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Tour routes in Vermont

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Tour routes in Vermont

Old 02-24-13, 03:58 PM
  #1  
Margot M
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Tour routes in Vermont

Hi,
I got some great advice last time I posted. We were deciding where to cycle in New England and have now narrowed our options down to 5 days in Maine and 6 days in Vermont so are just working out the route. Coming from Australia we want to see the best in a short period of time (wish we had longer) so here it is:

We are two adults and a 12 year old. We will be starting our tour in Vermont around 1 October. We are travelling on Bike Fridays, my husband and son on a tandem and myself on a tourer. We will be carrying our own gear but staying in hotels/inns etc. so no camping.

I have posted on another forum as well but our ideal tour is around 35-55 miles per day, a few either side is fine especially if itís good surface and flattish we can add extra. Not too hilly, I understand this is Vermont so will be lot's of ups and downs but would rather avoid mountains.

We would like a good variety of scenery, leaf peeping, covered bridges, small towns etc. We plan on starting in Burlington so if anyone has any places to stay they can recommend that would be great too, we have 3 single nights there but a bit of space to put the tandem together would be helpful. There seems to be alot around South Burlington but I read somewhere else this isn't the nicest area, we won't have a car just our bikes at this stage.

We have read lot's on the web, we use Ride with GPS and I have bought a few cycle books on the region and this is what we have come up with but would be very happy to receive feedback and suggestions. If there is somewhere prettier or a better route please let me know. Is there something we should see along the way?

We shall drive from Bar Harbor to Stowe and Smugglers Notch one day and then onto Burlington the next day. We will also drive Burlington to Boston via Waterbury so have taken those places off our ride.

I should say 1. we are happy to change where we go and 2. if the route stays as is are we taking the best roads - we don't mind dirt roads as long as they are quiet and in good condition for our tires which are 28's.

Here it is:

Day 1 Cross ferry Burlington to Port Kent
Cycle Port Kent/Essex cross ferry to Charlotte
Cycle Charlotte to Vergennes
approx. 56kms (35 miles)
Overnight Vergennes

Day 2 Cycle Vergennes to Brandon via Shoreham - Ride with GPS shows a bike route up Basin Harbor Rd and along Button Bay Rd. There is Jersey Rd too but is Button Bay a better route? (just thinking about reducing our mileage) It then meets with Jersey at Panton and continues down to Spalding then Lake St, Watch Point Rd and we reach Shoreham. There is no bike route marked from there so have taken it across Richville Rd, Shoreham Whiting Rd, Leicester Whiting Rd,Swintington Hill Rd, Arnold District Rd, Grove St into Brandon
approx. 78kms (48 miles)
Overnight Brandon

Day 3 Cycle Brandon to Middlebury via Forest Dale and Lake Dunmore, would like to go to the Falls of Lana and maybe Silver Lake if they are worth visiting?
approx. 40kms (25 miles) allows time to do walk etc. so theoretically is a rest day
Overnight Middlebury

Day 4. Cycle Middlebury to Burlington via Morgan Horse Farm and Pulp mill covered bridge back through Vergennes etc.
approx. 70kms (43 miles)
Overnight Burlington

Day 5. Cycle up through Grand Isle, South Hero, North Hero to Alburg
approx. 90kms (55 miles) by the time I have routed following the cycle paths
Overnight Alburg

Day 6 Cycle Alburg, Swanton, St Albans back to Burlington
approx. 90kms (55 miles)
Overnight Burlington
NOTE: As an alternate I would love to ride the Missiquoi Rail trail as it looks lovely but don't know how to fit it in unless we can get transport back from Richford. Any suggestions?? Looking on the web I may just have to contact a taxi company?
Also someone else recommended the NY side back down the lake rather than the VT, has anyone done both and have an opinion?

We won't be back for some time so are trying to do the best in the time we have. Think I have said enough, would be great to hear back.

Regards
Margot
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Old 02-24-13, 09:03 PM
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Vermont is great for biking and Oct 1 is a really nice time of year, except it can rain a lot, particularly if there is a hurricane passing by. It is also peak season, so you will have to book rooms long in advance. You have picked some great areas to bike, with some really nice towns (Middlebury, Brandon and Vergennes are all nice). However, you are doing a figure 8 around Burlington, and that would not be my recommendation, since although Burlington itself is great, it is maybe the "worst" choice for biking as an area, since the roads are busy and there are lots of people and it is pretty developed. So I would favor starting in burlington but doing a north or south loop trip instead.

Definitely stay right in downtown burlington, and I am sure any place you stay there will find a way to accommodate your bikes. There are several inns and B&Bs in Burlington itself. Don't stay in S. Burlington. The bike path to the north to Colchester and the Islands is a really nice, but I don't think they are running the bike ferry in Oct.

