Merck Forest and Farmland Center (MFFC) is a nonprofit educational organization with the mission to teach and to demonstrate the benefits of innovative sustainable management of forest and farmland. Their property includes a 3,100-acre managed forest and a 62-acre farm, on which they produce Vermont-Certified Organic maple syrup and pasture-raised pork and lamb products, and have over 30 miles of forest trails to explore. They offer demonstrations, classes and apprenticeship programs, as well as recreational and volunteer opportunities for individuals, families and school groups. Visitors may visit the farm or venture into the forest to hike, ride horseback, cross-country ski, snowshoe, or stay overnight in rustic cabins or lean-tos. These offerings enable visitors to connect with MFFC's farm and forest through meaningful experiences with a working landscape.
The Center is open to the public year-round, seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. Merck Forest and Farmland Center is located between Rupert and Dorset, at the top of the very large hill on Route 315 (Rupert Mountain Road).
Enjoy a Walk on the Farm
Merck Forest is located in the northern Taconic Range, and sits above the valley at 1800+ feet in elevation. The views at Merck Forest are spectacular! From the farm, you can see the Adirondack Mountains to the west, the Greens to the east, and the Taconics stretching to the north. On a very clear day, you can see the High Peaks of the ADKs. Page Pond is a popular place to explore, where frogs and salamanders abound. Visit their draft horses, Fern and Arch, or say hello to the lambs. Check out their Sap House and trace the sap lines from above the fields to the "Marshmallow" to the evaporator. Picnic tables are available, or spread a blanket under the maples by the Harwood Barn.
With over 3,200 acres and 30 miles of trails, the folks at Merck have never found the trails to be crowded. Visitors should be mindful of social distancing and to wear a mask when that distancing is not possible.
Trails are marked with metal signs throughout the property. The Farm Trail starts to the left of the gate by the Visitor Center and kiosk. Old Town Road goes straight to the farm, and the Discovery Trail trailhead is just off the loop in front of the Visitor Center. Trail maps are available online and a limited number may be found in the kiosk. People are encouraged to sign in at the kiosk.
The trails are not wheelchair friendly. However, the road straight to the farm is accessible.
Off Limit Areas
All buildings, including outhouses, are closed until further notice. Do not enter animal pastures. All fences can be assumed to be electric. If visiting Page Pond, you do so at your own risk. There is no swimming in the pond.
Dogs are welcome and must be leashed. Horses are welcome and must stay on roads.
Extra Info for Walkers
- There is an outhouse at the Visitor Center and another at the farm for public use.
- Please park in the parking lot to the right after coming up the access road. Do not park around the circle in front of the Visitor Center. Cars are not allowed beyond the Visitor Center.
- There is some cell service depending on your carrier
- Merck Forest, starting at the Visitor Center, is a back country setting, meaning that it can take upwards of 1 hour for emergency personnel to arrive if needed. We ask that visitors "keep it mellow and explore with caution." Visitors should not count on the availability of staff to assist in case of an emergency. There is an emergency phone on the side room of the Visitor Center, as well as a first aid kit and AED.
- Please do not rely solely on GPS: once you reach the top of the big, big hill on 315, turn into Merck Forest's Driveway. If you start going downhill, you've missed it!
- Their own organic maple syrup is available for sale online, at www.merckforest.org.
Are you visiting from outside of Vermont? You must follow all Vermont public health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus in our state. Read the updated guidelines before you set out to visit a farm.
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