Killington, Vermont 05751Official Website
Birdwatching in Vermont, p. 77.
The Appalachian Trail runs through Gifford Woods State Park west of Kent Pond and passes along the south side of the pond. The trail in either direction offers the opportunity to see a wide variety of warblers including Nashville, Northern Parula, Chestnut-sided, Magnolia, Black-throated Blue, Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green, Blackburnian, Blackpoll, Black-and-white, American Redstart, Ovenbird, and Canada warblers. Brown Creepers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Winter Wrens are present in good numbers.
You can hike the Appalachian Trail through Gifford Woods State Park. Birding is best from mid-May through summer and well into September.
With its location at the base of Killington and Pico peaks and its close proximity to the Appalachian and Long trails, Gifford Woods State Park is a favorite of hikers. Many through-hikers pass the park on their Appalachian Trail journey from Georgia to Maine. The park is also popular for its dramatic autumn colors during the fall foliage season.
Established in 1931 when the state purchased 13 acres of land from Lee Pearsons, the park grew over the next two decades with a land donation from Walter K. Barrows and various land purchases. Mr. Barrows noticed that many passing motorists stopped at the spot to admire the large old trees growing on his property and decided that it should be protected by adding it to the newly established state park.
The development of Gifford Woods State Park began in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a nationwide public works program created during the Great Depression of the 1930s to provide jobs and training for thousands of unemployed Americans. In 1933 and 1934, CCC crews constructed the park office and ranger’s quarters, picnic area, stone restroom building, trails, the park entrance, and parking area. In 1939 the CCC constructed a camping area. A new section was added to the campground in 1959. The park continued to grow throughout the 20th Century and reached its current size of 285 acres in 2003 when 171 non-contiguous acres were acquired from the Green Mountain Club to protect the Long Trail corridor.
Today, Gifford Woods contains one of the few old-growth hardwood tree stands remaining in Vermont. The stand has many grand-sized sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, white ash, and hemlock. The understory is rich with native wildflowers. In 1978, seven acres of forest in this area were designated the Gifford Woods Natural Area. An additional 13 acres were designated as Gifford Woods National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1980 because of the exemplary quality of the old-growth forest. To preserve the natural state of the Natural Area, no trails are permitted nor the development of any kind.
A wooded picnic area is located behind the ranger’s quarters and a play area. Day hikes are available and there is an easy hook-up with the Appalachian Trail.
See all hotspots at Long Trail
Vermont’s Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont line to the Canadian border. Built between 1910 and 1930, it was the vision of James P. Taylor and later became the inspiration for the Appalachian Trail. The Long Trail and Appalachian Trail share 100 miles of trail in the southern part of the state.
On the Long Trail, hikers encounter the best natural features Vermont has to offer, including pristine ponds, alpine sedges, hardwood forests, and swift streams. Known as the “footpath in the wilderness,” it is easy in a few sections and rugged in most. Steep inclines and plenty of mud present hikers with plenty of challenges.
As maintainer and protector of the Long Trail, the Green Mountain Club works in partnership with the Green Mountain National Forest, the State of Vermont, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and private landowners to offer a world-class hiking trail.
The Long Trail is truly the trail for everyone. Each year, hundreds of thru-hikers set out to complete the trail in one go, a journey that has been completed in under 5 days but typically takes multiple weeks. Section hikers tackle the trail in bursts, often completing the Long Trail over the course of many years.
Hikers who hike every mile of the Long Trail, whether in day trips, multi-day sections, or all at once, are called “End-to-Enders” and are eligible to register for inclusion in the GMC’s official records.
Most trail users are day hikers, who enjoy desired destinations as day trips without camping out on the trail.
The TrailFinder website has a description and map of a hike at Gifford Woods State Park.
Restrooms on site
Wheelchair accessible trail
Last updated October 6, 2023