Hello everyone, this post is about our adventure to Woodford State Campground in Vermont. This campground is nestled high in the Green Mountain National Forest of, you guessed it, Woodford, which is about 15 minutes East of Bennington. This park stays open until Columbus day weekend so it is open a bit longer than other campgrounds that we have been to. Even though it is open longer it doesn’t rank very high on our list of places to go, at least during the summer. If you went here, we would suggest going early spring, or late fall, when the air is cool, if you really wanted to fully enjoy all of the benefits this place has to offer.
This campground is smaller is size, only stretching the length of the Adams Reservoir which is a relatively small body of water and home to only two species of fish, apparently, according to the Vermont fish and wildlife website. It seems to have a population of brown bullhead and brook trout that are regularly stocked by the State. Even though the fishing seems to have decent reviews, we cannot imagine the fishing being very good during the warm and busy season. On a positive note, there are many foot trails in the area and the great thing about the map, unlike many of the maps that we have seen, is they show all of the foot trails along with all of the actual sites. That said, the trails are nice but are still very plain so unless you are looking at the fall foliage, or introducing your children to the concept of hiking, they get boring quickly.
The waters here are peaceful since there are no motors allowed on the lake, what so ever. Therefore, with the absence of motorboats, and Jet Ski’s, the waters are filled with paddle boats, anglers, and lazy tubers, which is quite lovely. We did not see any garbage lying about, and for the most part the area was very clean and well kept. Even the bathrooms were quite nice, knotty pine, and tile, walls gave them a modern feel that you would typically find in tourist geared villages but these bathrooms are a lot cleaner since they get less traffic.
The campground also has a public picnic area for swimming, and enjoying the day so anyone can pay a small fee to spend the day by the water without actually staying at a campsite. This area is covered in grass, except for the public beach, which is actually sand. Aside from a few shady spots, this entire area receives full sun during the day making it the best area on the grounds by far. Our suggestion, if you camp here during the summer months, especially with children, is to get a campsite then spend most of your day in the public picnic area. Find your spot early in the morning, claim it, then from there adventure outward because, to be honest, the campsites, for the most part, are poor.
Now, the campsites themselves are split into four separate loops on the East bank, most of which are undesirable if what you are looking for is peace, quiet, or a good night sleep. The ground is mostly gravel and the rocks make it somewhat unsuitable for tent camping unless you have a blowup mattress. Otherwise, you are likely to spend your night like the princess and the pea… but with an entire bag of peas… and not a small bag, one of those deluxe green giant brand bags. The sites are big enough for RV’s but most do not leave you a whole lot of room for doing much else. We saw people with RV’s congregating in the roadway to drink a beer because there didn’t seem to be enough room on their site for everyone to fit comfortably.
Some of the “prime sites” are even smaller because they rest on a bank that, to us, is not suitable if you have small children with you. The pictures show site 39 and the back side of it which seems to get steeper the further you go. At the bottom of the bank is a 3-4 foot straight drop that is all mud. The shore is not suitable to fish from, to sit on, or to even launch a kayak from. Site 39 is even smaller than the picture shows since some of the bottom portion is actually the road. The lean-tos are a bit better but most of them are stacked on top of one another, one is on a gravel bank, much like site 39 but steeper, and it looks directly into the top of the two dumpsters at the base of it just beyond the fire pit. Another lean-to is next to the same pair of dumpsters with only a gravel driveway to separate them so we can only imagine the smell, that radiates from this area, is going to make for a bad time.
The cabins are quite a bit more desirable but only two in particular seemed to overlook the lake through a clearing in the trees. One of the great features about the cabins are that they seem to all have direct trails leading to the water. That area, however, also sees a lot of traffic since it is the same beach they seem to launch the boats from but it’s still a nice view. We really couldn’t get a good look at the inside of the cabins, since they were all occupied, but the website claims they are all knotty pine, have a bed, a couple of bunks, and basic electric with a ceiling fan and light. They also all have a covered porch and at $51.00-$53.00 a night, depending on residency and unless you can get the select few tent sites on our list, that will probably be your best option.
