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:

While the fields and forest roads remain open to the public from dawn until dusk, all out-buildings at MFFC — 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. 

The Visitor Center will be open Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays from 10am to 5pm; guests in the Visitor Center are limited to a maximum of 4 members of a single household at a time. A Contact-Tracing form must be completed upon entry to the Visitor Center. 

According to current Vermont guidelines, attendance at all gatherings is limited to participation with only members of a single household.  Individuals who live alone may gather with members of their immediate family residing in a different household. As outlined by Governor Scott’s “Be Smart, Stay Safe” Executive Order, visitors, participants, and overnight guests to MFFC must fall into one of the following categories:
• Residents of Vermont who have not left for any reason other than essential travel in the past 14 days.
• Visitors to Vermont who have self-quarantined in the state for at least 14 days and not left the state since the quarantine period.
• Non-residents who are authorized to work in Vermont under the existing State of Emergency.

For complete details about regulations governing out-of-state visitors, please visit:  https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel.

Guidelines for Day Visitors:

MFFC asks that eligible visitors to the property adhere to the following guidelines while on property:
• Practice distancing in fields, on forest roads, and in the parking lot.
• 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.

Programs at MFFC: 

Programs will resume on an extremely limited basis; please see the EVENTS page for information on scheduled activities. All participants must certify that they are in compliance with Vermont Department of Health COVID-19 pandemic guidelines; a certification form may be downloaded here.

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 will not be allowed.

Number of participants:

• Group size, including MFFC staff working the program, will be limited to 10. (e.g. 2 MFFC staff members are to work the event, therefore incoming participants will be limited to 8).
• If more than the allotted number of participants 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.

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.

Overnight Stays at MFFC

Reservations for cabin rentals are available for weekend stays only. Contract Tracing documentation must be completed for each household.

Booking a Cabin

•At this time, bookings are only available for one group per cabin per week on Friday through Monday nights.
•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.

Guidelines for Overnight Stays:

In addition to the expectations outlined above:
• Group size must be limited to 10.
• As outlined by Governor Scott “Be Smart, Stay Safe” Executive Order, participants must fall into one of the following categories:
• Residents of Vermont who have not left for any reason other than essential travel in the past 14 days.
• Visitors to Vermont who have self-quarantined in the state for at least 14 days and not left the state since the quarantine period.
• Non-residents that are authorized to work in Vermont under the existing State of Emergency.
• Overnight guests 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.
• Overnight Guests must take their temperature before they come
• Overnight Guests must download, sign, date, and submit “Vermont’s Certificate of Compliance” form (found on the registration page) before their registration is completed.

For the foreseeable future, reservations will be available for one group per cabin per weekend, Friday through Monday nights. Any on-line bookings will be confirmed by an MFFC staff person via phone or email.

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