Family Fun

Family Fun Overview

Spending time outdoors together as a family is a great bonding experience that builds closer relationships between parents and kids. You’ll spend some real quality time together and you will treasure your shared memories and experiences long after the tent has been packed away.

Studies show that kids who play outside are better students, more social and healthier. Kids who spend time in nature have an increased sense of wonder and appreciation of our natural world, which is important because today's children are tomorrow's environmental stewards.

Vermont State Parks make it easy to introduce children to the outdoors. There is a state park within a ½ hour drive of every Vermont town and state parks are located in some of the most beautiful places in all of Vermont.

Our parks have modern restrooms with flush toilets, hot and cold running water and showers. Our campsites are easily accessible by car so you can bring the stroller and toys and the big coolers.

Here are some resources and ideas to get your family outside and to start your own family tradition.

Kid-friendly Hikes

The following parks have hikes that can be enjoyed by the whole family. Click the buttons to view specific trails and to view additional information.

Northwest Region

Burton Island, Knight Island, Knight Point, Niquette Bay, Underhill, Woods Island

Burton Island State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
West Shore Trail 0.75 One way or loop to other trails Easy 1 hour Woodland, Lakeside
North Shore Trail 0.50 One way or loop with Eagle Bay Trail Easy 30 min Woodland, Lakeside
Eagle Bay Trail 0.50 One way or loop with North Shore Trail Easy 30 min Woodland, Lakeside
Island Farm Nature Trail 1.00 Loop Easy 1 hour Woodland, Meadow
Southern Tip Trail 1.00 One way Easy 1.5 hours Woodland, Meadow, View

Knight Island State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
West Trail 1.00 Loop when combined with East or Cross Trails Easy 1 hour Woodland, Lakeside
East Trail 1.00 Loop when combined with West or Cross Trails Easy 1 hour Woodland, Lakeside, Views
Cross Trail 0.50 Connector Trail Easy 30 min Woodland

Knight Point State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Point Trail 1.00 One way or loop through park Easy 30 min Woodland, Lakeside

Niquette Bay State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Burns Trail 1.00 One way or loop with other trails Easy 20 mins Woodland, Views
Allen Trail 0.50 One way or loop with other trails Easy 15 mins Woodland

Underhill State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
CCC Road to Sunset Ridge 1.00 One way Easy 1 hour Woodland

Woods Island State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Island Loop 2.00 Loop Easy 2 hours Woodland, Lakeside
Cross Trail 0.50 One way, Connector Easy 30 min Woodland

Northeast:

Brighton, Elmore, Kettle Pond, New Discovery, Ricker Pond, Little River, Seyon Lodge, Smugglers' Notch, Waterbury Center

Brighton State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Red Pine Trail 0.33 Loop with Main or Shore Trail Easy 20 min Woodland
Main Trail 0.50 Loop with Red Pine or Shore Trail Easy 45 min Woodland
Logger's Loop 0.25 Loop Easy 15 min Woodland
Shore Trail 0.40 Loop with Red Pine or Main Trail Easy 20 min Woodland, Lakeside

Elmore State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Beaver Trail 0.50 One Way Easy 20 min Woodland, Wetland

Groton Forest Trails - Kettle Pond State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Kettle Pond Trail 3.00 Loop Easy 2.5 hours Woodland, Lakeside
Kettle Pond Portage Trail 0.25 One Way Easy 20 mins. Woodland, Lakeside

Groton Forest Trails - New Discovery State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
New Discovery to Osmore Pond 0.50 One Way Easy 30 min Woodland, Lakeside
Osmore Pond Hiking Loop 2.00 Loop Easy 2 hours Woodland, Lakeside
Little Deer Trail 0.50 One Way Moderate 30 min Woodland, Views
Hosmer Brook Trail 1.30 One Way Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Stream
Nature Trail 0.60 One Way Easy 45 min Woodland
Owl's Head 1.50 One Way Easy 1 hour Woodland, Views

Groton Forest Trails - Ricker Pond State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Cross Vermont Trail 10.00 One Way Easy Rail trail, Woodland

Little River State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Nature Trail 0.40 Loop Easy 45 min Woodland, Stream

Seyon Lodge State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Noyes Pond Loop 1.00 Loop Easy 1 hour Woodland, Lakeside

Smugglers' Notch State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Bingham Falls 0.80 One Way Easy 1 hour Woodland, Waterfall

Waterbury Center State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Peninsula Trail 0.50 Loop Easy 15 min Woodland, Lakeside

Southwest:

Bomoseen, Branbury, Button Bay, Emerald Lake, Half Moon Pond, Mt. Philo, Lake Shaftsbury, Lake St. Catherine, Woodford

