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Vaughan Woods State Park was officially established upon the demise of the Maine Vaughan family lineage. The history of this small tract of land is long and storied. The patch of land was sold to the Vaughan family in 1661; however, they didn’t establish residency until 1791. The property remained in the family for generations until 1949 when the last surviving descendant, Elizabeth Vaughan, left the land to the state of Maine. Shortly after, she passed, and the land changed ownership. Maine officially established the property as a state park in the early 1950s.
Although Vaughan Woods State Park is small with only around 250 acres, the setting makes for a pleasant afternoon of picnics, play, and short hikes. The state park consists of rolling grassy lawns surrounded by thick strands of woods consisting of trees that are believed to be older than the United States. The original homestead, which is situated on a rolling green lawn, has been restored to its original condition and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The closest large town is across the New Hampshire-Maine state border. Somersworth, NH, is about eight miles to the northwest of Vaughan State Park. Somersworth is a small but thriving community of around 12,000. Several homes and buildings in the downtown area known as “The Hill” were constructed in Victorian style, and a majority have been restored to their former glory.
Vaughan Woods State Parks is home to one of the last few untouched groves of old-growth trees that are centuries old. Walking underneath the massive boughs of the towering pine trees is a magical experience. Overhead, the green branches reach out to one another, knitting together to form a lacy canopy that filters sunlight in hazy beams. In the background, nearby Salmon Falls River gurgles and burbles, accompanied by the merry chirps of songbirds in the shrubs and trees. Though the trails are short, they’re no less scenic. One trail runs parallel to the dramatic Salmon Falls River, winding and weaving through thick groves of trees. On a quiet morning, hikers may find fishermen plying their trade from the banks, patiently waiting for trout and bass to bite.
Another trail meanders through the heart of the Vaughan Woods State Park, crossing small gullies that are made passable by bridges constructed out of hand-hewn logs. To either side of a trail, poison ivy, ferns, mosses, and other woodland plants blanket the forest floor in verdant, lush green. Note that hikers are cautioned to check for ticks; they run rampant in this part of Maine.
On a hot day, head over to the swim beach that lines the Salmon Falls River. Fish in Salmon Falls River from the banks anywhere away from the beach. Fishermen can expect to catch rainbow and brook trout and a couple of other less-common trout species.
Surrounding Vaughan Woods State Parks are acres upon acres of state forests, state parks, preserves, and other types of wilderness parks. Nearby Belknap Mountain Range boasts a wide range of outdoor recreational activities for hikers, adventurers, and explorers to engage in. Hike, horseback ride, fish, or swim. In wintertime, the fun doesn’t stop. As soon as snow blankets the region hit the transformed woods on a pair of cross-country skis, snowshoes, or snowmobile. Drill holes with large augurs into the ice that lid lakes and ponds to catch fish that lurk in the dark, chilly water down below.
In an ideal world, one could rent a camper and enjoy the magical woods of Vaughan Woods State Park. Unfortunately, there are no established campgrounds within its boundaries. On the upside, there are several campgrounds within 15 miles of the park.
Book an RV in York County and RV camp near Berwick, at Beaver Dam Campground. With 60 roomy RV sites, campers have plenty of amenities and features to enjoy. Several RV sites are waterfront, and all guests have access to restrooms with showers, planned activities, and full or partial hookups. WiFi also is available should one feel the need to get in touch with civilization.
Alternatively, one could hit the Maine coast at Libby’s Oceanside Campground near York, ME. Over half of the RV sites are waterfront, and though there is no sandy beach to speak of, the views of the ocean are fantastic. All sites have full hookups and WiFi. Pets are allowed, which is a nice plus, too.
Another camping candidate to consider is Moody Beach RV Campground in Wells. The luxury RV resort boasts high-class amenities like a dazzling swimming pool, rec room stocked with fun games, laundry facilities, and even a ballroom.
Though the deep, rich woods are hard to walk out of, there are many towns with history, charm, and interesting shops to explore. Search for the perfect RV camping souvenir to take home when you are strolling through these charming locations.
Along the way, stop in York, where a rickety bridge crosses a small bay. The locals have nicknamed it the “Wiggly Bridge.” It’s considered a test of one’s character to cross the bridge that appears to be on the verge of crumbling over a cliff.
Though many small towns operate regional museums that spotlight the area’s history and culture, the maritime and naval history are equally rich and vibrant. In Portsmouth, is USS Albacore, a decommissioned submarine is open to tours. Get a glimpse into what life was like for the Navy servicemen aboard this tiny seafaring vehicle. The museum has on display various artifacts, documents, and other items of interest related to Navy history.
At the end of a long day of exploring, kick up your heels outside an RV rental, and look skyward. Though there are a handful of towns around, light pollution is fairly minimal when compared with a large city like New York City. It is easy to discern celestial bodies like the Milky Way with the naked eye as you enjoy your outdoor adventure at Vaughan Woods State Park.