As this was our last full day in Vermont and the weather decided to be a little bit more cooperative than it had been, we decided to take the rental car out and explore some of the countryside. I already talked about our trip to Vergennes here, but it was on the way to Vergennes, that we happened upon Mount Philo.
I pointed it out to @mrsbozz on the left side of the road as we were heading south to Vergennes. From a distance, it just looked like a big hill standing all by itself in the middle of a field. As we got closer, I realized it was a bit larger than I initially thought and I spotted a sign that said Mt. Philo State Park.
I made a mental note of it and we continued on to Vergennes. I decided if we didn't spend too much time at Vergennes Fall we would swing by Mount Philo on the way back. Sure enough, the park was basically flooded in Vergennes, so within about 15 minutes we were back on the road heading towards Burlington.
Once you turn off the main road, the view of Mount Philo is a bit obstructed until you get closer to the entrance as you can see in the opening photo. I'd like to give @mrsbozz a shout out on getting these photos as I was driving into the park. She did an amazing job.
As you will see in the coming photos, Mount Philo gave us some of the best colors we saw while we were in Vermont. I can only imagine what it might have looked like had we visited earlier in the season.
I was a bit surprised to see just how full the parking lot was when we got there. It was a Monday morning and the weather wasn't the greatest for spending too much time outside. Far better than it had been though, at least it wasn't raining, it was just kind of a cold dreary day.
I apologize for the bird poo on the windshield in the photo above. I plan on using that in a future post, so I decided not to edit it out yet.
We pulled up to the ranger station and I stopped to pay the $5 fee and ask the nice ranger lady some questions. She volunteered information to us about the trails heading up the mountain. She mentioned that a tree had fallen across one of them and it might be better to take a different route.
Feeling a bit lazy, and knowing we still had some more stops to make through the day, I asked the ranger if we could drive up the mountain. She said sure, so we turned up the narrow road to make our ascent.
As I said before, the colors were absolutely fantastic driving up the mountain.
I think it's safe to say that some of the best photos we took from our trip to Vermont came from Mount Philo. It was just such a beautiful setting. The drive to the summit didn't take more than ten or fifteen minutes due to the fact that you had to drive quite slowly.
I feel like if we would have had more time, the hike to the top isn't too bad either. It seemed quite manageable and I noticed there were a fair number of elderly people making their way up, so that should tell you something.
Many of them did have those hiking poles that seem to be the rage these days, but I guess whatever helps you get to the top right?
As we got closer to the top of the mountain, the trees became a bit more sparse as you will see in the photo below. The leaves were just about all off of them and the colors were more towards the brown side of things versus the brilliant yellows we saw closer to the bottom.
At the top of Mount Philo is a nice parking area as well as an old lodge and a cabin and ranger station that I think the Civilian Conservation Corp built. I'm not sure the lodge is actually still standing, but the guy who owned it donated all the land to the state of Vermont a long time ago. Which ultimately led to Mount Philo being the first State Park in the state of Vermont.
Right off the parking area was this cool little picnic and seating area complete with adirondack chairs to enjoy the view. After snapping some photos, I was ready to hop in the car and get back on the road, but @mrsbozz wanted to walk around a little bit and explore some more. I'm really glad she did, because we would have missed half of what Mount Philo had to offer.
Down a short path, we found another seating area and some more proper viewing areas that gave you some pretty spectacular views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack mountains in the distance. It was so amazing. I just wish the sun had come out a bit more. It was about this time that a large group of elderly women made it to the top of the mountain and kind of took over the viewing area, so we made our way to some other areas of the summit.
Despite it's small size for a mountain, Philo has a fair number of trails running all over the face of it. We could have easily gotten lost if we had been left to our own devices. Of course, it is a mountain, so all you have to do is go down and you will eventually find your way out!
The photos above show some of the hiking trails around the summit of the mountain. The last one shows the road that we came in on to reach the park. It was a pretty cool view from this other side of the mountain. Given the right conditions, we could have spent a lot more time at Mount Philo. It is truly amazing and well worth the visit if you are ever heading south on Route 7 out of Burlington.
There is a small ten site campground that we drove through on our way back down the mountain. I don't think we would be able to get our 26 foot travel trailer up there, but if you had a small pop up or a tent, you would probably be just fine.
The sites are fairly secluded and quite rustic. If @bigtom13 ever made it up this way with his motorcycle and tent, Mount Philo is definitely where I would suggest he spends a night.
Mount Philo was one of those unexpected surprises that I love when you are traveling.