 acres in size and 12 feet at its deepest point. The recreation area offers a 28-site campground in a wooded setting, a 1 mile nature trail, and a day use area with a beach for swimming. No lifeguard is on duty; swim at your own risk.

Hapgood Pond Recreation Area was the first land acquired that now makes up part of the Green Mountain National Forest. The Civilian Conservation Corps built many of the original facilities from 1936 through 1938.

Additional Resources

Hapgood Recreation Area Brochure


Robert Frost Interpretive Trail

This trail is a National Recreation Trail that commemorates Robert Frost’s poetry; several of his poems are mounted along the trail in the woods and fields. Blueberries and huckleberries grow in an old field at the far end of the trail. The Forest Service maintains all of the old fields along this trail with prescribed fire to preserve the scenic, open appearance of the area. The trail is an easy walk, and the first 0.3 miles across a beaver pond boardwalk out to the South Branch of the Middlebury River is accessible and suitable for wheelchairs. Please practice Leave No Trace ethics, such as carry out what you carry in.

Additional Resources

Robert Frost Interpretive Trail Recreation Guide and Map


Areas & Activities