View from Mt. Philo State Park

View from Mt. Philo State Park, which welcomed over 65,000 visitors during the 2019 season.

After nearly a decade of work, the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation has completed a long-range management and stewardship plan for Mt. Philo State Park’s natural resources and human use.

Work on the Mt. Philo plan included a public input meeting and multiple revisions to incorporate feedback.

Among the needs identified in the plan are enhancement to address parking and trail improvements in response to increased park use.

SE Group of Burlington will develop an enhanced design to address vehicle and pedestrian traffic flow challenges at the park entrance and summit.

As attendance has grown exponentially at Vermont’s oldest state park over the past few decades, this will help Mt. Philo “catch up” with the influx of visitors and better meet the needs of guests while also protecting the park’s natural features.

The goal of this design project is to identify ways to more efficiently greet people, and to more effectively get them to the places they want to enjoy while minimizing the impacts of overcrowding at the park’s access and most visited points. This will likely include expanded parking at the entrance and enhanced wayfinding and accessibility near the summit in addition to other potential improvements. The department expects to have potential designs ready to share and solicit public feedback about later this spring.

Additionally, Timber and Stone, LLC, from East Montpelier was hired to develop a design enhancing and addressing significant maintenance needs to the park’s trail system. Work to implement this design will begin in 2020, subject to funding. This project is critical to the long-term sustainability of the trail system and health of the surrounding forest.

“Through the LRMP development process, a number of issues came to light that clearly require yet more planning, design and input,” said Parks Regional Manager Reuben Allen. “Ongoing communication and collaboration with our community partners and park users is critical to our success at Mt. Philo and elsewhere, and just because the plan is complete doesn’t mean the process of designing needed improvements to the park is going to stop. As we move forward, we welcome feedback and ideas for us to continue to improve our ability to serve those who enjoy our unmatched park system.”

The Mt. Philo long-range management plan was developed by a district stewardship team, a group consisting of experts from all disciplines within the Agency of Natural Resources. The plan can be viewed at the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation website, fpr.vermont.gov. View the trail design at the Vermont State Parks’ website page for Mt. Philo State Park at vtstateparks.com.

Mt. Philo had 68,638 visitors last year, between Memorial Day weekend and October 20. This is a 30% increase from 2018. Although much of this one-year increase can be attributed to a 2019 change in which the park opened at 8 a.m. rather than the traditional 10 a.m. start time, the park’s attendance has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. In 2009, the park’s attendance was 22,073, nearly double that of a decade earlier when the attendance totaled 12,228.

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