Merck Forest

Nearly 70 years’ experience of innovative and sustainable forest management

Our story

Most of Vermont’s modern forests were open fields a century ago, when agriculture dominated land use.

When George Merck began acquiring the parcels of land which now make up Merck Forest and Farmland Center, he experimented with innovative and sustainable forest management.

Trails

Merck Forest offers over 30 miles of well-marked trails for hiking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing. Beautiful views of the Taconic Hills and Adirondack Mountains abound. 

Please check in and out at the kiosk located near the Visitor Center. Cellphone and GPS services are unreliable around the property.

maple syrup jars

Our current sugarbush is located on a north-facing slope and features roughly 3,000 taps. Installed in the winter of 2012, our thirty-five-acre sugarbush is easily accessible and managed by our staff and apprentices.

For sixty years we’ve been producing maple syrup at Merck. Equipment and techniques used may have evolved, but our commitment to  demonstrate “best practices” in producing  Vermont’s iconic product remains constant.

Sugarbush Schedule:

No two seasons are alike, but here’s a general idea of what maple-related activities you can expect while visiting through the year. 

This is the exciting time of year! As nighttime temperatures plunge and daytime temps go above freezing, the sap begins to run.

Staff members run the wood-fired evaporator to boil off excess water, in shifts around the clock. 

Please call for the current boiling schedule.

  • Sugaring & vacuum lines are repaired and cleaned throughout the 250 acre Sugarbush.
  • Downed limbs are removed from the lines.
  • Tree health is evaluated.
  • Cordwood is processed throughout the property and stacked at the Sap House.
  • Taps are installed in the trees.
  • Equipment is cleaned & prepared for the boil.

Sugarbush Schedule:

No two seasons are alike, but here’s a general idea of what maple-related activities you can expect while visiting through the year. Please contact us for additional information.

This is the exciting time of year! As nighttime temperatures plunge and daytime temps go above freezing, the sap begins to run.

In shifts, staff run the wood-fired evaporator to boil off excess water around the clock. 

Please call for the current boiling schedule.

  • Sugaring & vacuum lines are repaired and cleaned throughout the 250 acre Sugarbush.
  • Downed limbs are removed from the lines.
  • Tree health is evaluated.
  • Cordwood is processed throughout the property and stacked at the Sap House.
  • Taps are installed in the trees.
  • Equipment is cleaned & prepared for the boil.

Hunting

Hunting on Merck Forest and Farmland Center property is to be conducted in accordance with Vermont Hunting Laws  set by the Fish & Wildlife Department; additionally, as landowner and resource manager, MFFC maintains rules and regulations consistent with our land use practices and programming.

As of 11/2019, roughly 75% of MFFC’s 3,200 acres are open to hunting; the remainder of the property is designated as a  Hunting Safety Zone.

We ask that all hunters follow these rules, follow firearms safety principles, and exhibit excellent judgement & ethical decision-making.

MFFC Regulations:

Hunters should be familiar with the rules and guidelines:

    1. Hunters are required to be aware of the MFFC Hunting Safety Zone (see map) and to hunt outside of the zone’s boundaries. It is your responsibility to know where trails and cabins are located relative to your shooting position. It is your ultimate and absolute responsibility to know your target and what is beyond.
    2. Hunters and non-hunters alike are required to wear at least one article of blaze orange clothing during November’s rifle season.
    3. Trapping is prohibited due to the large number of pets accompanying our visitors.
    4. Hunting stands must be registered with MFFC’s Conservation Manager; no stands or accompanying equipment may be permanently attached (i.e. no nails, bolts, or screws may be used). Stands must be clearly identified with the user’s name, address, and phone number in accordance with Vermont Law. 
    5. All markers — flagging, cat-eye reflective tacks, etc., must be removed at the end of the season.
    6. All shotgun loads are to be lead-free.
    7. Hunters must practice Leave No Trace: make sure to pick up spent casings.
    8. No target-shooting is permitted on the property.
    9. Game cameras must be labeled with owner’s name, address and phone number.
    10. No vehicles are permitted beyond the South Gate or Visitor Center parking lots.

If you have questions about MFFC Hunting Rules and Guidelines, please contact the Conservation Manager at  (802) 394-2580. 

Acres Open for Hunting
  • Early Season: September 1 – November 13, 2020
  • Resident Hunters w/dog (by permit): September 1 – November 22, 2020
  • Non-Resident Hunters w/dog (by permit): September 15 – November 22, 2020
  • Late Season: November 14 – November 22, 2020
  • Bow & Arrow: October 1 – November 13 and November 30 – December 15, 2020
  • Youth: October 24 – October 25, 2020
  • Rifle (16-day regular season): November 14 – November 29, 2020
  • Muzzle Loader: October 29 – November 1,2020 and December 5 – December 13, 2020
  • Youth Turkey: April 25 – 26, 2020
  • Shotgun or Bow & Arrow: May 1 – 31, 2020
  • Bow & Arrow Only: October 3 – October 23, 2020
  • Shotgun or Bow & Arrow: October 24 – November 8, 2020
  • September 1 – December 31, 2020
  • September 26, 2020 – March 14, 2021
  • No closed season
Directions to South Gate Entrance
  • From the MFFC Visitor Center, turn left and head west on Route 315.
  • After 5 miles, turn left onto East Road which soon becomes Kent Hollow Road.
  • Go one mile, stay left at the Sandgate Road fork.
  • After one mile, turn left onto Hidden Valley Road just before a bridge. There is an old worn sign at the junction that says “Kent Hollow Rd →”
  • Travel 1.2 miles to the gate and park on the right.