The little slice of wilderness called Woodford State Park is nestled in the mountains of southern Vermont.
It’s not exactly a tourist destination, but it beckons to certain people with its quiet mountain lake, secluded hiking trails, and beautiful waterfront campsites. I am definitely one of those people.
Woodford State Park is my happy place — A place that my family and I have been exploring in every season for the past 20 years. Come on, we’ll show you around!
The centerpiece of Woodford State Park is a small jewel of a lake called Adams Reservoir. Surrounded by forest, with pretty campsites tucked into the trees and along the shore, this 21-acre lake attracts wildlife, anglers, and kayakers who come to find solitude and connect with nature.
At 2,400 feet in elevation, Woodford State Park is home to the highest public campground in the state. The park itself is just 398 acres, but it’s bordered by the George Aiken Wilderness and the Green Mountain National Forest, so there are unlimited opportunities for exploring.
Here’s an overview of all the fantastic things you can do in Woodford State Park in all four seasons:
- Camping: Woodford State Park’s campground includes 76 tent sites and 20 lean-to sites, and four cabins, all with access to drinking water, a picnic table, and a campfire ring.
- Hiking: Hike the Adams Reservoir Trail, which is a 2.7-mile loop around the reservoir.
- Paddling: The park allows non-motorized boating on Adams Reservoir. You can bring your own canoe or kayak, or rent one from the park’s concessionaire.
- Fishing: Adams Reservoir is stocked with brook trout, and fishing is allowed from the shore or from a boat. You will need a Vermont fishing license to fish in the reservoir.
- Wildlife viewing: We have seen moose, otter, and owls in Woodford State Park, and you may also spot beavers, mink, deer, or fishers.
- Find Peace and quiet: Escape the hustle! The quiet and serene setting is perfect for relaxation and introspection.
- Stargazing: The park is located away from city lights, making it a great place to stargaze. The night sky is often clear and free from pollution, allowing you to see the Milky Way and other constellations.
- Photography: Woodford State Park is one of my favorite spots to escape with my camera. The beautiful scenery provides ample opportunities for shutterbugs.
Quick Facts: Woodford State Park
Address: 142 State Park Road, Woodford, VT
Activities: swimming, hiking, paddle sports, camping
Open: Memorial Day weekend to 2nd weekend in October
Fees: $5 adults, $2 kids
Dogs: on-leash, but not on the sandy beach
Camping: 76 tent/RV sites (no hook-ups), 20 lean-to sites, 4 camping cabins
Official Park Website
Woodford State Park is officially open from Memorial Day until Indigenous People’s Day, but visitors are welcome to explore in the off-season, provided they park their vehicle outside the park gates.
We love Woodford’s beauty in all four seasons and recommend it to everyone who visits Southern Vermont. Here’s why visiting Woodford State Park in VT is incredible year-round.
Spring: Fishing and Hiking at Woodford State Park
Adams Reservoir is stocked with brook trout in April, when the locals come out with their tackle boxes and picnic baskets and line the shore hoping for a trophy catch.
The more patient anglers will sit on the banks from morning till the sun sets, hoping for a good catch to stock the freezer.
If you want to fish in Woodford State Park, you can buy a Vermont fishing license at the park office.
For those that want to stretch their legs and take in the beauty of the forest, the trail around Adams Reservoir is a 2.7-mile loop through a dense softwood forest. You can shorten the loop by a mile if you cut into the campground and walk back to your starting point on the campground road.
This easy loop is one of our favorite spots to hike with dogs and kids, and one of the best easy hikes in southern Vermont.
The temperature at Woodford State Park remains chilly well into June, so be sure to plan for weather extremes if you visit in the spring. You should also be prepared for muddy conditions year-round.
The trail around Adams Reservoir has no significant elevation change, but it does have plenty of rocks and roots to keep you on your toes! Also worth mentioning, the black flies make an appearance toward the end of may and stick around through June.
Summer: Paddling and Camping at Woodford State Park
Summer is an outstanding time to visit Woodford State Park in Vermont.
The best way to experience the lake and the laid-back atmosphere is to reserve one of the 100 campsites that surround the lake. You can choose from 76 tent/RV sites (some are waterfront), 20 lean-tos, and four camping cabins, one of which is dog-friendly (Lady Slipper).
We live fairly close to the park, in the valley below. When it’s 90 degrees at home in Bennington, we can count on it being 10 degrees cooler at Woodford State Park, but let’s be honest — it’s rarely 90 degrees in Vermont.
If you’re planning a camping trip in the mountains, bring your woolies, even in the summer!
This is one of the few state parks that allows leashed dogs year-round. It’s one of Vermont’s most dog-friendly state parks.
You can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boats from the park rangers for an small fee, and the swimming is great from the small, sandy beach.
On the hottest days, there’s nothing like a dip in this mountain lake to restore the senses and fall in love with the world. Try it. I know you’ll agree!
Fall: Leaf-Peeping at Woodford State Park
Late September brings oranges, reds, and yellows to the forests of Vermont. It also brings leaf peepers from all over the world. The forest surrounding Woodford State Park changes earlier than much of the state, thanks in part to the abundance of swamp maples in the wetland areas. Early October is always a good bet for fall-foliage photography.
If you don’t mind roughing it, Woodford State Park makes a fabulous home base for exploring autumn in Vermont, and Woodford State Park is very close to two of our favorite spots to explore in the fall —Wilmington and Bennington.
The Woodford State Park campground is open until Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the fall, and if you’re not sure about camping in the cold, reserve one of the four cabins in the park — Lady Slipper cabin is pet-friendly.
You can fish for trout in Vermont until the end of October, and hiking is fabulous here in the fall — no bugs!
Winter: at Woodford State Park is for Skiing and Snowshoeing
Winter is an outstanding time of year to head into the Vermont backcountry.
Cross-country ski trails criss-cross the nearby Green Mountain National Forest, and during snowy winters, there’s a pretty well-marked trail through Woodford State Park and the surrounding wilds. We prefer skiing on the campground roads that remained covered with snow all winter long.
The frozen lake at Woodford State Park makes a fine playground, skating rink, and ski track all rolled into one. The park is officially closed in the winter, so you have to park your car in the snowmobile lot across the street and hike in from the road.
You can also request a free permit to try winter camping in Woodford State Park for up to three nights. Here’s the request form if you’re brave enough to give it a try.
Are you convinced that Woodford State Park is the sweetest little hidden spot in Vermont? Then come on up for a visit — I’ll meet you there!
For trail maps and campground reservations, check out Woodford State Park’s official website.
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Tara Schatz is a freelance writer, and the founder and editor-in-chief of Vermont Explored and Back Road Ramblers, an American road trip blog. She is also the co-author of the 3rd edition of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in Vermont, which was released in May 2023, and the author of 100+ Wonderful Ways to Experience Vermont.