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5 Bike Paths and Rail Trails to Explore This Summer in Vermont

View of distant mountains down a dirt road

Cruising through Vermont on a bicycle is, in my opinion, the best way to experience one of our idyllic summers. Take the best components of a road trip (watching the world go by out your window; seeing the environments change as you traverse the landscape; stopping at landmarks, historical plaques, and quirky convenience stores) and remove them from the sealed cabin of a car. Add fresh air, direct sunshine, as much of a workout as you desire, and subtract road noise and the cost of gasoline. Cycling in Vermont in the summer can be transcendent, yet unfortunately, I find myself thinking multiple times a ride, “I totally get why so many people are uncomfortable doing this.”

Enter Vermont’s fantastic and growing network of recreation paths, rail trails, and bicycle routes.

Even as an experienced rider, confident in my awareness of my surroundings, decked in high-visible apparel and blinking lights, I can get nervous around traffic. Despite wishing that anyone and everyone could comfortably experience riding Vermont’s scenic roads, I know the anxiety that can come from cars whizzing by at 50 miles per hour (or higher), their drivers possibly distracted by a phone or simply negligent to the comfort and safety of cyclists and pedestrians.

Over the last few years, miles upon miles of these trails have been developed, opened, and improved, making bicycling more accessible and less intimidating for all. Free of motorized traffic, an afternoon on one of Vermont’s rec paths can yield an entirely relaxing ride, with not one speeding SUV or too-close-for-comfort truck.



Burlington’s recently-completed renewal of the Island Line Trail saw the path repaved around Burlington’s Lake Champlain waterfront and the resurfacing of its famous causeway, a two mile section that stretches out into the Lake. At “The Cut,” a 200-foot gap in the causeway that allows boats to cross, Local Motion’s Bike Ferry shuttles riders across to the South Hero side, where miles of quiet, flat road, farms, and sweeping views of the Champlain Valley await them.



Expected to be completed this year, the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail (LVRT) is already mostly finished and open to users. Stretching from Swanton to St. Johnsbury, the 93-mile gravel path offers numerous start and finish locations throughout northern Vermont and presents opportunities for beautiful out-and-back rides at the distance of one’s choice. You can also connect to a variety of beautiful and quiet dirt roads, or, if you’re ambitious, you can even have a multi-day adventure. Even just taking the LVRT one town over for lunch, a swim, and some time outdoors can make for a beautiful and full day.


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Intersecting with the LVRT is the Mississquoi Valley Rail Trail (MVRT), which connects St. Albans and Richford. The MVRT can be ridden on its own or combined with the LVRT to explore new routes, access the LVRT from St. Albans, or explore further routes and roads that branch off from it.



Southern Vermont’s West River Trail, though less complete than other rec paths, offers 36 miles of rail trail connecting Brattleboro, Dummerston, Newfane, Townshend, Jamaica and South Londonderry.



Finally, the popular Stowe Recreation Path meanders around the West Branch River, across and under Route 108, through quiet, beautiful woods, and past some of the resort town’s main attractions.


If you need to travel from home to access any of the above, you can easily find parking on their respective maps. To plan an afternoon on a path, identify where you’d like to start and finish, and choose a couple places you might like to stop along the way. Maybe for a sandwich in a village, a picnic at a nearby park, or a swim in a mountain stream.

As more sections of trail are connected and more rec path projects are begun and subsequently completed, quiet, safe, comfortable cycling becomes more and more accessible in Vermont. Families have more options to ride without being exposed to highway-speed traffic; new riders can learn and find their confidence on forgiving surfaces, without feeling pushed into a ditch; and those ready to try more are connected to adjacent trails and roads.

Even for the very experienced cyclist, the aforementioned paths are incredible resources. They can allow for longer rides and greater challenges without defaulting to highways and busy roads as the main thoroughfare. They can offer a multi-day bike touring trip for those determined to ride the entire stretch in one direction or as a round-trip.

The rise of the rail trail in Vermont has opened the doors and lowered the barriers to entry to bicycling as a pastime here in Vermont, and is a great way for folks who are interested in cycling but shy away from busy roads to get into the activity. Many will find that sticking to their favorite rec path is totally satisfying. Others will find confidence and comfort on their bike and develop an eagerness to branch out. If and when they do, they will find nearly endless horizons of beautiful places in Vermont to ride.

Bicycling in Vermont in the summertime is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, a day, or a weekend, and as more resources and spaces are made available to ride safely, more and more Vermonters will be able to enjoy this joyous, healthy, social, and mostly free activity.


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Charlie Dayton

About Charlie Dayton

Charlie Dayton is the Communications and Development Manager at Old Spokes Home in Burlington, VT, where he and his colleagues work to make bicycles more accessible for all. As a lifelong cyclist in many forms, he believes strongly in the capacity of the bicycle to improve lives as a means of transportation, health, and recreation. 

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