The Champlain Bikeway:
A 363-mile route around the entire Lake and along the Richelieu River in Quebec suggests mostly paved rural roads; however, there are some sections where unpaved roads are used to access superb scenery and services or to avoid heavily traveled paved roads. In every case where the Bikeway uses an unpaved road (indicated in the directions), an alternate paved road is also offered to accommodate cyclists with narrow tires or who feel unpaved roads may not provide the experience they are seeking. Connecting theme loops, ranging in distance from 10 to 47 miles in length, follow both paved and unpaved roads. Paved alternates for unpaved sections are not offered for theme loops. Those loops with unpaved sections are generally in fine condition for cross-bikes or touring bikes with reasonably substantial tires.
There are also plenty of opportunities to make shorter loops within the "larger" loop around the Lake, through a variety of crossings. Two bridges and four ferry crossings are reasonably spaced along the length of the Lake, creating a number of options for day trips. Click here to request a Ferry Schedule, or check out the ferry schedule online at www.ferries.com. Starting from the southern end of the Lake, crossings are found at the following locations:
Ferry: Ticonderoga, NY-Larabee’s Point (Shoreham), VT
Bridge: Crown Point, NY - Chimney Point (Addison), VT
Ferry: Essex, NY - Charlotte, VT
Ferry: Port Kent, NY - Burlington, VT
Ferry: Plattsburgh, NY - Grand Isle, VT
Bridge: Rouses Point, NY - Alburg, VT
Bridge: Lacolle, QC - Noyan, QC
Champlain Bikeway in New York
Click here for detailed, mile-by-mile Champlain Bikeway directions for New York
From the southern end of the Lake, Whitehall to Crown Point, the Champlain Bikeway is characterized as hilly with moderate traffic and decent shoulders. From Crown Point to Westport use caution on Route 22 which has narrow shoulders. The landscape is generally farmland and offers nice views of the Lake and mountains. From Westport to Ausable, the Bikeway is rolling and affords beautiful near and distant Lake views. Traffic is minimal on quiet backroads including Lake Shore Drive and Highlands Road. Eleven new theme loops, known as "Adirondack Coast" Bikeways, connect to the principal Bikeway in Ticonderoga, Crown Point, Port Henry, Westport, Essex, and Willsboro (see description below). From Ausable to Plattsburgh, the Route follows Route 9, characterized as gently rolling terrain with moderate levels of commercial traffic. Three theme loops, known as "Northern Adirondack Coast" Bikeways connect to the principal Bikeway in Ausable, Plattsburgh, and Chazy (see description below). After leaving Plattsburgh, the Bikeway follows Lake Shore Drive from Point Au Roche State Park to Coopersville. Hugging the shoreline, this section is quiet, flat, and scenic--a prime area for beginning cyclists and families.
New York Theme Loops - South to North
Click here for detailed, mile-by-mile directions for theme loops in New York
Bicycle theme loops of the Lake Champlain Bikeways network established to date in New York form Adirondack Coast Bikeways and Northern Adirondack Coast Bikeways.
Adirondack Coast Bikeways, is a network of fourteen loops on paved and unpaved country roads.
These rolling routes wind through the Boquet and AuSable River valleys and along Lake Champlain, leading cyclists into a gentle area of small farms, villages, and natural resource splendor. Although the routes travel through the Adirondack Park, 95% of this valley is privately owned and we ask that cyclists respect all property. Unpaved roads consist of wollastonite tailings, a fibrous material mined locally that provides a relatively smooth ride for an unpaved surface. Wollastonite truck traffic is heavy on County Routes 12, 14 and 57 between Willsboro and Lewis. A guidebook, Adirondack Coast Bikeways describes the nature, culture, and history along these fourteen outstanding loops.
