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270° views showcase mountains to the west and southwest.

Sure you’ve heard of Camel’s Hump or Smugglers’ Notch, but Vermont State Parks is more than just the 55 developed, staff-operated parks. We want to shine a light on our equally beautiful, but lesser known parks. First up: Sentinel Rock State Park. Check out this spotlight from Ellen Hinman of the St. Johnsbury Office.

Sentinel Rock State Park, located on Hinton Hill Road in the Town of Westmore, is one of the Department’s undeveloped state parks. The property was donated to the State in 1997 by the Wright Family. Throughout the Wright family’s half century of stewardship, two basic objectives for the property were pursued “FIRST, to maintain the property in as good a condition as we (sic Wrights) found it, and SECOND, to share the enjoyment of the natural attributes of the location with others who would appreciate them as we (sic Wrights) have.” (from the Long Range Management Plan, 2010).

Sentinel Rock SP is 356 acres in size and offers spectacular scenic views and many ecological, recreational, and wildlife values. Sentinel Rock, the large glacial erratic the Park is named for, is the location for viewing many beautiful Vermont sunsets. From where the “Rock” sits, there is a spectacular vantage point for 270 degree views to the west and southwest. The use of the site for interpreting natural history probably began with Ballard “Bud” Ebbet, former professor of geology at Lyndon State College, who brought many of his classes here. Dr. Herbert Hawkes, a retired geology professor from the University of California, also included Sentinel Rock’s glacial erratic in his renowned tour of Westmore’s geology, and several geology workshops sponsored by the Vermont Leadership Center (now Northwoods Stewardship Center) have also visited the site.

The Wright Family standing in front of the old farmhouse.

While in the ownership of the Wright family, the area was used primarily for hillside farming and logging. The farmhouse was built in the 1890s by John McLaughlin. Across the road was a large barn. In the 1950s, the Wright family renovated an old chicken coop on the property into a guest house. In later years, the Wrights offered hay and pasture privileges to their neighbors and friends, the Coles. The Coles have used and maintained the Sentinel Rock Farm fields for hay or pasturing cows for a number of years. The practice continues today; the Department has an agreement with Alan Cole to maintain the agricultural fields at Sentinel Rock SP.

At the time the property was donated to the State, the farmhouse, barn, and guest house remained on the property. In 2004, FPR contracted a building contractor/ inspector to do an assessment of the structures. The initial plan was to convert the farmhouse into a lodge facility for summer work crews from the Vermont Leadership Center (now Northwoods Stewardship Center). Following the assessment, the Department determined it would be too costly to renovate the farm-house and other buildings to meet present-day code requirements. The decision was made to remove all three structures from the site.

A Northwoods Stewardship Center trail crew installed trails at the park to highlight the

The namesake rock left behind by glaciers.

property’s scenic vistas and upland forests, connecting two short universally-accessible paths, and high-lighting a scenic stream valley.

The farm house site is mowed all summer and is a beautiful spot for a picnic or a wedding ceremony. The Rock continues to be used as a vantage point for spectacular views. Following the removal of the buildings, the foot print of the farmhouse was installed at the site. Educational signs have been installed, showing the history of the farm site.

To review the Long-Range Management Plan for Sentinel Rock State Park, visit the web page here. While the park is open to visitors, any special events (weddings, group tours, etc) require a permit. Visit the web page here for permit information. Contact the Barre District office for Park details. 802-476-0170 or email here.