The Lake Champlain islands are beautiful, and get lots of bike tourers. The ferry to NY is fun, and there are 3 ferries to consider. I think biking on the Vt side is going to be easier and more scenic, but I have only driven in NY. I only know of one place to consider staying in Alburgh, Ransom Bay Inn, and that is a nice place with good food. But you may have more fun staying in North Hero at North Hero House. Shore Acres is also really fancy and nice. If you go to Isle La Motte, we really like the Ruthcliffe Lodge too.

I would not recommend the Missiquoi Rail trail for you on tour end to end. It is a nice ride, but the gravel is slow and it weaves back and forth across the road numerous times. No reason to start in St. Albans or end in Richford either. So if you are in Swanton, and bike east, you may pick it up at some point and travel on it for awhile and would be good, it is pretty along the river and the farm fields. But instead of going to Richford, I would want you to bike through Montgomery or Bakersfield to Jeffersonville as the Northern route option as a loop. That gets you mountains and rivers and classic Vermont scenery.

A Southern loop going into the countryside south of Brandon is also very attractive. So getting as far south as Dorset and getting to bike through Poultney and Pawlet is a great area for cycling too.
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Old 02-25-13, 09:20 AM
  #3  
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Have you looked at Adventure Cycling Association's Green Mountains loop for some ideas on routes as well as places to stay? It's available for purchase via download so there is no worries about shipping to Australia. Did a lot of the VT portion back in '10 during their organized tour. The stretch from Middlebury to Vergennes was quite nice. Saw a bald eagle. Camped at Button Bay and then rode back to Burlington the last day.

https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...enmtnsloop.cfm

+1 on skipping that trail. Rode a short part of it and did not like the gravel. Got back on the road after a couple of miles. And I must have been on a boring part (near the road that leads to Lake Carmi S.P.) since it wasn't very interesting.

+1 on the trail north to Colchester. That's how we started the trip.
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Old 02-25-13, 05:03 PM
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Vermont or New York side?

thanks for that, has anyone done the New York side of Lake Champlain and the Vermont side north of Burlington? A vote on which is better, more scenic etc? Sounds like we shouldn't do Missiquoi then.

We won't have a car after we have driven across from Bar Harbor but looking at drop off points we could return rental car in Barre, Morrisville or Rutland or collect and do a one way tour to or from Burlington. Will have a look at routes for this, any of these towns nicer that others?
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Old 02-25-13, 07:43 PM
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Margot,

I've done a day tour from the Grand Isle ferry in Vermont, up thru the Champlain Islands, across the bridge into NY, then down theNY side to Plattsburgh to catch the ferry back to Vt. A nice 60 mile day ride. I think the views are better in the Vt islands, there is less traffic and better road conditions inNY. Each side is unque.

As far as your loop, you could ridenorth from Middlebury more inland, thru Charlotte and Shelburne andstay east of Burlington. They are small towns of Hinesburg or Richmond (where I live & there is a b&b). Then youcould head east toward Waterbury, then north to Stowe or Morrisville, then head back west toward the lake, then south toward Burlington. I know some very nice back roads and could lead you thru them.

We havelots of room for camping, but I know you are not doing that, so you'd have to crash on our floors or stay in the b&b in town. We have a coupleof restaurants, a bike shop, and market.

No matter what you choose to do, I would be more then willing to shuttle you around Vermont if you need a car ride. I have bike racks on the car, so I can get you & gear to whereever you want to go
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Old 02-28-13, 07:41 PM
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Sounds like a lot of fun.

I live in St. Albans and have biked many of the roads you mention many times. A few resources you should definitely look at, if you haven’t already:

25 Bicycle tours in the Lake Champlain Region by Charles Hansen
Backroad Bicycling in Vermont by John S. Freidin
The Adventure Cycling Maps for both the Green Mountain Loop and the Adirondack Park Loop
https://www.champlainbikeways.org/maps.htm#vtbikeways

October 1 is a great time to ride, but be warned, is sometime gets chilly. Also, it is peak leaf peeping time with all that entails; particularly ‘no room at the inn.’ It is not too soon to start making reservations. Some of the smaller more popular inns and bed & breakfasts book up early.

As to your routes - I’ve done your Day 1, 5 and 6 quite a few times each and they are fun rides. The only thing that bears mention is from Alburgh to Swanton you need to go on route 78 for a few miles where the shoulder narrows and the traffic is significantly heavier than the other roads you’ll be riding on. Nothing terrible, but I wouldn’t want you to be surprised.

I too would miss the Mississquoi Valley Rail Trail. It’s nice, but not special.

Both sides of the Lake are nice. There is a bit more on the Vermont side but you won’t go wrong either side.

Feel free to ask more questions and tell me when you’re coming; it would be fun to meet up.