Northern Adirondack Coast Bikeways is a new network of three loops through the Champlain Valley of Clinton County. Traveling along the Saranac and Ausable Rivers, these loops are primarily agricultural with working farms and endless apple orchards. Views of the Adirondacks and Green Mountains are also found throughout. Prevalent along the loops is evidence of a past rich in history; enjoy several museums and cultural and historic sites along the way. Don't miss the Ausable Chasm, a river carved gorge and natural wonder in Ausable. To get out on the water and experience Lake Champlain, take ferries leaving from both Port Kent and Plattsburgh. The Bicycling the Northern Adirondack Coast guide describes the history and natural and cultural sites along these three new stellar loops.
Adirondack Coast Bikeways
Water's Edge Trail - 21.8 miles-Keeseville
This winding loop travels along the AuSable River to the shores of Lake Champlain with some spectacular views. Options are visiting historic Keeseville, connecting via ferry to Burlington, VT at Port Kent, or connecting to Amtrak for both north and south destinations. Should you opt for the return route, traveling will be on back roads through picturesque orchard and dairy country.
Rapid Descent Trail -16.9 miles- Wilmington
Beginning at the base of Whiteface Mountain, this loop descends upon back roads to Jay then meanders along the AuSable River affording beautiful views and the opportunity for leisure along the river's edge.
River Forks Trail -11.6 miles-Jay and AuSable Forks
Traveling upon back roads from Jay to AuSable Forks this loop provides views of the Jay Range and the convergence of both East and West Branches of the AuSable River at AuSable Forks.
Adirondack Marathon Trail - 26.2 miles - Schroon Lake
As the name implies, the loop follows the Adirondack Marathon course established in 1997. It's all-paved and generally flat-to-gently rolling. You will, however encounter a hilly section between mile four (4) and mile twelve (12). Traffic is generally minimal. When you arrive in the hamlet of Adirondack, don't forget to stop at the General Store for refreshments. A good start/end point is in downtown Schroon Lake, where food, parking, and visitor information is available.
Stony Lonesome - 16.5 miles - Ironville
This spectacular loop is on mostly remote, unpaved, gently-rolling roads. It's recommended for cyclists in good physical shape with a cross/mountain bike. Traffic is generally minimal. A good start/end point is at the Penfield Museum in Ironville. You can also connect from Ticonderoga via Routes 74 and 2 or off Interstate 87, via Route 2 near North Hudson.
Fort to Fort - 17 miles - Ticonderoga & Crown Point
This flat, all-paved tour follows the Champlain Bikeway between Crown Point State Historic Site at the bridge to Vermont and Fort Ticonderoga in Ticonderoga. Traffic is generally minimal. A recommended start/end point is at the Lake Champlain Visitors Center at the bridge. At either end, plan on touring these world renowned Revolutionary War historic sites. Food, lodging, and parking are available in both Ticonderoga and Crown Point.
Iron to Iron - 26.1 miles - Port Henry & Ironville
This hilly ride is for advanced riders looking for a good work-out. Be prepared for some occasional stretches of unpaved road surfaces; a cross-bike is recommended. Traffic is generally minimal. A recommended start/end point is at the Iron Center, near the Amtrak Station in Port Henry or at the Penfield Museum in Ironville. Food and lodging are available in the Port Henry/Moriah area.
Wet & Wild - 36.3 miles - Port Henry & Moriah
This day-long ride takes in two of the most remote paved roads in the Adirondacks. Grades become gentle after a hilly climb out of Moriah Corners and the route winds through woodland and open marshlands. Traffic is generally minimal. A recommended start/end point is at the Iron Center, near the Amtrak Station in Port Henry. Food and lodging are available in the Port Henry/Moriah area.
Mountain-Coast Connector - 28 miles - Westport & Elizabethtown
Consistent with its name, the route is characterized as rolling with a few isolated steep hills in the mountains and flat riding near the lake. Traffic volume is generally low, with the exception of short sections on Routes 22, 9, and 9N. A mid-route transect is available for those who wish a shorter--or extended--ride along Youngs Road, Route 9N, and Vaughan Road, totaling 5.0 miles. A recommended start/end point is in Westport or Elizabethtown where food, lodging, and parking are available. An Amtrak station is also available in Westport.
