US Route 302 and VT Route 232 are major roads which travel through Groton State Forest. US Route 2 runs along the northwestern boundary..
Rickers Pond Parking: I-91 to exit 17. Take Route 302 West through Groton. Drive 2 miles past Groton, turn right onto Route 232. After 2 miles, parking area is on the right.
25,000 acre Groton State Forest, located less than an hour drive from Montpelier, VT and White River Junction offers an array of natural features and recreation areas for park visitors to enjoy. With seven state parks, an extensive trail network, boulder studded sandy beaches, large glacial lakes, secluded ponds, dramatic cliffs and one of the largest bogs in Vermont nestled within it's boundaries, it is no suprise that Groton State Forest is a popular year-round outdoor recreation and camping destination.
Miles of logging roads, snowmobile trails and gravel forest roads traverse and wind through Groton State Forest offering easy to moderate mountain biking, hiking and horseback riding opportunities. Cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and snowmobiling are popular winter activities on the trail system as conditions allow. The paths travel in and out of the woods, past several lakes and ponds providing access to most of the interesting Groton State Forest features including Owlshead Mountain, Lake Groton, Kettle Pond, Peacham Bog and several historical sites.
Off trail activities include picnicking, swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. (see our Bikes & Beaches feature article for more detail). Tent and RV camping is available at the Ricker Pond, Stillwater, Big Deer and New Discover State Park campgrounds. There is even a bed & breakfast Lodge on Noyes Pond at Seyton Ranch State Park for those who prefer not to rough it. The Groton Nature Center, located on the shore of Lake Groton, offers a variety of Ranger led programs. Other park facilities include: hot showers, boat launches, playgrounds, picnic and recreation shelters, concession stands and more.
The forest is primarily a second growth forest (see Historical Notes below) comprised mostly of northern hardwoods, the most common being maple, birch and beech. Spruce and fir can be found both in the lower and wetter areas along the streams and at the higher elevations. Wildlife is abundant and includes black bear, moose, mink, beaver, otter, fisher, loons and herons.
Groton State Forest Mountain Bike Trails
Mountain biking is available on almost all of the Groton State Forest roads (20 miles) which are basically gravel-surfaced roads marked with orange reflectorized diamonds, and other multi-use trails and roads specifically designated for mountain bike use. The multi-use trails are generally blazed with yellow paint. There are also over 17 miles of hiking only trails which are blazed with blue paint. (Trail bikes and all-terrain vehicles are prohibited anywhere on Vermont State land). See our list below for suggested mountain bike rides.
Montepelior to Wells Rail Trail
A 14.5 mile section of the Cross Vermont Trail, the popular, historic Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail runs through the Forest pretty much uninterrupted, except for a few road and stream crossings, from Rickers Pond to Plainsfield. It is part of the Cross Vermont Trail which extends to Groton Village to the east. To the west, it joins VT Route 232 which can be used to access Marshfield.
The Rail Trail offers easy, level pedaling through the forest and plenty of historical features and wildlife viewing opportunities. You can do a 20 mile loop mountain bike ride by combining the stretch of the rail trail that travels from Rickers Pond to Marshfield Pond with several multi-use trails. Up to Marshfield Pond, the route is fine for beginners, who can choose to turn around at any point. The remainder of the bike ride requires traveling on rocky, multi-use trails with a 800 foot climb around Hardwood Mountain. The climb isn't technical, but requires good physical fitness. The last leg of the bike route travels on Beaver Brook Forest Road which ends back where you began at Rickers Pond. Several unmarked logging roads branch off the trail inviting exploration.
The Rail Trail can be easily accessed at Rickers Pond campground, the Overlook Parking Area, the Kettle Pond parking lot and via the Rail Trail Connector, a VAST snowmobile trail (Northern Parking Lot located (between New Discovery State Park and the Groton Maintenance Shop driveway).
See detailed trail description for Montepelior to Wells Rail Trail
Other multi-Use paths include the VAST 302 Trail, Cross Cut Trail, Beaver Brook Road, Depot Brook Road, Martins Pond Road, Marshfield Brook Trail and Blake Hill Road which when combined offer a variety of loop and out-and-back mountain bike ride options.
VAST 302 Corridor Trail
The extensive VAST (Vermont Association of Snow Travelers) trail system traverses the Forest and offers an ideal way to explore the forest by mountain bike during the summer and fall.
Beaver Brook Road: Multi-Use Unsigned.
Cross Cut Trail: 1.25 miles
10-foot wide multi-use trail provides a connector between Seyon Lodge State Park and Ricker Pond State Park. Begin on the Montpelier-Wells River Rail Trail ½ mile north of Ricker Pond State Park. Continue west 0.1 mile; cross Route 232 and proceed to intersection with Depot Brook Road. You can then go north to get to several trails, or south to Seyon Lodge State Park.
Coldwater Brook Trail : 1.9 miles (Orange and Blue blazed)
This moderate trail travels through through diverse woodland with an elevation gain of about 490 feet. There are some rocky sections at the upper end of the trail. Starts at the Nature Center parking lot, climbs embankment, then travels on flat terrain following the brook. Crosses Peacham Bog Trail (0.4 mile) and turns left, ascending gradually.
Old Lanesboro Trail:
Leads to Peacham Pond and intersects with Blake Hill Road. A few trail spurs head south into the woods for those who like a little adventure.
Telephone Line Multi-Use Trail: 2.5 miles
Conditions and track size vary on this multi-use trail. Accessed via the northern Rail Trail Connector (park across from New Dicsovery SP on VT Rt 232), or from Big Deer State Park.
Seyon lodge State Park:
From the park you can access 5.5 miles of cross-country ski trails which are groomed for winter use.
Owlshead Mountain: The summit of Owlshead Mountain is accessible by trail and the summer road which leads almost to the top, offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. At the top, a stone Fire Tower built by the CCC in 1935 is an interesting feature. It is one of the most-photographed viewing spots in Vermont.
Kettle Pond: The secluded Kettle Pond, is known for its beautiful moss-covered boulders and the blueberry bushes along the shore line. A hiking trail circumnavigates the pond.
Peacham Bog: The 748 acre bog is one of the largest bogs in Vermont and home to many interesting and unusual plants and animals.
During the French and Indian Wars, Groton was visited by bands of Indians and raiding parties of both English and French. Groton was a rugged wilderness then. Mountain lions and timber wolves roamed the hills. Captain Edmund Morse, one of the first settlers, arrived in 1783. He built the town's first Saw & Grist Mill on the outlet of what is now Ricker Pond. The logging industry grew and devoured the forest. Sawmills have operated at 12 different sites in the town of Groton. The Montpelier & Wells River Railroad (now a recreational trail through the forest) was completed in 1873 and gave Groton's sawmills easy access to a wood hungry market.
The area was also devastated by several forest fires and hit by a hurricane in 1938. As a result, there is no virgin forest left. The Civilian Conservation Corps, encamped near Osmore Pond in the 1930's, was responsible for new plantations of pine and spruce.
For more information:
State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources