9 Back Road Bike Tours

July 20, 2008 by  
Filed under Biking, Blog

Biking in VermontWe’ve just come across this section of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce website which has some suggestions for bike tours, and we thought we’ll share it with you, because we believe they did a very nice job with it.
It presents 9 back road bike tours with very detailed descriptions of the routes and their level of difficulty; every type of cyclers is going to find one for him/her abilities. The presentation is very inviting and they made it very practical as well: each route has its own PDF for you to print and take on the road with you. We also liked the fact that they included some historic facts about the buildings and villages you see along the way… why not learn a little more about the places you are biking through as you are enjoying the landscape… and pedaling hard!
Here are the routes:
Berlin Pond Loop – 5 Miles -for casual cyclists – dirt road
Calais Historic Hamlets – about 20 Miles – reasonable degree of fitness – unpaved
Mad River Valley Recreation Path – 4.5 Miles – flat to gently rolling – mostly unpaved
Mad River Valley Tour – 16.3 Miles (5.7 Mile Optional Extension) – degree of fitness required – option more difficult
Montpelier – East Montpelier – 16.5 Miles (9.2 Mile Option) – quite hilly but can avoid the climb out of Montpelier
Northfield Tour – 12.3 Miles – 2 very steep hills – mostly unpaved
Lake Tour – 7 Miles – hilly terrain and dirt roads – Calais and Woodbury areas
Waterbury – Stowe – 22.2 Miles – few fairly rugged climbs mixed with easy terrain and exhalarating descents – half paved and half dirt road
Websterville Loop – 13.7 Miles – few good climbs – unpaved, gravel roads
In addition to the bike tours, the site has some other interesting information such as bicycle organizations, bike tours companies and even bike races.
So check it out, enjoy the tours and tell us what you thought! And check back with us soon… we have articles on the Champlain Bikeway and the famous Route 100 bike road in the works!
Link to Central Vermont Back Road Bike Tours.

Vermont Scenic Drives: Route 17

Chimney Point historic siteRoute 17 is not frequently listed among “scenic drives” but it definitely has a stunning view from the top of the Green Mountains at the Appalachian Gap (great during the foliage season) and lots of sweeping views of the Lake Champlain Valley. It will be enjoyed by people who love far away views and the immensity of the valley (and may be less by people who love the cozy valleys with mountain backdrops, which you find in Central Vermont on the famous route 100).
Route 17 is also very interesting by the great diversity of its landscapes, from the end of Lake Champlain, to the valley, the hills and finally the top of the Green Mountains.
You start at the shore of Lake Champlain (literally!) at “Chimney Point” state historic site (a wonderful spot unto itself). The first half of the drive, about 45 minutes, has you cruising across fabulous farm country in the Champlain Valley with sweeping views to the north and to the south across the flat and rolling farmlands. You can see the Green Mountains in the distance getting closer. The local scenes of farms and landscape are really classic Vermont.
Then, you hit Bristol, and start the “transition” to the Green Mountains. Bristol, itself, is just a perfect example of a 4-block long “Main Street”. The town is very vibrant with stores and restaurants. When we took the drive, last week-end, we enjoyed dinner and a “cold frosty one” at the Bob Cat Brewery (we will be back!).
Within seconds of leaving the town’s main street area heading east, we were into the hills and soon the Green Mountains, rapidly gaining altitude and enjoying the scenery as we headed up the very windy turns (no views there though).
Within 20 minutes, you finally cross through Appalachian Gap which has a very nice panoramic view to the West (fabulous sunset view!).You pass over the Long Trail at over 2,300 feet and then quickly head down the other side. A couple of minutes later, you get a glance of a ski lift. You are at the top of Mad River Glenn Ski area (how many times have you actually driven by the TOP of a ski lift?!). A few more minutes and you pass the bottom of the ski slope and quickly follow the wonderful river shores down towards Vermont’s famous Route 100 and the end of your Route 17 journey…
Pick a great day this summer to do it. Start around 5, stop in Bristol for dinner, and you should be perfectly timed to see the sunset at 8pm from Appalachian Gap.

Post-scriptum: Later this summer, I have done this drive again, but from route 100 to the lake this time… I actually prefer it in this direction. For the first few miles, before you start the climb, the Green Mountains are unbelievably impressive, truly rising as a wall in front of you… Later, Bristol is again a surprise at the end of the descent… and arriving at the lake at Chimney Point is precious. Enjoy!

Related posts:
Sunset on Historic Chimney Point
Brewpubs of Vermont
Enjoy Vermont foliage… Differently