vermont hiking trail

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.  – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

We Are Still Here.

In these unsettled times, the benefits of immersion in the natural world remain immeasurable. Understanding that, Merck Forest & Farmland Center will continue to allow access to our open spaces and forest road network. As the situation evolves, we will update this page with any new developments regarding access and programming.

Visiting MFFC:

As we move into the reopening of society following the COVID pandemic, with rates of infections dropping and rates of immunizations increasing, our policies are being brought up to date and into alignment with Vermont’s “Vermont Forward Plan Universal Guidance” on reopening procedures. All visitors should follow these guidelines:

  • Practice social distancing in fields, on forest roads, and in the parking lot with a minimum of 6 feet between household groups.
  • Stay in open areas and on the forest road network. 
  • Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Keep it mellow and explore with caution — no staff will be onsite to assist.
  • Keep dogs on leashes at all times.
  • Avoid touching surfaces such as fences, signs, etc.
  • Masks are no longer required when people are engaged in strenuous activity, or in outdoor spaces, provided 6’ of social distance is maintained between household groups. If social distancing cannot be maintained, masks must be worn.
  • Masks must be worn anytime visitors are in indoor spaces, when coming into contact with those outside their household group, and when it is not possible to maintain 6’ of physical distance.
  • Our fields and forest roads remain open to the public from dawn until dusk, but all outbuildings — including the sap house and barns — are closed until further notice.
  • There is an emergency phone on the back porch of the Visitor Center, but visitors should not count on the availability of MFFC staff during this time. 

Participating in Programs at MFFC: 

Registration for Programming:

  • Participants must register either online or by phone in advance of the event.
  • Registration will close 72 hours prior to the event to allow for notification to participants of requirements to attend (outlined below).
  • Drop-in participation is not allowed.

Number of participants:

  • While the State of Vermont has increased allowable group size considerably, group sizes at MFFC programs will be capped for the event, program, or workshop being held, based on what is reasonable for that activity.
  • If more than the allotted number of participanats sign up, a waiting list will be established.
  • Should there be a waiting list (and depending on staff availability) a second group for the program may be organized, with a staggered starting time.

Upon arrival for a program:

  • Participants will be required to fill out the Unified Liability Waiver with an updated COVID addendum, attesting to participants’ lack of any symptoms associated with COVID.
  • Temperature checks will continue to be administered.
  • Hand sanitizer should be available to participants upon arrive for programming.
  • This falls into the Vermont Forward Plan of “Stay home when sick.”

Guidelines for Participants:

In addition to the expectations outlined above:

  • Participants must wear a face mask. Bandanas will be available for purchase should someone need a face covering.
  • Participants must be asymptomatic, having not experienced any of the following in the previous 24-hours:
              -A fever above 100.4
              -Chills
              -Muscle pain
              -Sore throat
              -Headache
              -New loss of taste or smell.
  • Participants must take their temperature before they come
  • Participants will receive a Liability Waiver and COVID-19 Addendum via email prior to the program. The liability form must be signed, dated, and submitted upon arrival at MFFC for the program.

Booking a Cabin

  • Cabin bookings can be made via phone, email, or on-line. Due to limited administrative capacity at this time, interested visitors should not consider their booking complete until they have received confirmation from an MFFC staff member.
  • Tent camping is available on a limited basis and will require pre-registration and site confirmation via phone a minimum of 72-hours prior to arrival.

Staying in Touch

During this period, MFFC staff will be on property for essential functions only, but all phone and web systems remain open and are checked regularly. Online booking and registrations are available, and online syrup orders will be processed on a weekly basis. 

Knowing that many families now find themselves at home together for an extended period, MFFC is increasing our digital outreach to share ideas and resources related to outdoor play and learning. 

Stay in touch at:

Facebook.com/merckforest
Instagram.com/merckforest