Coon Mountain Circuit - 18.5 miles - Essex & Westport
For those wanting to combine cycling and hiking, this route is your ticket. Near the half-way point on Halds Road is the trailhead to Coon Mountain. A short hike up affords breathtaking views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding valley. With the exception of a short section along Route 22, the route has little traffic. Terrain is rolling. A recommended start/end point is in the hamlet of Essex, where food, lodging, parking and the ferry are available. Or, bicyclists can start/end in Westport, which also has food, lodging, and parking, as well as an Amtrak station. If starting from Westport, take Route 22 north to County 9, and at the top of the first hill take Sherman Road to Halds Road. Return to Westport on County 9.
Woman Suffrage Way - 30.8 miles - Essex & Lewis
A great route to experience the wonderful rural landscape of the Champlain Valley. Traffic volume is low and terrain is rolling to hilly. A recommended start/end point is in the hamlet of Essex where food, lodging, parking and the ferry are available.
Joe's Random Scoot - 38.1 miles - Essex, Willsboro & Lewis
This longest loop of the Adirondack Coast Bikeways network travels through rolling farmlands and woodlands, and along flat lake shoreline. Roads are mixed paved and unpaved, hills are occasional, and traffic is low throughout. Some construction on Ray Woods Road is planned for 1998. A recommended start/end point is in the hamlet of Essex where food, lodging, parking and the ferry are available.
Rolling Reber Ramble - 18.6 miles - Willsboro
As the name implies, the route is rolling, especially through the woodlands along Reber and Mountain Roads (be prepared for the occasional steep hill). Traffic is minimal with the exception of Route 22, and where frequent trucks carry wollastonite on the short stretch of County Route 57 between Jersey and Mountain View Roads. (Wollastonite trucks use Mountain View, Route 57, and Stowersville Roads during the work week.) A recommended start/end point is in the hamlet of Willsboro, where food, lodging, and parking are available.
Surrounded by Water - 14.5 miles - Willsboro
The route travels around Willsboro Point, offering plenty of views of Lake Champlain. The only steep hill is immediately north of the bridge over the Boquet River on Route 22. All roads are paved except for a 1/2 mile section. When traveling around the Point, be vigilant of vehicles pulling boat trailers. A recommended start/end point is in the hamlet of Willsboro, where food, lodging, and parking are available.
Northern Adirondack Coast Bikeways
Acres of Apples - 24.4 miles - Ausable & Peru
As the name suggests, Acres of Apples winds through a magnificent apple country landscape of orchards and farms. The loop is all-paved and flat-to-gently rolling with two steep hills within the first mile of the loop. Traffic is generally minimal. A good start/end point is the Port Kent ferry dock where food and parking are available. Food is also available along the route at one of the many farmstands and restaurants.
Monuments, Mills and Music - 48 miles - Plattsburgh & Saranac
Departing from the Cumberland head Ferry Dock in Plattsburgh, the loop follows all-paved flat-to-gently rolling terrain throughout. Upon approach to Plattsburgh, the loop follows a bikepath through a park to the lake. Traffic is minimal in most areas with the exception of downtown Plattsburgh. Recommended for intermediate cyclists, however the section through Plattsburgh requires careful attention by experienced cyclists along busy city streets. An alternative start/end point is in downtown Plattsburgh where food, lodging and parking are available. Park in the big lot on Durkee street in the heart of downtown.
The William H. Miner Story - 35.3 miles - Chazy, Altona & Mooers
Passing through gently rolling farmland, the loop meanders along the Great Chazy River and Lake Champlain's scenic shoreline. The loop is flat throughout and traffic is minimal. A recommended start/end point is in the town of Chazy at the Central Rural School where parking is available. Food is available in Sciota, Altona, and Mooers along the way.
