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Coolidge State Park offers miles of hiking trails

PLYMOUTH-It may be that summer is over but outdoor recreation is still viable in Vermont. Case in point: I hiked a trail at beautiful Coolidge State Park last week just as the leaves began to change. The Coolidge State Forest, of which the park is a small parcel, contains a total of 18,511 acres scattered throughout seven towns. To get there from Plymouth, just travel at the junction of Route 100 and Route 100A. Then, travel two miles north on Route 100A to reach the park.

A brief history states that this park was the birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, a Vermont resident. Here, the Coolidge homestead is maintained by the Vermont Board of Historic Sites complete with the furnishings that were present the night of his inauguration in 1923.

It was in 1925 when Perry Merrill purchased a tract of land in Plymouth; he began to put together his dream of Calvin Coolidge State Forest. Because the land was near the Calvin Coolidge homestead, an historic site that interested many people, he believed funds could be obtained to develop the area.

Today, the recreational heart of the forest is at Coolidge State Park. The park makes up 500 acres in the forest's eastern district.

The park includes a campground, picnic area and an established hiking trail system. Coolidge State Park offers camping, picnicking, an established hiking trail system, hunting and a playground. Cross-country skiing permitted in winter by walking around entrance gate; all facilities closed including restrooms.

My friend and I spent the afternoon enjoying a picnic lunch in Vermont's great outdoors at the park. Then we went on to explore the scenic trails of the network system and saw several gorgeous views of nearby hills. There was plenty of wildlife to be seen including a riot of plant life. We observed sweeping vistas of the Black River Valley and the Green Mountain range. Within the park, there are miles of hiking trails to explore, several streams home to elusive brook trout, and abundant wildlife. If you're lucky you may enjoy a glimpse of a barred owl, a moose, or black bear. But be careful and do not taunt wildlife.

This unique forested park offers a perfect nearby escape for us busy Vermonters-an increasing number in recent decades.

There are fees to access the park. Talk with the park's staffers to learn more or call 672-3612 before you visit. You can also get better prepared for your adventure by visiting the state park website at www.vtstateparks.com/htm/coolidge.cfm.

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