With its location at the base of Killington and Pico peaks and close proximity to the Appalachian and Long trails, this park is a favorite of hikers. Many through-hikers pass the park on their Appalachian Trail journey from Georgia to Maine. The park is also a popular destination during the fall foliage season for its dramatic autumn colors.
Established in 1931 when the state purchased 13 acres of land from Lee Pearsons, the park grew over the next two decades with a land donation from Walter K. Barrows and various land purchases. Mr. Barrows noticed that many passing motorists stopped at the spot to admire the large old trees growing on his property and decided that it should be protected by adding it to the newly established state park.
Today, Gifford Woods contains one of the few old-growth hardwood tree stands remaining in Vermont. The stand has many grand-sized sugar maple, beech, yellow birch, white ash and hemlock. The understory is rich with native wildflowers. In 1978, seven acres of forest in this area was designated the Gifford Woods Natural Area. An additional 13 acres was designated as Gifford Woods National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1980 because of the exemplary quality of the old-growth forest. To preserve the natural state of the Natural Area, no trails or development of any kind is permitted.
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