Welcome to Molly Stark State Park, named for the famous wife of General John Stark of the Revolutionary War. The park is located along the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway (State Route 9), the main east-west route in Southern Vermont that connects Brattleboro, Wilmington and Bennington. The Starks hailed from New Hampshire, where John Stark was a respected and successful road builder. Stark was moved to join the cause of American Independence, and received a commission in the First New Hampshire Regiment. Stark was influential and persuasive enough to recruit many men to fight for the Continental Army. He attained the rank of General by early 1777. Stark inspired his New Hampshire Volunteers the eve before the Battle of Bennington, fought on August 16, 1777, by proclaiming Now, my men, yonder are the Hessians! Tonight, the American flag flies over yonder hill or Molly Stark sleeps a widow! Elizabeth Molly Paige Stark was an accomplished and independent woman by her own right; she raised 11 children, teaching them to read and write. She was strong willed and social, and didnt bow to her husbands demands. She was instrumental to the American success at the Battle of Bennington; after the General departed west from New Hampshire, Molly recruited more men for the New Hampshire Militia. She even converted her homestead barn into a hospital to care for wounded from both sides. The approximate westward route that Stark and his Volunteers followed is commemorated by the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway. The area that now makes up Molly Stark State Park was cleared for agriculture and sheep farming by settlers in the 19th century. In 1932 a Civilian Conservation Corps crew built a roadside picnic area here on land owned by the Towns of Wilmington and Brattleboro. In 1939, the towns gave the 100 acre property to the State; later in the same year, Olga Haslund, a Wilmington resident, gave 48 acres. The result was the creation of Molly Stark State Park. In 1955, the steel fire tower was moved from Townshend State Park to the summit of Mt Olga at Molly Stark State Park. Hogback Ski Area operated partially on park property under lease agreement from 1955 until 1987. Campground development started in the late 1950s with the park officially opening on July 2, 1960. Two camping loops consist of 23 tent/trailer sites and 11 lean-to sites. One rest room with showers ($) is located in each loop. There is a play area and a picnic pavilion for large groups. A hiking trail starts from the park and goes up to the Mt. Olga fire tower.
We've hiked this trail in both winter and summer. In winter it was pretty icy which added to the challenge and the fun but we both slipped on our bums once so snowshoes and/or ski poles aren't a bad idea. The old abandoned ski buildings and lifts are really cool and make this relatively easy hike unique, offering a chance to walk though modern ruins. In the late summer we climbed the tower and watched the sun set...which I strongly suggest! From the tower the 360 views are great and photo-worthy. Bring headlamps if you're thinking of a sunset hike, they will be quite useful on the way down.
Loring S. on Mount Olga Trail
I remember how quiet this state park was, and the trail to the fire tower was a perfect distance for the kids. Camping was available. Check out my write up with pictures and some other things to look out for.
It's a nice trail with a fairly easy difficulty as you ascend to the peak. Great views from the fire tower. We camped in Molly Stark so it was nice to walk down the road and onto the trail. The tower is close to the 100 mile scenic overlook so you can get the same view. We are looking forward to doing this again.
It's not completely flat but should be doable for most people who are in anywhere near decent shape. I went in the fall and it was crowded next to the fire tower. There were a lot of families picnicking and taking in the fall foliage. However, despite the crowds, climbing the fire tower was exhilarating and the views of the foliage were glorious. It doesn't tend to be super crowded at the top because it's too scary for most children. The stairs are open to the wind and air. I saw a couple of people having to carry their terrified and crying kids down the stairs. Would not recommend for kids very little or afraid of heights.