The Mount Philo Loop, minutes from downtown Burlington, is a rolling route with unbeatable views. Sitting at just under 26 miles, it starts in South Burlington at Overlook Park on Spear Street. It winds its way down Spear for eight miles into Shelburne and Charlotte where the road turns into the Spear Street Extension. Riders will follow this down winding roads for about five miles, past a covered bridge and up to Mount Philo Road. After taking a right on Mt. Philo, riders will be blown away by the views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain and will pass Mt. Philo State Park on the right. Staying on Mt. Philo riders will be treated to tricky climbs and worthy descents before coming back in Shelburne. Take a right onto Falls Road which turns into Irish Hill and heads back up to Spear. Here riders can decide if they would like to turn left on Spear and head back to Overlook Park or head across Spear towards a left on Dorset and another left of Knowland Farm Drive adding about three extra miles onto the 26-mile ride.
What Makes It Great
The route is a fully paved loop full of rolling hills with a couple of good climbs and well-earned descents mixed in. Irish Hill, nearing the ride’s end, provides a stout climb. It’s short at just under a mile, but it’s sustained and steep, and just when it feels like the top is near,the corner turns and the hill keeps on going up. It’s an excellent hill workout for intermediate and advanced riders.
The views of the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain as well as Camel’s Hump and the Green Mountains are astounding all up and down Spear. But once riders turn onto Mt. Philo Road the views of the lake and mountains are breathtaking. Even the most focused riders would be hard pressed to not stop and take a picture.
In addition to the views, riders pass by Quinlan Bridge, a historic covered bridge built in 1849, that crosses over Lewis Creek nearing the end of the Spear Street extension. Mount Philo State Park also sits along the route. The 168-acre park sits atop Mount Philo and offers stunning views of the lake, mountains and world-class sunsets.
What’s nice about this area is that all the roads loop in and around and back to one another making it very easy for riders to add or subtract mileage as needed. Not up for a 26-miler? Take a right off Spear onto Hinesburg and from there take a right onto Mount Philo turning this into a shorter 19-mile ride. There are so many different options with similar vibes once you are in the area.
The winding back roads are fully paved, and while Spear is a bit busy, there is a wide shoulder to ride in and the traffic mellows out once you hit the Irish Hill intersection and even more once riders cross Hinesburg Road.
Who is Going to Love It
Riders looking for a good mix of solid climbs and fun descents will enjoy the rolling countryside landscape. There are a couple of stout climbs mixed in so riders should be in decent shape before heading out along this route. The ride provides a more open-feel than many of the routes along the typical forested roads of Vermont. Riders looking for a scenic route will be happily satisfied.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking can be found at Overlook Park on Spear Street in South Burlington. This lot is free and open at all hours.