Spring offers a special opportunity to get outside as the sun warms up the land, but watch out for mud. Trails can be very soft and fragile while new growth is coming out. It is critical that hikers stay on trails only throughout the spring. Pick a sunny day after a dry spell for the best spring hiking. Or enjoy pleasant walks on the roads through Woodstock to see the variety of architectural splendor this historic community has to offer.
Nearby you can also explore the unique Eshqua Bog Natural Area. This is a 40-acre sanctuary that is managed and owned jointly by the New England Wild Flower Society and the Nature Conservancy. Technically a "fen", this wetland is fed by ground water making it rich in nutrients and especially beautiful in the spring. The Loop Trail, marked with white blazes, circles eight acres of wetlands. It can be easily walked in 20 minutes and provides a unique habitat for post-glacial species including orchids, pink lady's slipper, green bog orchids and Labrador tea. Leave pets behind for this walk. From Woodstock, travel east on Route 4. At Maplefields, go straight up Hartland Hill rather than staying on Route 4. In about 1.5 miles turn right on Garvin Hill Road until you come to a fork in the road. The bog is directly in front of you and you may see other cars near the Conservancy sign.
Woodstock is full of hiking trails, some linking right to the The Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Be aware, though that the unique relationship of this park has it groomed for cross-country skiing through the end of March. Hikers are only allowed after the snow has melted entirely and the trails are hard and dry. You can snowshoe or cross country ski on the trails often into April at the Woodstock Ski Touring Center. Contact Peter or Betsy at (802) 457-6674 to be sure the trails are accessible before you set out.
Grab a sandwich for your backpack at the Village Butcher or the Woodstock Farmer's Market and head for the hills for a day of hiking. Make it back to town in time for a latte at Woodstock Coffee & Tea or schnapps at Bentley's. You'll find Woodstock has lots to offer on foot.
The trailhead is easily accessible from the Village Green. Head down Court St. between Courthouse and Woodstock Inn. At the end of Court St. turn left and then make a right on to Golf Ave. Continue on Golf Ave. to Maple St. At Maple and Golf Streets see parking on left. Trailhead is to the left off the driveway. Trailhead starts with a steep incline through the woods but levels to a gentle series of trails. The vista at the summit includes Mt. Tom, Billings Farm and Museum, Pomfret Hills and Killington Mountain.
The hill in the center of town on the banks of the Ottauquechee River can be reached by three different trails:
- The Faulkner Trail- The walk is about 30 minutes for the average hiker and provides a magical view of Woodstock. Note that reaching the summit requires sure-footed-ness at the top as the trail gets steep, narrow and rocky for the last hundred yards or so. From the Town Green, walk over the Covered Middle Bridge in the Center of Woodstock to River Street, go straight on to Mountain Avenue that will bear left, as a dirt road. Enjoy the stately architecture of the homes as you head to Faulkner Park, just beyond the lovely white Faulkner Mansion
( a private home ). The paths up the mountain are easily accessible from this secluded park and provide a series of switchbacks to the top.
- River Street Cemetery Trail- A less traveled trail with fewer markings. From the Green walk over the Covered Middle Bridge in the center of Woodstock to River Street, go right onto River Street and walk until you see the River Street Cemetery on your left. Walk to the very end of the stone wall and turn left onto the trail through a stand of elegant pines. This trail will take you past the Swift Water Girl Scout overnight cabin and up to the Link Trail. Or bear right to walk to the trails at the Marsh Billings Rockefeller Historic National Park.
- Prosper Road Trail Head- Ample parking for longer hikes with an easy grade and wide carriage roads. Drive from the center of Woodstock heading north on Route 12 about 1.5 miles to the small green sign "To West Woodstock". Turn Left on Proper Road and head up this dirt road about 1.3 miles to an obvious parking area in a stand of pine trees on your left. You can leave your car there during the day, just not overnight. The trailhead is well marked and maps are often available.
Your dogs are welcome to come with you on all our trails, but must be on a leash at all times. Vermont law puts dogs in jeopardy if they are caught chasing deer. They can startle other hikers who may not enjoy your dog as much as you do. Pack out all your own trash, leaving nothing behind and do not start picnic fires on these trails. Rangers from the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Park frequently walk the trails. Please be aware that these trails are well loved by everyone. Thanks for being respectful of the rules as you hike here.
Woodstock has long been a crossover spot for hikers travelling from New Hampshire into Vermont and onto Killington. The AT crosses Route 12 just north of the village. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy suggests avoiding all hikes on the AT during the spring as hiking in the mud leads to serious trail erosion. Go to www.appalachiantrail.org for more information.