Fishing licenses are sold at the ranger station, which is a plus, along with rowboat, canoe, and kayak rentals but be sure to bring your wallet with you. A 1-day fishing license will run you about $21.00 and a 3-day will run you exactly $2.00 more. The 3-day is about $22.00 less if you are a Vermont resident, which we think is a bit absurd but it is what it is. We know other states do this, we know our state does it, we don’t agree with it but whatever. To us it just seems very petty to nickel and dime visitors to your state, especially when that state relies so much on tourism. To us, charging out of state residents so much extra doesn’t really help encourage people to come visit but it does go towards helping preserve the natural resources of the State so who’s to argue?
That said the park rangers did not seem to know too much about the local fishing laws, they did not seem to know about the fish species, in fact they didn’t seem to know anything too far outside of their assigned area. I assume they will suddenly know a lot more if you are doing something that you are not supposed to be doing since, in our experience, that is how it always seems to work out. You ask questions, get the go ahead, then get fussed at for doing that activity by someone else. Not that this scenario actually happened but we really felt like we were asking questions to a clueless employee in a large department store.
Anyway, the campground has a playground, which is little more than an old wood structure with a slide and monkey bars that nobody seems to use. This playground is in a large field that has a horseshoe pit and a basketball hoop. There is a sign that says horseshoes are available at the office, but we don’t know if you have to rent them or if they just let you use them. The campground beach is, basically, a gravel shore, with a bench, surrounded by trees so it is shaded much of the day. This beach, on the backside of the lake, seems to be mainly used as a boat launch, or to fish from.
This campground also has a group campfire circle that nobody seems to use either. This was interesting to us, since we had never seen one before, so naturally we were very curious about this feature. Sadly, though, even the two park rangers, we spoke to, did not know its purpose, stating, “I don’t know, for people to sit around and tell ghost stories or something? Nobody ever uses it.” What we were hoping to hear was that the campground started a fire in it, each night, and invited campers to congregate around it. Maybe to have the Rangers bestow some of their knowledge about the area, and the wildlife, or to help encourage campers to tell stories, but to our disappointment it was just a forgotten relic.
Lets Pro/Con this campground, this is something new that we are trying so please let us know how we did.
|* No motors on the lake.|
* Grassy Picnic Area.
* Grassy playground area.
* Bathrooms / Showers.
* Conveniently placed recycle
* Foot trails / sandy beach.
* Fishing licenses sold at office.
* 15 minutes from town.
* Boat rental options.
|* The ground is mostly gravel / |
* Sites are very open.
* Several sites are small or are very close together.
* Several sites are near dumpsters / bathrooms.
* “Prime” water sites are on steep
bank with drop off.
* Charge extra for “prime” sites.
* Vehicles frequently exceed speed
So with that said, here are our picks for Woodford state park, this site has a very useful interactive map where you can click on the campsites to see actual pictures. Most of them are a bit misleading or duplicated so we have included some of our own pictures.
Lets begin with the lean-to loop starting with Hornbeam, which runs parallel with the main entrance to the campground. The entire area is not very private with lean-to next to lean-to, here you will certainly be enjoying your camping experience with other people. Hornbeam, Ash, and Spruce are pretty close together facing the same direction. Birch, Cedar, Larch, and Hemlock are all very close together as well along with Balsam. At least Balsam is facing away from the other three which is why we assume it’s marked as a “Prime” site. Yew is on a bank overlooking the main road so that’s no good, Beech is the one you definitely want to stay away from though since that is the site that looks down into the dumpsters. That entire side between Yew and Beech, however, are just all on top of each other so, to us, its not really a desirable spot to be. Maple is the lean-to that is set next to the dumpsters, but at least with that site the lean-to itself is facing away from the garbage so that’s a plus. Out of all of the Lean-tos we think Oak and Balsam will be your best bet but be warned, the foot trail runs just beyond the sites.