Bomoseen State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Bomoseen Hiking Loop 1.50 Loop Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Pond
Slate History Trail 0.75 One Way Easy 1 hour Woodland, Slate
Daniel Coffey Memorial Trail 0.75 One Way Easy 1 hour Woodland, Pond

Branbury State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Nature Trail 0.50 Loop Easy 45 min Woodland

Button Bay State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Button Bay Point Trail 0.30 Loop Easy 15 min Lakeside
Dog Walk Trail 0.25 One Way Easy 15 min Open, Lakeside

Emerald Lake State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Vista Trail 0.75 One Way Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Lakeside

Half Moon Pond State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Daniel Coffee Memorial Trail 0.75 One Way Easy 1 hour Woodland, Pond

Mt. Philo State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Summit Trail 1.00 One Way to Summit Trails Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Summit

Lake Shaftsbury State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Healing Springs 0.75 Round Trip Easy 1 hour Lakeside, Woodland, Wetland

Lake St. Catherine State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Nature Trail 0.50 Loop Easy 45 min Woodland, Meadow, Stream

Woodford State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Atwood Trail 0.50 Loop Easy 30 min Woodland, Lakeside
Reservoir Trail 2.70 Loop Easy Woodland, Lakeside

Southeast:

Camp Plymouth, Fort Dummer, Gifford Woods, Jamaica, Lowell Lake, Molly Stark, Mt. Ascutney, Quechee

Camp Plymouth State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Echo Lake Vista 1.00 Round Trip Moderate 40 min - 1 hour Woodland, Lake View

Fort Dummer State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Sunrise Trail 1.00 Loop Easy 45 min Woodland, Views
Sunset Trail 0.50 One Way Easy 25 min Woodland, Views

Gifford Woods State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Owl Growth Interpretive Trail 0.10 Loop Easy 10-15 min Woodland
Kent Brook Trail 1.10 Loop Easy to moderate 45 min Woodland
Pond and Waterfall Loop 3.50 Loop Easy 2.5 hours Woodland, Brooks, Pools

Jamaica State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
West River Trail 2.50 One Way Easy 2.5 hours Woodland, Riverside

Lowell Lake State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Lowell Lake Trail 3.00 Loop Easy 2 hours Woodland, Lakeside

Molly Stark State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Nature Center Spur 0.20 One Way Easy 20 min Woodland

Mt. Ascutney State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Summit Trail 1.40 Round Trip Moderate 2 hours Woodland, Mountain, Views

Quechee State Park

More information (PDF) >
Trail Name Mileage Loop or One Way Difficulty Hiking Time Description Kid-Friendly
Quechee Gorge Trail 1.00 Round trip from bridge to bottom of gorge Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Gorge
1.50 Round trip from Visitor Center to bottom of gorge Moderate 1.5 hours Woodland, Gorge
1.50 Round trip from bridge to Dewey's Pond Moderate 1 hour Woodland, Falls
2.00 Round trip from Visitor Center to Dewey's Pond Moderate 1.5 hours Woodland, Falls

Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge

You and your family will never run out of fun things to do when you participate in the Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenge.

Here's how it works:

  1. Download a score sheet (PDF)
  2. Do fun outdoor activities listed on the score sheet between April 01, 2017 - October 15, 2017.
  3. Take photos of your activities
  4. When you reach 250 points, submit your score sheet and photos to us
  5. Receive a VIP gold coin, good for free state park entry for rest of this year and all of next!
  6. Have a blast!

If you are doing the challenge as a family, you can take group photos, but each family member needs their own score sheet.

Take a look at some photos from past participants:

Top Parks for Family Camping

Elmore State Park

Fire tower at Elmore State Park
The base of the fire tower at Elmore State Park

Located on the shore of Lake Elmore, Elmore State Park is perfect for first-time campers or families with small children.

The lake is relatively small and there is a large, sandy beach with boat rentals, a snack bar. The lake is fun for canoeing or kayaking and at the end of the lake there is a hidden little waterway to explore that feels like a big adventure.

There are wide, grassy expanses to play on, swings, a volleyball net and a picnic shelter.

There are a variety of trails to explore: The Fire tower Trail which (you guessed it) leads to a fire tower commands amazing views of northern Vermont's mountains and valleys. There is also a family-friendly hike called the Beaver Trail.

Grand Isle State Park

Famly camping at Grand Isle State Park
Dinner time at Grand Isle State Park

As its name implies, Grand Isle State Park is located on the largest island in Lake Champlain.  The Lake Champlain Islands are a unique part of Vermont – their relatively flat landscapes and mild temperatures create ideal growing conditions, supporting many family farms, vineyards, and orchards.

