Mount Philo
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont (AMC Books)
Address:5425 Mount Philo Road, Charlotte, VT
Hours:10 a.m. to sunset
Fee: $3 adults, $2 children ages 4–14
Contact:

Mount Philo State Park, 802-425-2390 (office), 888-409-7579 (reservations), vtstateparks.com/htm/philo.htm
 

Bathrooms: At trailhead and summit
Water/Snacks: Water at summit and campground
Map:

USGS Mount Philo quad; vtstateparks.com/pdfs/philo.pdf


An easy climb up this small but prominent mountain rewards you with commanding views of the Adirondack and Green mountains, and grassy picnic areas overlooking pastoral valleys.

Mount Philo rises above the surrounding farmland to provide a magnificent view of the patchwork fields, Lake Champlain, and the Green Mountains.

Mount Philo State Park is a jewel, with well-maintained trails, a small but quiet campground, and a plethora of Civilian Conservation Corps-era buildings. But the highlight is the commanding views from the summit of this small mountain. Even though it sits squarely in the middle of pastoral farm country, Mount Philo rises abruptly from the surrounding fields and pastures to gain stellar views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, and the Green Mountains. A road leads to the summit, so on weekends it can get busy, but it is still very much worth the trip. Weekdays are much quieter, and late fall and early spring are excellent times to visit.

From House Rock trailhead, head uphill through a forest dominated by sugar maples. Some nice rock stairs lead to the large glacial erratic boulder from which the trail gets its name—it’s as big as house! A massive sheet of ice carried this giant boulder thousands of years ago and deposited it on this hillside like nothing more than a piece of gravel.

Continue on the trail after it crosses a road at 0.3 mile. Many large trees make this section of the route a great spot for playing hide-and-seek on the go. When you reach the Devils Chair Trail a few hundred yards beyond, stay to the left and proceed straight to the summit (0.6 mile). From the open summit, look for the excellent viewpoints on the right to Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. The summit’s grassy lawn offers Adirondack chairs and a picnic pavilion that can be rented for large groups. Many other, more secluded picnic
areas are sprinkled around the summit, each complete with a picnic table and a fire ring.

To descend, continue on past the parking lot at the summit, staying to the right on Old Carriage Road along the top of the cliffs. Take a right when you reach the auto road again. This road is one-way and you will be walking down facing any cars coming up from below. After 0.2 mile, the road reaches Devils Chair Trail on the right. Follow this trail along the base of the cliffs to its intersection with House Rock Trail (1.5 miles). Head downhill, cross the road again, and follow House Rock Trail back to the parking lot.

To extend the fun, book a campsite in the very small and rustic campground nestled on the side of the mountain. Trails lead directly to the summit from the campground. In winter, the park road becomes one of the most exciting sledding hills in New England!

Plan B:

The nearby Shelburne Orchards offers pick-your-own apples, peaches, grapes, pumpkins, and cherries; cider doughnuts; live music; and the most fun tree rope swing that we have ever tried. Standing on a steep hillside, you swing out over the abyss and brush the leaves of the apple trees beyond.

The excellent ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center in nearby Burlington is a great rainy day option.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Many dining options exist on US 7 in Shelburne, and Burlington a bit farther north has perhaps the widest array of eating opportunities in New England.



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