Vermont’s lakes and ponds are jewels on the landscape. From afar, the first glimpse of a pond is a sparkle between the trees. As you get closer, there might be a slight breeze stirring, or if there is no wind, a peaceful silence over the water. Hiking around a pond, there is the chance to enjoy the reflections on the water, whether of trees, rocks or wetland vegetation. Often, ponds are great places to see wildlife -- great blue herons stalking frogs along the shore, or even moose dunking underwater for mouthfuls of aquatic plants.
To get to Perry Holbrook State Park, where there are three ponds nestled between forested ridges, turn north onto a right-of-way off of VT-122 at the height of land between Sheffield and Glover. There is a small State Parks sign, but it is easy to miss so keep an eye out! Be respectful as you pass the neighbor’s house and park in the small grassy lot by the woods road gate. The trail follows the woods road before it reaches the first pond, Round Pond.
After passing a private inholding, the trail continues along the shore before climbing steeply to Long Pond. Keep right at the intersections to go to the third and smallest pond, Mud Pond. For a beautiful view over the ponds, you can loop back up to the summit of Big Rock Hill and to O’Leary Leap Overlook. The loop with the out-and-back to Mud Pond is just under 3 miles.
There are so many ponds and trails traversing the ecologically diverse Bomoseen and Half Moon State Parks, you could take an entire day to explore them all. The trails are accessed from the campgrounds and day use areas (there is a fee to access these areas and there is no day use parking at Half Moon State Park during the camping season), as well as a parking area off of Moscow Road. The Glen Lake Trail follows the edge of Glen Lake then heads through the forest to two remote ponds before connecting to Half Moon State Park. There are multiple scenic vistas over the ponds and interesting forest types along the 4.5 mile trail. The High Pond or Daniel Coffey Memorial Trail leaves from Half Moon State Park and heads to a small pond after a bit less than a mile. High Pond is a great place to see wildlife including herons, frogs and turtles. Finally, the Half Moon Shore trail follows along the shore of the pond and connects the campground at Half Moon to the Glen Lake trail.
Lowell Lake State Park is located just north of VT-11 off of Lowell Lake Road. The trail starts from a parking area that also serves a boat launch for the lake. From the trailhead, you can travel either direction to make a 3.5-mile loop around the lake. The trail is generally quite easy and wide, although there are some wet spots. There are plenty of places to view the lake and its associated wetlands and islands.
Kettle Pond is one of eight lakes and ponds in Groton State Forest and features lovely pond views as well as multiple remote and group camping opportunities, which can be reserved through New Discovery State Park. The 3.1 mile hiking trail is accessed from a parking lot off of VT-232. From the parking lot, there is hand-carry boat access, and a wheelchair-accessible trail to a viewpoint of the water. From that viewpoint, the trail narrows and loops around the pond (this section is not wheelchair-accessible). At the far end of the pond, the trail is narrow and wet before it loops back to a short road walk on VT-232 to return to the parking area.
The 3.2 mile Big Muddy Pond Loop starts at the Eden Crossing Long Trail parking lot off of VT-118. To make the loop, follow the Babcock Extension back to VT-118 and then cross VT-118 to the Babcock Trail. This trail heads gradually upward to Big Muddy Pond, which despite its name, is a beautiful remote pond. Turn left at the junction with the Long Trail to climb steeply to a lookout over another pond, Ritterbush Pond, before heading back toward VT-118 and the parking area.
Colchester Pond, located off of Colchester Pond Road, provides a peaceful respite not far from Vermont’s most urban center. As the 3-mile trail loops around the lake, it becomes steep and rocky in places. Take care to stay on the trail to respect both the natural world and the trail’s neighbors. The parking area also provides access to the pond for boating, fishing and swimming.
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