Champlain Bikeway in Québec
Click here for detailed, mile-by-mile Champlain Bikeway directions for Québec
Crossing the Canadian Border, the Champlain Bikeway travels through an agricultural "plains" landscape, characterized as windy, flat, and straight. Be aware that shoulders are non-existent in some places. From St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the Bikeway follows a wonderful hard-packed bicycle trail, known as the "tow-path," along the Richelieu River and the Chambly Canal to Fort Chambly.
Champlain Bikeway in Vermont
Click here for detailed, mile-by-mile Champlain Bikeway directions for Vermont through the Islands
From the southern end of the Lake, Whitehall, NY to Vergennes, VT, the Bikeway follows a number of quiet, flat to rolling, scenic, rural backroads, some of which are unpaved. (To avoid unpaved sections, an alternative is suggested, further inland along Route 30.) There exists minimal traffic, making it suitable for all cycling abilities. In particular, the section between Chimney Point and Basin Harbor is prime territory for beginning cyclists and families, especially near Button Bay State Park. Two theme loops, Rebel's Retreat and Otter Creek Wandering, connect to the principal Bikeway in Vergennes (see description below). Heading north, on approach to Burlington, the Bikeway follows flat to rolling backroads with minimal traffic. Views of the Lake and Adirondack mountains become more breathtaking approaching Burlington. Through South Burlington and Burlington, the Bikeway primarily follows bike paths, most of which hug the shoreline. Be sure and check out the "Queen City" along the theme loop. "Cycle the City", a 10-mile historic tour, colorfully described in the "Cycle The City" guide. Leaving Colchester, cyclists should use caution along Route 7 and Route 2 on approach to the Lake Champlain Islands, especially along Route 7 where shoulders are non-existent and traffic sometimes bothersome. Be alert along this 3 mile stretch. Another option is to hop on the Island Line, a 13 mile rail trail from Burlington to the Colchester Causeway being developed by Local Motion, a non profit organization creating and advocating non-motorized trails, routes and facilities. Connections along the Island Line are made by a seasonal ferry designed specifically for bicyclists.
After crossing the causeway to the Islands, the Bikeway follows quiet, flat, scenic backroads along the shoreline. Reasonably long stretches of unpaved roads provide close proximity to the Lake and avoid heavy traffic on Route 2. Described in Bicycling The Lake Champlain Islands, five theme loops connect to the principal Bikeway in South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Isle La Motte, and Alburg. The loop around Isle La Motte and continuing north to Alburg along the Lake, makes for an ideal area for beginning cyclists and families to explore.
At the junction of Route 7 and Route 2 in Colchester, cyclists can also continue along the eastern shoreline of the lake through Milton, Georgia, Swanton, St. Albans, and Highgate. Click here for detailed mile-by-mile Champlain Bikeway directions for Vermont (along the eastern shoreline).
While traveling through St. Albans, don't miss the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail which connects to the principal Bikeway in St. Albans and travels 26.5 miles to Richford, just shy of the Canadian border.
Vermont Theme Loops - South to North
Click here for detailed, mile-by-mile directions for theme loops in Vermont
Two spectacular bicycle loops, Rebel's Retreat and Otter Creek Wandering travel though the gently rolling agricultural landscape of Addison County, Vermont. A map/brochure is available, highlighting natural and cultural features, as well as amenities and services found along the loops.
Cycle the City is a whole new way to enjoy Burlington leading you along spectacular Lake Champlain and the Winooski River and through several historic districts. You will enjoy six parks, three colleges, and countless cultural sites. The "Cycle the City" guide describes the past and present of this richly historic and wonderfully vibrant town, including the amenities and services found along the loop. Burlington is the city that wants to be bicycle-friendly, and encourages reduction in vehicular traffic. There's no better way to learn about this living community, and truly appreciate all that Burlington has to offer, than to Cycle the City!
