Dummer’s War raged in Vermont between 1722 and 1725. That conflict is largely forgotten now, but the remnants of the first permanent European settlement in the Green Mountain State remain behind. Visitors to today’s Fort Dummer State Park can do more than touch base with our past. They can also hike, camp, and enjoy other outdoor activities. These dense woods attract lots of four-legged creatures as well, so wildlife viewing at Fort Dummer State Park is always a treat.
Fort Dummer State Park’s RV campground blends in with the rustic nature of this place, along with its now-ancient settlement history. The comfortable 50-site RV campground has lots of amenities, but electrical hookups are not one of them. So, if you want to watch TV documentaries about early Vermont, stay at home. If you want to experience this place for yourself, pack your motorhome and take the short drive to Fort Dummer State Park.
Back in the day, what later became Interstate 91 was the dividing line between European and Native American societies in New England. Today, this wide and well-maintained thoroughfare is the best way to leave the Boston-to-Philadelphia corridor behind and enjoy nature. Most people start from Springfield and head north into the park, which is about seven miles north of the Massachusetts-Vermont line.
Parking is available near the main trailheads, the day use area, and a historic rock quarry. The summer-only Fort Dummer State Park is open between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend.
Like pretty much every other part of Fort Dummer State Park, the RV campground has many wooded and gently sloping areas. But the parking spots themselves are firm and level. This motorhome campground also has plenty of space. The park’s 50 well-spaced, back-in RV parking spots are arranged in three loops. The smaller two loops share a restroom/shower area, and the larger loop has a restroom/shower area all its own. Shade is definitely not a problem here, because this part of the Vermont/New Hampshire borderland has some of the last unspoiled forests in the area. Campground amenities include an RV dump station, large recycling bin, and several drinking water spigots. The campground offers easy access to the recreation field, picnic area, and main hiking trails. So, feel free to stay for a weekend or even longer.
Even though the forest is almost as thick as it was in pre-Columbian days, a lot has changed since the English abandoned Fort Dummer shortly after the French and Indian War. When engineers dammed the Connecticut River in 1909, the original Fort site slipped underwater. However, there’s an overlook on the one-mile Sunrise Trail that points out the original Fort Dummer site. For most of the way, this trail gently slopes through ancient forests. Fittingly, the Sunset Trail is in the western part of the park. The half-mile loop trail offers nice views of the surrounding communities, some of which are almost as old as Fort Dummer. Finally, there’s the half-mile Broad Brook Trail. This trail is quite steep in parts, but it ends at a popular swimming hole. So it’s a yin-yang thing.
Most of Fort Dummer State Park's hiking trails are also open to mountain bikes. For something challenging, try one of the longer and steeper trails. Or, for something completely different, take the family for a bicycle ride along the park's main dirt roads. Enjoy the scenery and get a little exercise while you're at it.
Pretty much the only plot of land not covered by canopy is the recreation field near the RV park. This meadow has prepared gaming places, like horseshoe pits and a volleyball net. There’s also plenty of space for other activities in the warm Vermont summer sun.
Fort Dummer State Park’s picnic area is in one of the most diverse parts of the park. It’s next to a marsh and a rock quarry. To reach it, drive your RV to the parking area or hike part of the Sunset Trail. The area has plenty of tables. Or, just find a nice spot on the meadow and spread a blanket. Barbecue grills are available as well.
The area near the picnic tables is also a good place to see wildlife. Numerous land animals, such as squirrels and deer, find shelter under the towering oak and birch trees. Since the park is usually not very crowded, many of these shy animals sometimes venture to the lake shore for a drink. Foxes, coyotes, and even black bears are more common deeper in the woods.
All the tall trees make Fort Drummer State Park a popular destination for migratory birds in the spring and fall. There are lots of permanent residents as well. So, if you're into birding, have your score card ready in the campervan. Common species include ruffed grouse, yellow bellied sapsucker, least flycatcher, black-throated green warbler, and rose-breasted grosbeak.