Vermont Reopens the Outdoors, With Caveats

On Wednesday, May 6 Governor Scott announced that Vermont’s outdoors were once again open for recreation, though opening campgrounds, marinas and beaches is something Gov. Scott says “you’ll hear about in the next week or so.” Organized sports games, though are still a “no-go.”

As Julie Moore, Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources, noted: “Although pools and beaches are recommended to remain closed for the time being, biking, hiking, walking, running golf, tennis, horseback riding boating and paddle sports, fishing, hunting photography and nature walks are all available for the taking.”

The language in today’s ADDENDUM 13 TO EXECUTIVE ORDER 01-20 states:

Effective May 7, 2020, all businesses and non-profit and government entities which support or offer outdoor recreation and outdoor fitness activities that require low or no direct physical contact may begin operations, subject to compliance with the health and safety guidelines and training requirements set out below, and applicable Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) guidance. These include, but are not limited to state and municipal parks, recreation associations, trail networks, golf courses, big game check stations and guided expeditions. Campgrounds, marinas and beaches shall not be opened at this time. In addition, all businesses and non-profit and government entities which support or offer outdoor recreation and fitness activities must implement the following measures:

• Require Vermonters participating in outdoor recreation and fitness activities to “arrive, play and leave.” Groups may not congregate before or after activities, for example, no tailgating.

• Post signage and institute registration processes that reinforce outdoor facilities are only open to Vermonters and those who have met the 14-day quarantine requirement.

• Post signage, discouraging contact sports and games.

• Eliminate services or transactions that result in touch points and/or staff-customer interactions that are not absolutely necessary.

Reduce high contact surfaces and common areas, including closing waiting areas, removing picnic tables, closing play structures, and offering only  equipment that can and will be thoroughly disinfected between users.

• Close indoor facilities that require in-person transactions (such as lobbies, pro-shops and other small retail operations, bars and restaurants), and deliver goods and services for curbside pickup, delivery or via online portals.

• Restroom facilities may only be opened if they can be regularly cleaned and disinfected in accordance with VDH/CDC guidelines.

Secretary Moore’s announcement came with caveats: “So many of us are desperate to get outdoors and enjoy it right now. But we can’t all go to the same place at the same time. I challenge you to discover new parts of Vermont... Give some rest to our most well known and most visited outdoor treasures and seize the opportunity to play tourist here in Vermont.”

Moore added: “Our state has more than 750,000 acres of public land, including  55 state parks and a network of trails that spans public and private lands that total some 5,000 miles, Vermont also has more than 800 lakes and ponds and the Fish and Wildlife Department maintains more than 190 developed fishing access areas.”

Gov. Scott added, “We’re opening up some recreational opportunities for Vermonters. For those coming from away to our state, please stay home for now and if you do come, plan to stay awhile.”

For outdoor recreation businesses and trail organizations, “such as Kingdom Trails,” Gov. Scott suggested they submit a plan for reopening. Updates will be posted at and at the Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks and Recreation websites.

To see what trails are open, visit State Lands Trail Status.5.6.  And keep in mind, it’s still mud season in parts.For more ideas on where to go, see: 

24 Bucket List Hikes Near Burlington

5 Rail Trails To Ride In Vermont

However, The Green Mountain National Forest posted late in the day on May 6 that many of its campgrounds and shelters were closed, including:

Rochester Ranger District: Bingo Campground, Chittenden Brook Campground, Moosalamoo Campground and Silver Lake Campground.

Manchester Ranger District: Greendale Campground, Grout Pond Campground, Hapgood Pond Campground, Somerset Campground, and Old Job (shelter).

Appalachian Trail and Long Trail Shelters and Privies: Churchill Scott, Governor Clement, Clarendon (privy only), Stony Brook, Winturri, Thistle Hill, Happy Hill, Minerva Hinchey, Greenwall, Little Rock Pond, Big Branch, Lost Pond, Griffith Lake, Peru Peak, Bromley, Spruce Peak, Douglas, Stratton Pond, Story Spring, Kid Gore, Goddard, Melville Nauheim, Congdon and Seth Warner.

Long Trail Shelters and Privies: Battell (Mt. Abe), Cooley Glen, Emily Proctor, Skyline Lodge, Boyce, Sucker Brook, Sunrise and Tucker Johnson.

The Governor’s May 6 announcement follows a gradual relaxing of the stay-at-home orders first issued on March 24. As of late April, trail groups were permitted to do maintenance on trails.

The Green Mountain Club, which had previously announced that the Long Trail, all side trails and shelters would be closed (and recommended that thru-hikes be postponed until next year), noted on May 2, that its Bolton Valley rental cabins, Bolton Lodge and Bryant Camp, would open for reservations for the summer of 2020 through the winter of 2021 on May 15th at 10 AM. For GMC members,  24-hour early booking period begins on May 14th at 10 am with 20 percent off.

Kingdom Trails is still closed due to mud season conditions and, as Executive Director Abby Long wrote, “When we do believe we can open, we will be taking a very conservative approach and want to stress that operations will not go back to ‘normal.’ “
Long emphasized that “There will also be specific rules to recreate responsibly on our trails that follow physical distancing, health and sanitation measures in accordance with VDH, CDC and ACCD guidelines. These rules will even include proper parking procedures at trail access points. Our expanded and improved Ambassador Program will safely be able to assist trail users in navigating these new policies. The Kingdom Trails Welcome Center will not be opening for in person sales or interactions. We will only be selling Annual Individual and Family Memberships online through our website.   A comprehensive reopening plan with safety guidelines is currently being worked on and will be available in the near future.”

Oregon has also opened its outdoors. State officials announced that more than 100 Oregon state parks would reopen as of  May 6 and the governor’s office would announce the reopening of ski areas. “Ski resorts would also be allowed to reopen soon as part of a new executive order that the governor’s office said would be released soon,” reported KATU news.

Opening photo: Pro trailbuilders and volunteers have created a mountain bike network of singletrack, flowing trails at Endless Brook at Slate Valley Trails near Poultney, Vt.. At present, Slate Valley Trails are only open to local riders who don’t need to park. Photo: Chuck Heifer*


[Updated May 7]

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