Green Mountain National Forest - White Rocks National Recreation Area

The White Rocks National Recreation Area (WRNRA) is located in the northern half of the Manchester District in the Green Mountain National Forest of Vermont. The WRNRA offers unique and diverse recreational opportunities. The area lies within the five towns of Dorset, Peru, Mt. Tabor, Wallingford, Mt. Holly, and Weston in the south-central part of the state. It includes over 36,000 acres and contains two congressionally designated Wilderness areas: Big Branch and Peru Peak.

The land is rich in cultural history. Both Native Americans and European settlers relied on its natural resources. Until the 1930s, the entire area was used for farming, intensive logging, industry and settlement. The forest you see may be the third or fourth forest to occupy the area in the last 200 years. Much of the area was owned by a large logging company from the early 1800s to the 1930s. Forests were first cut for softwood lumber, then for charcoal production. Since 1900, the emphasis has been hardwood sawlog and pulpwood production.

The Forest Service acquired this part of the National Forest in the 1930s. On June 19, 1984, the U.S. Congress passed the Vermont Wilderness Act designating 36,400 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest lands as the White Rocks National Recreation Area. Working with the public, the Green Mountain National Forest developed a management strategy for the WRNRA. This strategy emphasizes preservation and protection of wild values, maintenance of wildlife habitat, and opportunities for backwoods recreational experiences. Logs and pulpwood are provided to local timber markets as a by-product of some management practices.

Whether you prefer a steep hike to a mountaintop view or a quiet stroll through the woods to a remote meadow, White Rocks NRA has the trail for you. Trails vary in difficulty and length. The Appalachian and Long Trail system covers over 30 miles and runs the length of the NRA. These trails, maintained with the Green Mountain Club, include 7 shelters and 2 group campsites.

Secondary trials, including day hikes and loops, abound. Some notables routes are:

  • Lake Trail to Baker Peak Trail off Rte. 7; moderate to difficult.
  • Mad Tom Notch (Forest Road 21) on AT/LT to Styles Peak; short but difficult.
  • Green Mountain Trail opposite Big Branch parking lot on FR10; moderate to difficult.
  • Griffith Lake Trail (Forest Road 58); easy.
  • Old Job Trail south to Griffith Lake; long and easy.
  • Forest Road 17 near Jenny Coolidge Brook to Beaver Meadows; easy.
  • Greendale Meadows Trail north of Greendale Campground; easy.Remember, vehicles, mountain bikes, horses, and llama packing are only allowed on forest roads open to motorized use and not on trails.

Winter opportunities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snowshoeing. The 12-mile Catamount Ski Trail, maintained jointly with the Catamount Trail Association, allows cross-country skiers access to unique parts of the NRA. Sixty-one miles of snowmobile trails traverse the non-wilderness portion of the NRA and are maintained jointly with the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers. View the woods in the winter on Corridor 7, a trail winding from FR58 to destinations farther north.

For more information and detailed maps, conact the Manchester Ranger District at:

Routes 11 and 30

RR #1, Box 1940

Manchester Center, VT 05255


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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