A few miles east of Route 30 and down the road from the historic Hubbardton Battlefield lies one of Vermont’s newest state parks: Taconic Mountains Ramble. Drive down a dirt path and you’ll find the visitor’s center, which sits beside Mt. Zion on a hill overlooking the park’s Japanese gardens.
The land was unofficially open to the public for years, under the ownership of two-time Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker Carson “Kit” Davidson and his late wife, Mickie, who wrote children’s books. At the age of 92, Davidson passed away last October, leaving the 420 acres to the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation.
“Kit was a kind and grateful gentleman,” reads a note stuck to the visitor center’s bulletin board, “often sitting and looking out over the beautiful views you see today and proclaiming, ‘I am the luckiest man I know.’”
Along with the land, Davidson left a donation to Vermont Parks Forever, which will fund trail repairs, garden maintenance and the creation of a long-term management plan. But the park is already set up for visitors. During the 46 years the Davidsons owned the land, they sculpted it to fit the needs of hikers, Nordic skiers and anyone in need of a peaceful moment.
Note: This park is designated as “undeveloped.” There are no overnight stays, no smoking and no fires permitted. Though the park is open year-round, the Japanese Gardens are closed during mud season, and visitors are asked to park on Saint John Road and hike in.
Take a Waterfall or Wildflower Hike: The visitor’s center, which sits in the middle of a hilltop wildflower meadow, is your starting point. A path snakes through the open field, from which hikers can get 360-degree mountain views. The meadow is edged by woods crisscrossed by nine more trails, each with varying difficulty. Head to the Falls Trail, on the eastern side of the park, for waterfall views and a crossing at the top of the falls (waterproof boots recommended) with a cable to grasp as you cross. Head to the Cliff Trail on the park’s opposite side for more challenging terrain.
Find Your Zen in the Japanese Gardens: The gardens sit in a basin below the visitor’s center. Wander the rolling hills and find small statues, arched bridges and rock cairns, or find one of the Adirondack chairs and listen to the sound of a trickling fountain.
Catch up on Local History: It’s a short walk to historic Hubbardton Battlefield, where the Green Mountain Boys helped slow the advance of the Redcoats in 1777. —Emma Cotton