Park Update: Sections of the Colchester Pond trail are very wet and muddy from the recent rains (December 18, 2023) and a very wet summer. Please be prepared to get your feet wet and remember to stay on the trail and walk through the mud! This will help avoid further damage to trails. As the temperatures drop, sections can still remain muddy, but will also be icy – bring traction such as yak-tracks or micro-spikes.
Colchester Pond is an exciting spot to visit year-round. In early spring you’ll find an abundance of wildflowers including yellow Dutchmen’s britches and purple trout lily along the 3.5-mile trail that encircles the pond. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing paddle in the summer, and catch the amazing colors of autumn foliage. The pond is a favorite spot for fishing year round, with many anglers ice fishing in the winter.
This natural area has been designated an Important Birding Area (IBA) by the Vermont Audubon. Currently, several shrubland restorations and management projects are taking place to improve and manage habitat for songbirds. The pond is a natural pond that was enlarged by a manmade dam in the mid-1900s is a mile in length and covers 182 acres, about a quarter of the park property.
In addition to anglers, bird watchers, hikers, canoeists and kayakers, the pond is visited by many water birds, including Canada goose, mallard, great blue heron, Virginia rail, and the uncommon American bittern. Beavers also frequent the pond, so remember to bring your binoculars!
Barbed wire fences and stonewalls scattered throughout the forest indicate that much of the property was pasture at one time. Other signs of past human land use include an overgrown apple orchard at the northwest corner of the property, and an abundance of early successional trees such as bigtooth aspen, throughout the forest from past timber harvesting.
An aspect of Colchester Pond that sets it apart from other WVPD parks is its situation within a large tract of contiguous forest, extending from Indian Brook Reservoir in Essex to the Milton Town Forest. It is the only WVPD property where definite signs of bobcat and moose, two wide-ranging mammals, have been found. In all, 111 vertebrate wildlife species have been documented at Colchester Pond.
The WVPD asks for park users to please remain on the designated marked trails and to keep pets on a leash at all times while enjoying Colchester Pond! These efforts practiced by all help to maintain the natural integrity of the park for the many species of wildlife that it supports.
Enlarged Image of trail map: Colchester Pond Trail Map
Summer 2023 Trail Updates
Winooski Valley Park District received a grant for trail improvements from the Vermont Agency of Forest Parks & Recreation 2022 Recreation Trails Program. Work will include upgrades the 3.5-mile loop at the Colchester Pond Natural Area, including puncheon repairs and leveling, puncheon installation, root removal, water bar clearing, drainage dips, grade changes, and benching. WVPD is working with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps on the trail improvements.