Vermont’s newest state park is appropriately named — Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is a unique collection of hiking trails meandering over 204 acres of fields, forests, gorges, cliffs, and gardens. The best way to explore these beautiful paths is to pack a picnic and ramble around. Warblers, robins, thrushes, phoebes, and bobolinks will provide the soundtrack.
Located in Hubbardton, Vermont, Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park was donated to the state of Vermont in 2016, after long-time resident, Carson “Kit” Davidson passed away. Kit and his wife, Mickie bought 450 Hubbardton acres in 1966 for $69 an acre and proceeded to create a rambling oasis of trails, as well as a peaceful Japanese garden.
From the very beginning, Kit and Mickie welcomed hikers to their land and even provided trail maps for visitors to use while exploring.
My visit during July of 2020 was my first time exploring Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park, but it definitely won’t be my last! It’s one of the most unique and beautiful Vermont State Parks that I’ve been to yet.
Important Details for Visiting Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park
Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park
Activities: hiking, birdwatching
Open: Year-round (in winter park beyond the gate)
Dogs: Yes, on leash
Directions via Google Maps
Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is an undeveloped park with no amenities other than a single porta-potty near the parking area. Be sure to pack in water and be prepared to carry out what you carry in.
Dogs are permitted at Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park, But there are a few trails that are impossible for dogs to navigate (Alyssa Trail to the top of Mount Zion Major). If you do bring your dog, I’d stick to the Eastern Trails, where you will see far fewer people, if any.
The park is open for day-use only, and you are asked not to smoke or have fires on the property. As long as visitors follow these few simple rules, they are free to access the trails and enjoy this beautiful park in all seasons free of charge.
This park is easy to find with your GPS and should definitely be a part of a Vermont weekend getaway that includes Lake Bomoseen, Half Moon Pond State Park, and the Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site. If you’re camping at Half Moon Pond State Park (my recommendation), Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is a 7.5-mile drive. If you’re camping at Bomoseen State Park (great for kids), it’s about 16 miles.
Pick a nice day to explore this park, wear sturdy hiking shoes and bug spray, and pack a picnic to enjoy in the Japanese garden.
Hiking the trails around Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park will take between three and five hours, including your picnic lunch, which I think is mandatory. The trails range from leisurely strolls to heart-pumping walks along monolithic cliffs.
What to Pack for Your Hike (in the Summer)
The Japanese Garden
You can access the elaborate Japanese Gardens by walking down a steep hilly trail just past the private residence of the park manager. This is a favorite spot for kids, with numerous footbridges, small frog-filled pools, and giant boulders.
Adirondack chairs are placed strategically throughout the garden, but the coolest one is bolted on top of a boulder that can only be accessed by climbing a wooden ladder. The Japanese Garden is a great spot to relax with a picnic, and the views are pretty stellar from any point in the garden. You can also access both the eastern and western trails from here.
Best Hiking Trails in Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park
Before you start rambling, be sure you have a map. You can grab one at the entrance kiosk (or take a picture of it). If you’re uber-prepared like me, print up your map before you leave home.
I will admit that I found the trail map to be a bit confusing, and did lose my way a few times. I was in no danger of getting really lost, but there are so many trails that crisscross around the park, and it’s hard to keep them all straight. Also, some of the meadow trails are not on the map.
Eastern vs. Western Trails
The eastern trails meander through meadows and woodlands with lots of sweeping views. They are easy, with very gradual elevation gain and perfect for dogs and kids. The meadows are brimming with wildflowers and birds in the summer, and the waterfalls and gorge are fun to explore in the spring.
The western trails are more technical and rocky, with steep climbs along rocky paths and even some scrambling in spots. There is a lot to see here, from massive boulders to incredible views from the tops of Mount Zion Major and Minor. Not all of these trails are suitable for dogs or small children, as there steep drops to watch out for. I don’t recommend tackling Mount Zion Major or Minor if the rocks are slippery.
It’s difficult to give an overview of specific trails and paths because you can combine different trails to create all sorts of loops of varying lengths.
Best Eastern Trails
- North Woods Trail and Meadow Path Loop: A gentle walk through meadows, past a large white pine and a colossal elm tree, and then into the woods for an easy woodland hike back to the access road. Unfortunately, I don’t have exact mileage info, but this walk took us about an hour.
- Meadow Path, Falls Trail, and Woods Road Loop: Start in the Japanese Garden and head south through the meadow. Cross Monument Hill Road and enter the woods. Now you will climb up and down a bit before you come to a steep gorge with numerous pools and small waterfalls. The falls are seasonal and may be dried up in the summer, but it’s still a lovely area to explore. Pop back into the meadow and continue back to the parking area. Approximate time: 2 hours.
Best Western Trails
- Mount Zion Major: This is a short steep trail with great views of the fields and distant mountains. Start on the Spring Trail near the home of the park manager. Cross a bridge and begin your ascent. Mount Zion Major is 1,220 feet with awesome views along the ridge. Follow the red blazes as the trail descends steeply back into the forest. Total hiking time is about an hour.
- Mount Zion Minor and Moot Point: Another steep climb with fabulous views. Start in the Japanese Garden and take the red-blazed Garden Trail and take a sharp left toward Moot Point. A short, steep ascent will bring you to the ridge of Mount Zion Minor with awesome views to the east. Next, follow the ridge and follow the Moot Point Trail that follows a mossy ledge and ascends to another ridge called Moot Point, which provides views of the mountains and valleys on both sides. Return to the red-blazed trail and descend back into the woods where you can return to the parking area on the red-blazed Spring Trail.
The best part about Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park is the varied terrain and wide-open views! It is a quiet park that is well-named, as rambling is definitely the best way to explore. Whether you’re looking for quiet reflection or an exhilarating climb, you’re sure to find it at Vermont’s newest state park. Visit Vermont State Parks to read more about Taconic Mountains Ramble State Park.
Want to learn more about adventuring in Vermont State Parks? We’ve got loads of resources in our Vermont Vacation Guide for Outdoor Lovers, or you can jump straight to these posts about our favorite parks:
- Vermont State Parks near Burlington: A Weekend on Lake Champlain
- Groton State Forest: A Secret Vermont Treasure
- Canoeing the Connecticut River from Wilgus State Park
- Why Little River State Park is the Best Vermont State Park for Families
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