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Vermont Trip Report

Old 06-20-22, 12:12 PM
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Vermont Trip Report

Did a short tour of Vermont earlier this month. Drove up to Brattleboro on June 5th and camped just outside of town at Ft. Dummer S.P. Brattleboro (smartly) allows long-term parking in a garage in town for $5/night, with Sunday’s being free. Started riding on the 6th. The trip ended in St. Albans on June 14th. Got a room for the night. The next morning I hopped Amtrak’s Vermonter with my bike for a 3 hr.+ ride back to my car. Drove down to S. Deerfield for the night then returned home to Philly on the 16th. Seven days of riding with two off days. Nights at Jamaica S.P., Mt. Ascutney S.P., Silver Lake S.P. (2), Stillwater S.P., Brighton S.P. (2) and Prouty Beach municipal campground. Daily mileage ranged from around 28 to 61.

Here is a route map:

Ride with GPS | Bike Route Planner and Cycling Navigation App

Mileage inside the parks and local errand mileage is not shown. The compressed profile makes it difficult to appreciate the steep grades (some double digit) in places, especially on some of the dirt sections. A couple of mornings I had climbs right out of camp, which is never fun for me. The trail mileage (12) between Plainfield and Stillwater was horrendous at first. There was rain/flood damage a couple of places. One spot was required walking as it was steep and rocky. The 26 mile Missisquoi Valley Rail-Trail was also tougher than I expected. Much of the surface consisted of two narrow tracks with a hump in the middle and high weeds. It also had noticeable grades both up and down. But the real pain was the numerous road crossings. Fourteen of VT 105 alone. But it beat riding the highway.

The weather was, for the most part, pleasant. Around 6 a.m. on the morning of the fourth day at Silver Lake S.P. it started to rain pretty heavily, and rain was predicted through most of the afternoon. The original plan was to ride to Stillwater S.P. that day for a two night stay and some paddling during the day off. In light of the weather, I traded my off day at Stillwater for an off day at Silver Lake. Other than that day, and a short period of rain at night at Mt. Ascutney S.P. after Day 2, skies were mostly sunny and highs were in the mid-70s, although most days were a tad humid for my liking. Nightly lows ranged between the low to upper 50s, although I think one night dipped below 50. I also seemed to have a noticeable to strong headwind each day.

The Vermont state parks were quite nice. I had a lean to each night. No need to stake out the tent or fly, and I stayed dry during the two days/nights with rain. Prouty Beach municipal campground in Newport was also nice. The three tent sites are down by the lake, close the public paths and away from the numerous RV sites, which are up on a hill. I could hear no noise from them at all. The bathroom/shower facilities are old but are close to the tent site and kept very clean by park staff. Bug spray was a must and the mosquitoes were ever present in camp.

I lost some respect for Vermont drivers during this trip. I had previously ridden south from St. Albans twice both before and during the pandemic. (In 2018 and 2021.) My 2018 trip was actually right around the same time as this one, while the 2021 trip started the Sunday after Labor Day. I experienced a lot of needless close passes. Instances where there was no oncoming traffic and good sight lines. One of my favorites was pulled off by a woman who said hello to me as I rode by her house. She was preparing to get into her car and had a large, reusable grocery bag. I assumed she was heading to the same large grocery store I was going to about 4 miles up the road. I actually wondered if she would come too close if she passed me. She didn’t disappoint. But in defense of Vermont drivers in that case, she had Massachusetts plates. (Many of you have probably heard the term “M*******.”) I have to wonder if the explanation is my route. My previous two trips had me go down the far west side of the state after leaving Burlington until I headed southeast at Manchester to Brattleboro. This trip’s route came closer to larger population centers such as St. Johnsbury, Woodstock, Barre, Montpelier and Newport.

Not too many “exotic” creature sightings. There had been recent bear activity at Stillwater, but I didn’t see one. I did see about a 3’ long ribbon snake at Brighton. Either a beaver or muskrat made its way across Silver Lake. At Silver Lake, Stillwater, Brighton and Prouty Beach I heard loons at night and in the morning. At Brighton and Prouty Beach I got to see them. Roadkill-wise I saw what looked like a member of the weasel family and a porcupine. One thing that was not as common as I expected were cows. I think I only passed 3 herds and heard one other in a field behind some trees. Guess I just wasn’t in parts of the state where dairy farming is widespread.

The lens of my Sony camera froze up early in the trip so I had to rely on my iPhone. I am having trouble figuring out how to get images from the phone to my home computer because most of them are too large to email to myself for download. I guess I will edit this post and add them using my phone.
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Old 06-20-22, 12:18 PM
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Lean to at Ft. Dummer S.P.

Keeping warm.

West River at Jamaica S.P.

Vegetarian dinner.

I came up this leaving Jamaica.

Quiet dirt.

