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Molly Stark State Park in Vermont was named for Molly Stark, who, among many actions, campaigned for smallpox vaccinations and nursed her husband’s troops. Her husband was a general in the American Revolutionary War, and he was best known for this rallying cry on the eve of a battle, “There are your enemies, the Red Coats and the Tories. They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!” Molly Stark was revered for her efforts to bring health care to Vermont and her contributions to the war, and many local landmarks, including a mountain, a highway, and cannon, are named for her.
The area that would later become Molly Stark State Park was logged and converted into farmlands in the 19th century. In the 1930s, individuals donated land, and the local Civilian Conservation Corps, as a part of the New Deal, replanted trees and built a couple of structures. Molly Stark State Park was officially established in 1960.
The closest town is Wilmington, about four miles west, which has a handful of charming shops and restaurants lining its main street. For more variety in shopping options, as well as access to emergency health care, Brattleboro is about 15 miles to the east. Jumpstart your perfect RV camping adventure and book an RV in Windham County, VT.
Though the woods in Molly Stark State Park are comprised of young trees, only a few decades old, they tower overhead on leggy trunks. The delicate branches of aspens and birches reach out, forming a lacy canopy that leaks sunlight in dappled blotches on the forest floor. The ground is blanked by delicate ferns that curl, protecting the tiny woodland flowers beneath their fronds. The sole trail meanders some 1.7 miles to the fire lookout tower. The tower, no longer used by the state forestry department to watch for smoke or wildfire, is open to the public. The stairs, which are encased in steel girders, zig-zag its way up to the observation platform. Patient hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the rolling, tree-clad mountains.
The Hogback Mountain Conservation Area, which snugs up against Molly Stark State Park, offers several miles of hiking trails, which links up with Molly Stark State Park’s sole trail. Most of these trails spider out, some descending into valleys while others ascend. One leads up to what Hogback Mountain Conservation Area is best known for: the “100-mile view” atop the Hogback Mountain. On a good, clear day, it’s said that hikers can see Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Wildlife runs rampant in these woods. In addition to the ubiquitous white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, and bobcats are common. Though actual sightings of these creatures are rarely reported, people often see scats and prints in the soft soil.
When winter rolls around, the fun doesn’t stop. The park is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Nearby towns have the necessary equipment available for rent.
A few miles to the north, Mount Snow near West Dover, VT, is a popular recreational park for many locals and out-of-town adventurers. In the summertime, the ski resort converts to a world-class mountain biking park. The ski lifts remain open, too, giving hikers, photographers, and other adventurers a lift to the top of the mountain. In wintertime, the ski resort boasts 86 unique runs ranging from easy to challenging. It’s also the first ski resort in the northeast to install high-speed lifts, which can transport skiers to the top in under seven minutes.
Many outdoor adventurers have the fantasy of waking up surrounded by nature, serenaded awake by the sound of birdsong. Skip enduring holey tents that let rain and bugs in by renting a camper instead. RV camp at Molly Stark State Park to fulfill this fantasy. Though it’s a small campground with only 23 RV sites, that means it’s also a quiet one. The dense underbrush, acting as a screen, adds to the illusion of remoteness and solitude.
Although there are no hookups, the restrooms have hot and cold water for campers to use, and coin-operated showers. The campground is open only between May and October. Well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome here, so don't forget to bring Fido.
Chock full of history and old-world charm, exploring the small mountain towns of Vermont is practically a requirement for any visitor. Traveling from town to town is made more comfortable in a motorhome rental. In the downtown area of Wilmington, a statue of Molly Stark stands proudly. Country Store, which is reported to be the oldest continually-operating store in the state, was opened in 1836. It has operated as a candy store since the 1960s, selling fudge, cheese, chocolate, and syrup made by Vermont artisans and crafters.
Learn about the local native wildlife at the Southern Vermont Natural History Museum in Marlboro. The museum displays one of the largest collections of native wildlife in the northeast, and it also boasts a large display of local minerals and gems.