Geography of South Burlington, Vermont

By | November 24, 2023

South Burlington, Vermont, is a picturesque city with a diverse geography situated in the northwestern part of the state. Nestled along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, South Burlington is known for its scenic beauty, rolling hills, and a climate influenced by its proximity to the lake and the Green Mountains. Let’s explore the geography of South Burlington, including its physical characteristics, topography, hydrology, and climate.

Physical Characteristics:


South Burlington is located in Chittenden County, Vermont, and is part of the Burlington metropolitan area. The city is positioned on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, which forms a natural border with the state of New York to the west.

Lake Champlain:

One of the defining geographical features of South Burlington is its adjacency to Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain is a large, freshwater lake, and its eastern shore provides residents with stunning views and access to recreational activities. The lake, which extends north-south, plays a significant role in the city’s climate and local ecology.


Rolling Hills:

South Burlington’s topography is characterized by rolling hills that gently rise from the shores of Lake Champlain towards the east. These hills contribute to the city’s scenic landscape and provide various vantage points offering panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding areas.

Green Mountains:

To the east of South Burlington, the Green Mountains rise prominently. While the city itself is situated in a valley-like area, the nearby mountains, part of the larger Appalachian mountain range, add to the overall topographical diversity. Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, is located in the Green Mountains to the east of South Burlington.


Lake Champlain:

Lake Champlain, with its clear waters and recreational opportunities, is a central feature of South Burlington’s hydrology. The lake influences the city’s climate, moderating temperatures and contributing to local weather patterns. Residents can enjoy activities such as boating, fishing, and lakeside recreation.

Winooski River:

While the Winooski River primarily flows to the north of South Burlington, it is a significant watercourse in the region. The river eventually empties into Lake Champlain, contributing to the hydrology of the area.


According to plus-size-tips, South Burlington experiences a humid continental climate with four distinct seasons. The city’s climate is influenced by its proximity to Lake Champlain, which has a moderating effect on temperatures, particularly during the colder months.


Summers in South Burlington are generally mild and pleasant, with daytime temperatures ranging from the 70s to the 80s Fahrenheit. The lake’s moderating influence helps to keep temperatures from becoming excessively hot. Summer is a popular time for outdoor activities, and the longer daylight hours allow residents to enjoy the natural beauty of the region.


Fall is a highlight in South Burlington, as the surrounding foliage transforms into vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow. The Green Mountains to the east provide an exquisite backdrop for fall foliage viewing. Daytime temperatures range from the 50s to the 60s Fahrenheit, creating a crisp and refreshing atmosphere.


Winters in South Burlington can be cold, with daytime temperatures often in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit. The lake effect from Lake Champlain can influence snowfall amounts, with the lake moderating temperatures and contributing to occasional heavy snowfall. Winter sports enthusiasts can take advantage of nearby skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the Green Mountains.


Spring is characterized by a gradual warming of temperatures, with daytime highs reaching into the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit. As the snow melts and the days lengthen, the landscape begins to awaken with the blossoming of flowers and the return of greenery. Spring is a transitional season, marked by a sense of renewal and the emergence of outdoor activities.

Urban Development and Geography:

Residential Areas:

South Burlington’s urban development is characterized by a mix of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, and green spaces. The city’s layout takes advantage of the rolling hills and offers residents a mix of housing options, including homes with views of Lake Champlain.

Parks and Open Spaces:

The geography of South Burlington has allowed for the incorporation of parks and open spaces within the city. Red Rocks Park, located along Lake Champlain, provides a scenic area for outdoor activities and offers breathtaking views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains across the water.


The Burlington International Airport, a major regional airport, is situated in South Burlington. The airport plays a significant role in the city’s connectivity and transportation infrastructure.

Economy and Geography:

Economic Diversification:

South Burlington’s economy is diverse, with sectors such as healthcare, education, technology, and tourism playing important roles. The city’s geography, with its proximity to Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains, contributes to the appeal of the area for both residents and visitors.

Higher Education:

The University of Vermont, located in nearby Burlington, is a notable institution that influences the regional economy. South Burlington’s geography, nestled in the scenic Champlain Valley, adds to the overall appeal of the area for students and faculty.

Tourism and Recreation:

The city’s geography, with access to Lake Champlain and the nearby mountains, contributes to its appeal as a recreational destination. Outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, boating, and winter sports attract both residents and tourists, enhancing the local economy.


In conclusion, South Burlington, Vermont, is characterized by its picturesque setting along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, rolling hills, and proximity to the Green Mountains. The city’s geography, with the moderating influence of the lake and the scenic backdrop of the mountains, contributes to its unique character and appeal. The four distinct seasons provide residents with a range of recreational opportunities, from lakeside activities in the summer to winter sports in the nearby mountains.

South Burlington’s urban development takes advantage of the natural landscape, providing residents with a mix of residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, and green spaces. The city’s economic diversification, including sectors such as education, healthcare, and technology, is influenced by its geographical location within the Champlain Valley.

As South Burlington continues to grow, its geography will likely remain a defining feature, shaping the city’s identity and contributing to the high quality of life enjoyed by its residents. The balance between urban development and the preservation of natural spaces will likely be a key consideration as the city evolves, ensuring that the unique geography of South Burlington continues to be a central aspect of its appeal.

South Burlington, Vermont