We’ve hijacked Little Explorers this week! Usually our faithful guest blogger Julie B. writes the “Little Explorers” posts, but today we’re sharing our family’s experience hiking Mount Philo. For the uninitiated (as we were), this is a great first “real” hike/mountain for many Vermont children. While the quick and (relatively) easy hike is just a little over a half mile to the top, it’s also steep enough to gain enough elevation for spectacular views of the Adirondack Mountains and the Lake Champlain Valley.
Distance: 1.2 miles round trip.
Level of Difficulty: moderate to difficult (depending on age).
Bikes Permitted: no
Of Interest to the Kids: wooden stairs, huge boulder, rock scrambling/climbing at the summit
How to get there: 7 north, right on State Park Road, parking lot on left after gate.
Since our four and three-quarter-year-old (his words, not mine) has been showing more and more stamina on our recent woodland adventures, we decided to strike out for a steeper but shorter trail, hoping the short length might convince his 3-year-old sister to hike to the top too. Long story short, they both hiked all the way to the top! The promise of Monument Farms Chocolate Milk at the top kept the little lady moving and motivated, while water breaks and apples from Happy Valley Orchards kept us all fueled up.
The trail offered lots of exciting discoveries and objects of interest for a 3 and 4-year-old, including wooden steps (to a “magical ice palace”- thank you Frozen), large boulders for climbing and hiding behind, acorns for inspecting and plenty of sticks for fighting off unwanted wolves (aka our dog). Coming down the little one needed to be carried, but the 4-year-old hiked the whole way. I must say, it was the perfect first summit for his age, just enough of a challenge to keep him interested but not too much to discourage him.
I found the trail was plenty interesting and beautiful for adult hikers and very well maintained. The trail was also quite busy – even though we visited on a Monday – fortunately in most places the trail is plenty wide to make passing other hikers easy. We also ran into a group of school kids at the summit. We were warned by friends that it can get extremely busy on weekends, so if you can hike during the week that’s advised.
Also of note: there are two spots to check out the view, one right before the summit and one at the summit, both are beautiful! The one at the summit is on top of some great boulder rocks that our 4-year-old explored (photo at left). The summit also has a great grassy area for picnics, Adirondack chairs for relaxing in and even bathrooms (bonus!). Overall, our experience was fantastic. Finally, if you just want to enjoy the view you can actually drive to the top!