The first time I visited Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert, Vermont was in the early 1980s during an elementary school field trip. I've returned to the 3,100-acre forest over the years, but never in winter.
On Saturday I stopped by and saw quite a few people exploring the grounds on snowshoes and cross-country skis. At least a half-dozen people were walking their dogs, and a few brave souls were hiking into the woods for some winter camping.
Located off Route 315 in southwestern Vermont, Merck Forest was set aside in the 1950s as a foundation by George Merck of the Merck Drug Company. The non-profit organization's mission is to teach and demonstrate the benefits of innovative and sustainable management of forest and farmland.
Maintained through donations, Merck Forest is open year-round and offers hiking, camping, swimming, picnic areas, educational programs, summer camps for kids, and more. Since this is a working farm, you'll also see sheep, chickens and horses. Visit www.merckforest.org.