Moving to the loop that runs between sites 1 and 12 is the worst loop on the grounds in our opinion. The main road is gravel, the sites are gravel and large rocks, and half of the sites surround the bathrooms. Sites 15 and 17 aren’t to bad, they have some grass at least but, again, they are on top of the bathrooms and showers. Sites 7 and 8 are tiny and one of the main foot trails run in between the two sites so they are likely to see a lot of traffic right up close and personal with your vehicle. We did like 22 and 23, although we couldn’t get a great look at them since they were occupied, they appeared to be fairly private, and they are near the water, 23 being the honey pot of the campground in our opinion.
The loop running the length of site 24 through site 55 are a bit better, but not much. Here the roadway is paved, site 25 is pretty large, more private, but again all gravel. 28, 29, 30, and 32 are ok, medium size sites, a bit more privacy than most, even a little grass. Sites 38 and 39 are small, near water, a bit more private, they have a view of the lake through the trees, but they have a bank with a drop off at the bottom if you want to access the water. That said the gravel here is a bit more fine so it may not be too bad even though 38 and 39 are fairly close together. You will probably want to stay away from 44, that’s small, has a large bank, and that’s the site where we saw people congregating in the main road because they didn’t seem to have enough room in their RV.
The loop running between sites 84 and the Walnut lean-to are a mess. Firstly we would recommend staying away from sites 85, 86, 87, 65 and 71 they are surrounding the bathrooms, showers, and faucet. Here you will find a ton of activity, it’s loud and has a lot of traffic. For the lean-tos Willow looks at Apple, Apple looks at Peach and are very close together so your best bet here would be Walnut since it is the most private but it is a very small site.
Sites 69 and 70 are tiny but they are private, they both have a nice view of the lake from the top of a very steep bank. Site 72 is just like sites 69 and 70 but its a bit larger is size. We wouldn’t recommend site 73 since part of the site is the main access to the playground, and beach, on the back side of the lake. Stay away from Sites 58, 59 and 81, unless you like spooning with total strangers, since they are right on top of each other. In this area sites 80, 82, 83, and 84 are very nice non-water sites. They are private, are fine gravel to sandy type soil with quite a bit of grass. 79 is also nice, its on a hill with wooden stairs, fine gravel to sand type soil, some grass, and is fairly private although you can hear the traffic from the shower/bathroom area echo through the trees. Site 56 is probably the most private, non-water, site out of them all. It’s over on the other side of the main roadway and even though the ground isn’t much better than most of the park, it’s quiet and would be another honeypot.
Finally the cabins are all pretty much the same, Gentian, in our opinion, is the best one out of the group since it has the best view of the lake, through the trees of course. All of the cabins seem to have their own little foot trails to the water but out of the four, Lady Slipper, Jack in the pulpit, and Trillium were set the furthest back. We were able to get a glimpse of the lake by Trillium, but couldn’t see much by the other two. Again we didn’t get too close since they were all occupied and we didn’t want to disturb anyone so its possible there may yet be a small view of the lake.
So here they are again, our list of go-to sites for the Woodford State campground in Vermont…
- Site 22
- Site 23 – Near Water (Honeypot)
- Site 38 – Near Water
- Site 39 – Near Water
- Site 79
- Site 82
- Site 83
- Site 84
- Site 56 (Honeypot)
- Cabin Gentian (Honeypot)
- Lean-to Oak
- Lean-to Balsam
Spencer and Kimberly are both on the fence about this one, ultimately Spencer gives this a thumbs up if, and only if, he were to go late fall, early spring. He is an outdoors-man at heart and he feels that this place may not be too bad with less traffic and better fishing due to the cooler air. Kimberly ultimately gives this place a thumbs down, even though it may be a good summer spot for the children the sites are just too undesirable for her liking.
We are still enchanted by the group campfire circle, to us it is a very interesting concept and could, quit possibly, be a lot of fun. So, if you came to this campground what would you do to get it started up in the middle of a hundred random strangers? Would you go around and ask people to join you? Would you post flyers? Who supplies the wood? Would you bring snacks for the kids? What would you talk about? We would love to hear your ideas below!