Eric
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Old 03-01-13, 02:10 PM
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Temperatures will be cool at times, especially when moving on a bike. However, you will be able to buy additional layers there if necessary. New England is usually not spectacular but it is very pretty and autumn colors are ... well, spectacular.
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Old 03-01-13, 10:16 PM
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So much to think about! Okay have nutted our another one way route which avoids so many stops in Burlington. Here it is:

Drive Bar Harbor/Waterbury/Stowe/Smugglers Notch - Take in the sights by car
Overnight Smugglers Notch
Drive Smugglers Notch/Burlington drop off rental car
Overnight Burlington
Cycle day 1. Burlington/Grand Isle/South Hero/North Hero/Alburg
Overnight Alburg
Cycle day 2. Alburg/Rouses Point/Plattsburg/Keeseville (or anywhere else around there if any suggestions?)
Overnight Keeseville or similar
Cycle day 3. Keeseville/Essex ferry Charlotte/Button Bay/Vergennes
Overnight Vergennes
Cycle day 4. Vergennes/Chimney Point/Middlebury/Weybridge/Morgan Horse Farm/Pulp Mill Bridge/Middlebury (if we miss Bristol are we making a big mistake?)
Overnight Middlebury
Cycle day 5. Middlebury/West Salisbury/Salisbury Station Bridge/Salisbury/Lake Dunmore (walk Llana Falls)/Forest Dale/Brandon
Overnight Brandon
Cycle day 6. Brandon ??? maybe Fort Ticonderoga or covered bridges of Pittsford to end up Rutland to pick up rental car
Overnight somewhere around there, suggestions we will have a car now

In response to some of your questions and advice.

1. I tried to map in Richmond or Hinesburg in our itinerary, they look great but just don't seem to work with our time/mileage limitations. Small towns are fine with us too so happy to look at others.
2. I have the Backroad Bicycling in Vermont book as well as the 25 Bicycle tours of Lake Champlain and Road Biking Northern New England, all have been helpful but sometimes difficult to put a multi day ride together. I haven't got the Adventure cycling map as yet.
3. If we go down the NY side of lake we will miss Swanton, not that a bit of traffic worries us too much as long as not for too long, we live and cycle in Sydney, Australia so are used to big cities (well by Australian standards). Only issue is you drive on the other side of the road!
4. Thanks for the advice on Missiquoi, we have cycled several rail trails including the Katy in Missouri and thought this might be fun but so many better places to see by the look of it.
5. Poultney and Pawlet look good too just a little to far in the time we have.

I will be very interested in your feedback on our amended route, I have started looking at accommodation and am aware I need to book asap.

Thank you so much for all your help so far, very inciteful.

Cheers
Margot
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Old 03-03-13, 06:51 PM
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Old 03-03-13, 10:03 PM
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I like that idea more. Bristol is nice but not worth rerouting to get there. Do you have a GPS? I didn't put your route through Rides with GPS, but it seems like you are planning a long tour in Vermont and may not be doing any major hills, and that is pretty hard to figure out, and is probably a very good idea.

I am not sure what road you were planning from Middlebury to Brandon. But I would not want you to ride Route 7 if we can avoid it. I think you can map out an alternative and parallel route on much nicer to ride roads. Riding from Brandon to Rutland, if you need to rent a car in Rutland, wouldn't be bad either, as long as you don't ride Rt 7.

I think the ride up through the islands and then back down NY is great. I am still not sure about staying in Alburgh, unless you book Ransom Bay Inn. I am not sure if there are other places to eat dinner on Alburgh, at least I can't think of any that are open anymore (there may be a snack bar at the crossroads of Rt 78 and Rt 2, that may be open in Oct). The golf course also offers food, including dinner, and has a nice view. All of your other destination towns in VT should have services and food.

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Old 03-04-13, 05:12 AM
  #11  
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Thanks Michael, that's helpful. I have started booking accommodation and we will be staying at Ransom Bay but perhaps we better take lunch on that day? Yes we have a GPS and I have mapped out some of this with Ride with GPS and have managed to avoid the mountains. Thanks for the advice on RT 7, I see now there is a parallel road to Brandon with just a short section on RT 7 of about 1km with a nice shoulder so should be okay. I have heard from someone else that Rutland isn't a great town, can you or anyone confirm this? We are actually going to the airport south of here so could just pick up our car but maybe there is a better route, lot's of the roads seem to be dead ends in this area but have heard Proctor and Pittsburg are nice as is Poultney (although this may take us too far out of our way). I even wonder about picking up car and driving to Woodstock for the night. Any comments would be great.
Cheers
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Old 03-04-13, 08:16 AM
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Woodstock is a beautiful town filled with old, well kept homes and many businesses in its village. Woodstock is very upscale, while Rutland is much more a working town and not nearly as pretty. The drive over to Woodstock is also beautiful. Given the choice, I'd skip Rutland and drive to Woodstock. Also there is nice riding around Woodstock if you had an extra day to spend there.
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Old 12-23-13, 07:35 PM
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Thank you for all your assistance with our trip planning, we had a wonderful time and the weather was great until the last day so can't complain. I have put a trip journal here if anyone is interested https://www.biketouringtips.com/showT...=threadEntries . Feel free to ask any questions.

Happy New Year. Looking forward to our next tour, Margaret River in Western Australia...a little closer to home.
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