Framed by the Adirondack Mountains to the west and the Green Mountains to the east, the relatively flat landscape and expansive lake views make for some of the best bike riding in the state.

With over 4,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Champlain, and its proximity to both Montreal and Burlington, Grand Isle is a popular destination for many families, some of whom spend their entire vacations here. Swimming, biking and paddling are all popular activities, and the park has daily nature programs and special events like concerts and dances.  Nearby, you can explore the world’s oldest fossil reef, the nation’s oldest log cabin, a fish hatchery, or the Echo Aquarium and Science Center.

The park has tent sites, lean-to’s cabins, boat rentals, volleyball, horseshoes, a nature walk and a play area.  Your paid camping registration also gets you free entry into nearby Knight Point, Alburgh Dunes, North Hero, Niquette Bay, and Sand Bar State Parks, where day-use facilities include hiking and walking trails, more beaches, and some very scenic picnic sites.

Half Moon Pond State Park

Family camping at Half Moon Pond State Park
Picnicking at Half Moon Pond

When polling families about their favorite camping spots, Half Moon Pond State Park is always at the top of Vermont’s list.  Intimate in scale, the park surrounds quiet little Half Moon Pond. The campground offers tent and lean-to camping and there are five cabins. For those seeking more creature comforts, fully furnished Tall Timbers Cottage, with its waterfront location and private boat dock, offers all the amenities of home.

A perfect place for campers seeking a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, the park offers a vast trail system including a short walk or, for the more ambitious, a full-day’s hike. Hikers are likely to see a variety of wildlife including white-tailed deer or an occasional moose.

Rowboats, kayaks, canoes and pedal boats are available for rent. Two small, sandy beaches provide locations for sunbathing and swimming. The pond also has excellent fishing, where kids and adults alike can land panfish, yellow perch, largemouth bass and rainbow trout.

If your family enjoys biking, be sure to check out the nearby D & H Rail Trail, with two approximately 10-mile sections that follow the old railroad bed of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad, traversing beautiful Vermont countryside, through farm fields, wetlands, and mixed woodlands interlaced with clear-flowing streams.

With sites both on the water's edge and back in the woods, the 52 tent sites, 5 cabins and 11 lean-to sites at Half Moon Pond provide great camping opportunities in a quiet, peaceful environment. There is a play area and hiking trails to High Pond and to Bomoseen State Park.

Jamaica State Park

Family fun at Jamaica State Park

Yes, there is a Jamaica, Vermont.  In fact, it’s not far from Peru, Vermont.  But don’t let the name fool you, Jamaica State Park is a family favorite, located just outside the quaint village of Jamaica, surrounded by the rugged and steep southern Green Mountains.

Jamaica State Park is located on a bend of the West River, which runs clean and cold in alternating shallow riffles and deep pools, making it a favorite of fishermen and swimmers alike.  A rail trail runs along the river and is ideal for family hiking or biking. A foot trail off the rail trail leads to the spectacular Hamilton Falls, ranked by many as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of New England.

Every spring and fall, on one weekend in late April and late September, there is a water release on the West River from Ball Mountain Dam.  This is a semiannual event for many whitewater kayakers and canoeists from all over New England. Jamaica state park has a playground, nature programs and pet-friendly tent and lean-to camping May through October.

Stillwater State Park

Family fun at Stillwater State Park

Stillwater State Park is part of the 26,000 acre Groton Forest and is located on the shores of Lake Groton.  This area is special because there are six state parks clustered within the forest, each with its own personality and recreational opportunities. When you are a registered camper at one Vermont park, you receive free entry to all others, so a stay in the forest is truly a vacation destination.

Stillwater State Park is known for its great family programs. During your stay you might participate in a bike parade, a pancake breakfast, or you might make “fairy houses” or attend a live raptor program. The park has several campers beaches and provides tent and lean-to camping. Just down the road is the Groton Nature Center where you can learn more about the forest or pick up one of the many forest hiking trails. In fact, the trail network within the forest is one of the best in the state, where you and your family can choose a number of trails suited to your ability and interest. The Cross-Vermont Trail is a multi-use rail trail perfect for a family bike outing.

Camping How-to's

Meet Sarah, Frank and family. They are one of our favorite, and funniest Vermont camping families. They've had their share of fun times and near mishaps and are here to help you learn everything you need to know to have a blast in camp and on the trail.

Additional Resources

How-to Downloadable Checklists

These handy, printable checklists and how-to instruction sheets give you everything you need in an at-a-glance format.

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