The Island Line is a rail trail that connects Burlington's bustling downtown to the villages, orchards and parks of the Champlain Islands. The Island Line brochure describes the history of the old Rutland Railroad and guides cyclists to the trail and its sites of interest.
Bicycling the Lake Champlain Islands Guide also offers five interpretive theme loops. Located between urban Montreal, Quebec and Burlington, Vermont, the Islands still retain a quiet rural charm. Regardless of how you explain them, the Islands provide an extraordinary combination of endless water surrounded by picturesque mountains. They are linked in a 27-mile long chain and connected to the mainland by bridges and causeways. You can arrive by automobile, boat, or ferry. The landscape sports waterside farms, orchards and a vineyard; the largest natural sand beach in Vermont; the "World's oldest reef; " abundant recreational opportunities; and historic Revolutionary War villages. A thriving summer tourist season helps support over 300 micro businesses. The Bicycling the Lake Champlain Islands guide describes life on the Islands, past and present, and includes a directory of amenities and services along these five extraordinary loops.
Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail is another theme tour opportunity. All aboard the milk train! Whether you walk, ski, or bicycle, a trip on the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail takes you into the heart of Northern Vermont's agricultural open lands. The Trail wanders through farms, forests, fields, and wetlands at a railroad's pace-slow, steady grades with sweeping bends. For the full length of the Trail, you'll see the postcard images of Vermont you've grown to love. You'll also see the families and working landscapes that created and support this spectacular scenery. Please respect the privacy and property of the Trail's neighbors at all times and keep the trail free of trash and debris. The Guide to the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail describes the Trail in two-mile segments including information on sites and services found along the Trail.
Rebel's Retreat - 42.5 miles - Vergennes & Addison
The loop offers a continuous panorama of fields and mountains while traveling Vermont's "west coast" along Lake Champlain. Take in unspoiled lake views while meandering an area rich in history and characterized as flat to slightly rolling farmland; prime for gentle riding. Although there are no or minimal shoulders, traffic volume is low with the exception of Panton Road and Route 17. Traffic can be particularly heavy on Panton Road in the early morning and late afternoon - use caution or take Webster Road as an alternative during these times. A majority of the route follows average-to-good paved roads, with some intermittent sections of unpaved surface, indicated on the map and in the directions. A good start/end point is in downtown Vergennes, where food, lodging, and parking are available.
Otter Creek Wandering - 28.5 miles - Vergennes & Middlebury
With sweeping views of thriving farms, neighboring hillsides, and the distant Adirondack Mountains, the route follows the course of Vermont's longest river. It extends between the picturesque historic city of Vergennes and the bustling college town of Middlebury while passing through some of the state's finest agricultural lands. Although there are no or minimal shoulders, traffic volume is low through most sections. Terrain varies from flat to rolling, and hills exist in some areas. A majority of the route follows paved roads, with the exception of a 5.9 mile stretch along Hopkins and East Roads to Route 17. There also exist a few other intermittent stretches of unpaved road indicated on the map and in the directions. A good start/end point is in either downtown Vergennes or Middlebury, where food, lodging, and parking are available. There is also a middle segment that transects the loop, making for shorter (or longer) trip options.
Cycle the City- 10.5 miles - Burlington
The loop begins on a bikepath with stellar views of Lake Champlain. Be aware that the bikepath can be crowded with strollers, in-line skaters, bicyclists, runners, walkers, families and dogs, especially on a sunny Saturday afternoon in the middle of the summer! Within Ethan Allen Park you will wind through gently rolling woods on a paved path. Be careful of the hairpin turn. Along the Winooski River, you'll meander through agricultural fields on a hard-packed, unpaved trail. This is definitely not for high-end racing bicycles, but it's fine for mountain bikes, cross-bikes and most touring bicycles with reasonably substantial tires. Please be respectful of private property through these fields. Leaving natural areas along the Winooski River, you'll climb a long hill to reach city streets through historic districts of the University of Vermont and the "Hill Section." In these areas, use caution crossing through a few busy intersections. Returning to the Waterfront, you will coast down a long steep hill. Pass cautiously again through a few more intersections, and be aware of increased city traffic as you make your return to the lake.
