Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests

The Green Mountain National Forest is located in the southwestern and west-central Vermont and the Finger Lakes National Forest is located in central New York. With 350,000 acres and over 500 miles of trails spanning more than two-thirds of Vermont, the Green Mountain National Forest offers near endless opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to get into the great outdoors year-round. From rugged mountain tops to secluded streams, you’ll discover the ideal place for every activity from hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing to canoeing and snowmobiling. The legendary Appalachian Trail and Long Trail run through the Green Mountain National Forest with a network of well-maintained shelters spaced a day’s hike apart.

History & Culture

The Green Mountain National Forest was established in 1932 after uncontrolled logging, fire and flooding ravaged the state of Vermont. Today, the Green Mountain National Forest has grown tract by tract to almost 400,000 acres that stretch across nearly two-thirds the length of Vermont. The mission of the Forest is to sustain, protect and enhance forest ecosystems. The Forest is within a day’s drive of 70 million people. The seventy-fifth anniversary of the establishment of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest will be marked on April 25, 2007. Encompassing a boundary area of approximately 629,000 acres roughly 385,000 (or 62%) is federally owned the Green Mountain is one of only two National Forests in the Northeast.

The Finger Lakes National Forest was formed out the Hector Land Use Area that was originally created during the Great Depression. Between 1890 and the Great Depression, over a million acres of farmland was abandoned in south central New York State. Between 1938 and 1941, over 100 farms were purchased in the area now in the National Forest. This land was named the Hector Land Use Area. When this region was later consolidated within the Forest Service’s Northeast Region, Hector became an administrative unit of the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont.

In 1982, Congress enacted legislation to make this a permanent part of the National Forest System and the Hector Ranger District, Green Mountain National Forest, had been created. In 1985, the forest became known as the Hector Ranger District, Finger Lakes National Forest so it would be less confusing to visitors and promote local pride about the area.


The Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests are a four-season recreation experience. The most popular season is autumn when the trees and pastures are ablaze with color. Autumn is also very popular for hunting in the woods and brush lands of the forest. Summer is popular for camping, hiking, horseback riding and fishing. Winter brings out cross country skiers, snowmobiles and snowshoe enthusiasts. In spring, the Forest bursts forth from the grip of winter with emerging leaves on the trees, bird flyway activity and numerous wildflowers that are visible along many of the Forest trails and pastures. The first fishing days are enjoyed by a lot of people. Mud season is usually short but intense. Going “off-road” and hiking on wet trails is not encouraged during this time. The Green Mountain receives ample snow for winter recreation activities. Sugarbush, Mount Snow and Bromley are three ski areas on the Forest. Killington is also located not far from the Forest.

The Green Mountain National Forest contains six designated Wilderness Areas. Big Branch Wilderness Area is part of the White Rocks National Recreation Area located on the northern half of the Manchester District. The White Rocks National Recreation Area also includes the Peru Peak Wilderness Area. The total White Rocks National Recreation Area lies within the towns of Dorset, Peru, Mt. Tabor, Wallingford, Mt. Holly and Weston. The 21,480-acre Breadloaf Wilderness is the largest wilderness on the Green Mountain National Forest. The 3,740-acre Bristol Cliffs Wilderness has no designated trails. The few rough footpaths leading into Bristol Cliffs soon fade away. Aitken Wilderness has no designated trails. This Wilderness sits on a plateau above 2,300 feet in elevation. Lye Brook Wilderness offers lakes, streams and bogs which are scattered throughout its heavily forested 15,680-acre landscape.

The Finger Lakes National Forest provides thousands of recreation acres with few restrictions. The Forest offers over 25 miles of multi-use trails open to hikers, cross-country skiers, equestrians and snowmobilers. These miles include the 12-mile Interloken National Recreation Trail and two miles of the Finger Lakes Trail. Features along the paths include beautiful and spacious pastures, deep cool ravines and varied forest types.

Traveler Facts

Contact Information
Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests
231 North Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701
Phone: 802-747-6700

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Finger Lakes National Forest
5218 State Route 414
Hector, NY, 14841
Phone: 607-546-4470

Vermont and Upstate New York areas experience four distinct seasons. Winters can be very cold, with plenty of snow for winter recreation activities. Spring and autumn are transitional periods, with normally mild temperatures but occasional seasonal fluctuations. The area is renowned for its spectacular autumn colors. Summers bring mild to warm temperatures.

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