Vermont Fall Series 10.1.20 Lake Champlain Get-Away

View from Mount Philo

Day 2

On our second day at Button Bay State Park we decided to take a road trip to a couple of other local places of interest. Our first stop was Mount Philo State Park in Charlotte, Vermont where we hoped to enjoy a short hike to the summit for some awesome views of the valley and Lake Champlain.

Being a gorgeous Fall day and also Saturday, we should have anticipated the crowds. The parking lot just inside the entrance gate was approaching capacity when we arrived and we considered turning around and visiting another day. But, in the end, we parked the truck and decided to brave the onslaught of happy hikers. Masks on, we took the advice of the very friendly and competent gate attendants, and hiked up the trail and down the road. Thus, completing a loop that would possibly alleviate some of the congestion on the trail.

Mount Philo State Park was Vermont’s first official state park. Before being sold to the state, the owners of a private inn at the base of the mountain constructed a carriage road for their guests that led to the summit. Once the state gained possession, the Civilian Conservation Corps was enlisted to improve the area. A ranger station, campground, mountain-top lodge and picnic area are examples of their work. Check out this great historical account of the CCC’s work in Vermont.

The day we hiked to the summit it was unbelievably hazy. I’m not sure if this was due to lingering smoke haze from the fires out west. It did mean that photography was a challenge. It was almost impossible to get a good clear photo that outlined the Adirondacks and showcased the valley below. The Summit Trail was under construction is sections and there were a couple of detours along the way.

Trail work along the Summit Trail
More trail improvement….

While in high school, both of my sons worked one summer for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and this is the type of project they would have completed. I don’t know who was responsible for this trail work but it reminded me of their experience. The organization offers students and young adults an exceptional opportunity to earn money and gain an appreciation for the outdoors, all while improving our public lands.

Looking down on Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks from the summit

This was my best attempt at a landscape photo from the summit! It required considerable editing in Lightroom to pull in the Adirondack skyline and it’s still very hazy! It does however capture the essence of the Champlain Valley. 🙂

I noticed these signs at the summit of Mt. Philo and was pleased to see that a local boy scout troop was active here. We are a boy scout family and I love to come across evidence of the stewardship they provide in their local communities.

After completing our hike, we drove to our next destination where we intended to eat our picnic lunch. I’m a member of Escapee’s RV Club and write occasional articles for them as well. In a recent edition, there was a short article about the Rokeby Museum in Ferrisburgh, Vermont. I was happy to discover that we were very close to this place!

Robinson Homestead at Rokeby Museum

The museum is housed in a separate building from the farmhouse and outbuildings and includes a small gift shop, a second floor permanent exhibit space and a first floor rotating exhibit hall. The homestead was called Rokeby and was inhabited by several generations of the Robinson family from 1793 until 1961. The Robinsons settled in Vermont and were Quaker abolitionists. The entire site is a National Historic Landmark and one of the best in the country for its Underground Railroad history. The National Park Service says it is “unrivaled among known sites for its historical integrity and the poignancy of the stories it tells.”

Of course I was very interested in the strategy of using public libraries to spread the word about the anti-slavery movement!

The second floor permanent exhibit is titled Free and Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont. It tells the story of two fugitives from slavery who found shelter and work on the Robinson farm. The Robinsons were meticulous at preserving valuable written accounts of their years on the farm. They also saved everything so the grounds and house provide artifacts and architecture that offers a true glimpse into the past. I highly recommend spending time exploring the museum exhibits and well-preserved grounds and buildings. There’s a natural history trail guide that helps explain various aspects of the farm as you stroll the area. You can access the website above for a virtual tour of the museum.

Some of the outbuildings on the farm
The plague was located behind some overgrown shrubbery – lucky I stumbled on it!
There were groves of Black Walnuts everywhere! Not something we typically see in Central Vermont!
Spread out around the grounds are many picnic tables. A great place to just come and enjoy the peace and quiet for a lunchtime outing!

We got back to the campground in time to prepare and eat dinner before biking out to the point for yet another spectacular sunset!

Day 3

We spent our remaining full day mostly just hanging out at Button Bay. In the morning, I had the idea to drive over to Kingsland Bay State Park, which was close by and also on the lake shore. When we arrived, we discovered it was closed for the season! How disappointing! We did find a sheltered spot on the bay along Town Beach Road where we sat on some rocks and ate our picnic lunch!

From here we watched as a small sailboat blew over from the wind! There were several people out there trying to right it – not sure if they were successful.
We ate lunch on the rocks just below this cute little cabin overlooking Kingsland Bay.

Back at the campsite after lunch, we walked the shoreline of Lake Champlain and, due to low water levels, accessed Ship Island by foot. It was a nice relaxing day of quiet exploration.

Love the color of the grasses!!

Ship Island

The point on Ship Island – it was very windy and choppy on the lake!!
Can you spot the duck blind???
Looking towards Ship Island (or Ship Point) as we headed for our third sunset of the trip!!

More amazing sunsets photos!! 🙂

2 Comments on “Vermont Fall Series 10.1.20 Lake Champlain Get-Away

  1. Thanks Lynn, Nice portrayal of some VT venues for escape from the chores at home. On my bucket list for warbler arrival next spring. Hopefully house tours along with the museum will be open to the public at that time.


    • Yes – I was disappointed that we could not tour the house. But, it’s not that far away – can always return! I loved Button Bay so there’s a good chance we’ll camp there again.


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