Snack stop spot.
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Old 06-20-22, 12:31 PM
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Not much to go with my pasta after Day 2.

My first covered bridge.

Greenery.

Saw a good number of roadside cemeteries.


Second covered bridge outside of Woodstock.

Sure beat the busy U.S. Highway.

Sense of humor.

Sunny Silver Lake.

Gloomy Silver Lake.
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Old 06-20-22, 01:05 PM
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Not even the worst part of a messy trail.

Stillwater S.P.

Dirt.

It was lovely.

Can’t really tell, but this was steep.

Rarely did I see cars off the beaten path.

This was also very steep.

Another covered bridge.

Empty highway to Brighton S.P.
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Old 06-20-22, 05:34 PM
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Sounded like a fine tour. I think Vermont is unique in the US in that there's a hug network of small dirt roads that still lead to towns with resupply points. The dirt roads that I toured on were also incredibly smooth.

I'd like to do another tour in Vermot in mid Sept. right before a lot of the campgrounds close, trying to stay on dirt as much as possible.
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Old 06-20-22, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by niknak View Post
Sounded like a fine tour. I think Vermont is unique in the US in that there's a hug network of small dirt roads that still lead to towns with resupply points. The dirt roads that I toured on were also incredibly smooth.

I'd like to do another tour in Vermot in mid Sept. right before a lot of the campgrounds close, trying to stay on dirt as much as possible.
Yes. A lot of the dirt is surprisingly smooth. I’m guessing they were the original roads that linked towns before the state highways were built. I passed lots of cute country stores on the more major roads but have seen them in more isolated areas during other trips.

I think many of the state park campgrounds are open until “Columbus Day”, but I know of at least one (Bomonseen) that closes after Labor Day, but nearby Half Moon Pond stays open later. I’ve stayed there twice. Pretty nice.

I have a few more photos to post.
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Old 06-20-22, 07:06 PM
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Swimming beach at Brighton S.P.

Some of the thousands of future frogs along the beach.

More empty cruising.

Snack stop spot on the way to Newport.

Rare sight these days. The sign read open.

That’s Canada off in the distance.

Finally got to try out the complete tent at Prouty Beach.

Sunset.

Full moon rising.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:08 PM
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Very nice trip report. Dirt touring Vermont is on my bucket list.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by KPREN View Post
Very nice trip report. Dirt touring Vermont is on my bucket list.
Bring low gears if you are not going lite. I had a 24x34 low gear. Wish I had not hemmed and hawed about getting at 22t small ring until it was too late.

I saw one other person touring. She was headed north on U.S. 5 in Brattleboro. I had gotten off the train earlier and was driving south. She had a bikepacking setup with frame bags and such. Couldn’t see what she was riding, but it wasn’t a traditional touring bike like my LHT.
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Old 06-20-22, 08:30 PM
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The climb up Jay off in the distance.

Another quiet backroad….

…that turned to dirt.

Street View still shows this as a covered bridge. Probably destroyed in a flood.

Much of the climb up Jay looked like this.

*smh*

Much of the Missiquoi Trail had narrower ruts and taller grass than this.

There used to be a railroad here.

A nicer section of the trail.

Crossing the river for the last time.
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Old 06-21-22, 04:31 AM
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Last photo. The bike hanging in the cubby on Amtrak. Didn’t even have to remove the front wheel this time. Partially deflated the rear tire to make it easier to get the bike down. An employee unloaded my panniers for me at my stop.


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Old 06-21-22, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Bring low gears if you are not going lite. I had a 24x34 low gear. Wish I had not hemmed and hawed about getting at 22t small ring until it was too late.

I saw one other person touring. She was headed north on U.S. 5 in Brattleboro. I had gotten off the train earlier and was driving south. She had a bikepacking setup with frame bags and such. Couldn’t see what she was riding, but it wasn’t a traditional touring bike like my LHT.
My lowest gear is 42/46. My bike is heavy fat bike. Light touring is around 350 lbs and heavy touring is about 425 lb.
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Old 06-22-22, 09:42 AM
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Looks like some good riding up there. 👍 I've been to New Hampshire a few times, but only through Vermont as a passenger in a car. They have some enormous turtles up in that part of the country. Like too big to pick up, lol. 😲

Hey, did you get any maple syrup? 😁
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Old 06-22-22, 02:19 PM
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Ticks?
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Old 06-22-22, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
Ticks?
Haven’t found any so far, but I was concerned while riding the Missisquoi Trail. The growth was pretty high and thick in places. Mosquitoes were quite noticeable.
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Old 06-22-22, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post

Hey, did you get any maple syrup? 😁
I passed several independent places selling it but didn’t want to carry the weight, especially since it’s not something I really consume. Then yesterday I was at a TJ’s near my office and saw Vermont maple syrup for sale.