Island Line Rail Trail - 14 miles to date - This breathtaking rail trail will lead cyclists along the old Rutland Railroad Island Line, a railway that once took passengers and freight to western New York, where ships finished the trip to ports on the Great Lakes. To traverse Lake Champlain, trains went across three marble causeways that connected the Champlain Islands. Today a seasonal bike ferry that crosses the Winooski River will enable cyclists to travel as far as the "cut" of the Colchester causeway. (Work continues to install a second and third ferry to allow cyclists to continue this journey through the Island up to Montreal) Riding the spectacular marble Colchester causeway is like "riding on water".
Stone Castles -13.4 miles - South Hero & Grand Isle
Following the west shore of South Hero, the loop affords scenic views of Lake Champlain. Terrain is generally flat-to-gently rolling and traffic is minimal with the exception of Route 2 where 4-6 foot shoulders exist. West Shore Road is unpaved for 5.4 miles (indicated on the map) however it is generally in good condition and passable with a touring bike with fairly substantial tires. The recommended start/end point is at the ferry dock, where parking and provisions are available. Provisions, in addition to a hardware store, are also available in the village of South Hero.
Island Life - 11.6 miles - Grand Isle
Some people stay for a day, others for a lifetime. Island Life roams the backroads and shoreline of Grand Isle for a reflection of Island living, past and present. Terrain is generally flat with the exception of one hill. Traveling back roads (all paved), you will encounter minimal traffic. The recommended start/end point is at the ferry dock, where parking and provisions are available. Lodging is available at Inns and B&B's along the loop. Grand Isle State Park is also a good location to start the loop, especially if you'd like to camp.
A Trail to Two Beaches - 15.8 - Alburg & North Hero
This relatively flat "figure-8" loop connects two State parks, and may be shortened by riding only one of the circuits. By themselves, the Alburg circuit is 5.8 miles and the North Hero circuit is 9.3 miles. Great lake views abound. Traffic is minimal. Sections of the loop are unpaved (indicated on the map) however, generally they are in good condition and passable with a touring bike with fairly substantial tires. The recommended start/end point is at either Alburg Dunes State Park or North Hero State Park. Provisions, lodging, and parking are available in the Village of North Hero, just south of the loop on Route 2. If you do bicycle to North Hero, use caution on Route 2, as shoulders are narrow and traffic can be bothersome.
A Legacy of Ancient Stone - 10.1 - Isle La Motte
Following the perimeter of the Island, terrain is flat along a combination of paved and unpaved roads, all in good condition and all quiet. Traffic is minimal, in fact the loop is recommended for families. The recommended start/end point is St. Anne's Shrine on the west shore. Here, cyclists are welcome to visit the peaceful grounds or swim at the Shrine's sandy beach. Food, public restrooms, picnic tables, and parking are also available at the Shrine. Provisions are also available at a General Store. Lodging is available at B&B's along the route.
Liquid Elixir - 11.7 - Alburg
The loop begins your trip in Alburg Village at the Alburg Rail Trail. It then follows backcountry paved and unpaved roads through wetland areas. Traffic is minimal and terrain is relatively flat. There are no services along this loop, except in the Village.
Missisquoi Rail Trail - 26.5 miles - St. Albans, Sheldon & Richford
Vermont's longest continuous Rail Trail extends its reach from the Champlain Valley in St. Albans to just shy of the Canadian border in Richford. The Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail's 26.5 slow, steady miles use its sweeping views and mountainous backdrops to introduce travelers to the quiet splendor of northwest Vermont's rural communities. Made of crushed limestone, the trail crosses slightly rolling terrain through agricultural farmland and picturesque river valleys. Allowed uses include bicycling, walking, running, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and showshoeing. Motorized wheeled vehicles are prohibited.