When I toured Montana again in 2017 I bought some huckleberry jam for my then girlfriend. Stupidly, I packed it in my carry on luggage. The TSA confiscated it, not buying my argument that it was jam and thus not a gel.
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Old 06-28-22, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I lost some respect for Vermont drivers during this trip
I just got back from Stowe and I echo this sentiment. Granted, I was in a very touristy location, but it was the VT plates that surprised me the most with unnecessary close passes on practically empty roads. Always had a good experience, but this time both my wife and I noticed it. Even the aforementioned mass***** in Boston suburbs give more passing room these days. Demographic shift due to Covid?

The maple syrup at TJs is pretty good, but I tried some at a farmer's market in Stowe and it was soo much better, much thicker and more flavorful, like liquid candy! Even though I don't eat a lot of it, I just had to buy a large jar for me and my daughter (these guys: https://sillowaymaple.com/). So, highly recommend trying local syrup if one is there.

You mention that you didn't see many tourists, that's interesting. I saw a couple Canadians having lunch in Stowe with a mixed pannier/bikepack setup, and a TON of tourists in just one day, including a couple bona-fide bikepackers, mostly on the Colchester Causeway and several on the Island Line trail near Burlington, so guessing maybe that area is a bit more popular.

This looks like an awesome trip! I have caught the VT bug too, keep thinking of the dirt roads and the views around Lake Champlain. The climbs though, those climbs!
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Old 06-28-22, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by autonomy View Post
You mention that you didn't see many tourists, that's interesting. I saw a couple Canadians having lunch in Stowe with a mixed pannier/bikepack setup, and a TON of tourists in just one day, including a couple bona-fide bikepackers, mostly on the Colchester Causeway and several on the Island Line trail near Burlington, so guessing maybe that area is a bit more popular.
I have ridden to Philly from St. Albans twice. 2018 and 2021. Both times I spent two nights in Burlington to spend some time with an old friend. Did see some touring cyclist at North Beach in 2018. It was early June, but the causeway leading out to the missing bridge was closed due to storm damage. In 2021 it was after Labor Day so the shuttle was only running on the weekends. I arrived on Sunday but had plans to go sailing with my friend. At least I got to ride the causeway out to the missing bridge on Monday.

Forgo to mention that I saw some Canadian riders in Richford after I came down from Jay and was having lunch in a park. (Heard them speaking French as they road by, and you can walk to the Canadian border from the center of town.) I assumed they had ridden across the border to do part of the climb or maybe part of the Missisquoi Trail since they were headed in the direction of both. if you cross the borddr just north of Richford and re-enter the U.S. at N. Troy you skip the climb. The Canadian siee is relatively flat.
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Old 06-29-22, 02:51 AM
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Wow Vermont was a beautiful state. Last weekend was my first time riding there.
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Old 06-29-22, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghazmh View Post
Wow Vermont was a beautiful state. Last weekend was my first time riding there.
Where did you ride?
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Old 06-29-22, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Where did you ride?
Vermont Gran Fondo. I did the Medio course, 80 miles beginning in Bristol.

https://strava.app.link/pX5AGy7Jfrb[img]blob:https://www.bikeforums.net/e0e1fcc5-386b-407c-a223-49741fa7a010[/img]
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Old 06-29-22, 06:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Ghazmh View Post
Vermont Gran Fondo. I did the Medio course, 80 miles beginning in Bristol.

https://strava.app.link/pX5AGy7Jfrb[img]blob:https://www.bikeforums.net/e0e1fcc5-386b-407c-a223-49741fa7a010[/img]
Oh. That's right. We discussed this.
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Old 06-29-22, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post

Can’t really tell, but this was steep.

This was also very steep.
I believe you about these being steep, but it brings up a question: how can you take a picture of a road from the bottom that shows how steep it really is?

I've only found two ways. First is the case of a curve in the road -- where there aren't too many trees blocking the view of the road ahead -- that shows an upcoming grade against a background that provides some reference.


Note the switchback at the end of the visible pavement headed to Washington Pass

The second way is to look down from the top and note you've already ridden this one.

Going to the Sun Road from Logan Pass

But in a lot of cases you've only got a view of a few dozen yards of road, and even if there's a view from the top, your view of the road below is blocked by trees or curves in the ridge. So how are you supposed to convey the information that climbing that stretch is or was tough, without some "trust me" verbiage?
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Old 06-29-22, 08:44 AM
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Mine were both taken looking back/down during breathers.. And I was limited to my iPhone after my "real" camera crapped out.
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Old 07-03-22, 05:34 AM
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Thanks for a great trip report and photos. I live in Vermont, and it's nice to be reminded sometimes of how exceptional the riding is here. I'm not really sure why I bother to tour anywhere else, other than that it's nice to see different country sometimes, even if it's not quite as nice as what you have it home.

Amtrak is a very convenient "backbone" for many Vermont tours.
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