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Biking Lake Champlain

Updated on March 12, 2015

Bike Lake Champlain

When you think of Lake Champlain, your first thoughts are probably about water sports, or the history of the area, or maybe even Champ. Did you realize that there are a series of bikes paths that will enable you to travel by bike completely around the lake? Or that part of one of these bike paths actually travels across the lake itself?

In addition to the connected bicycle trails and paths around the lake, there are many side trails to explore some of the many activities and attractions in this beautiful and historic area when biking Lake Champlain.

The Champlain Bikeway forms a 363-mile route around the entire Lake and along Quebec's Richelieu River. Although it is mostly paved rural roads, there are some unpaved sections that offer spectacular scenery or avoid heavily traveled main roads. Where the Bikeway uses unpaved roads, alternative paved roads are available for cyclists with narrow tires or who don't care for an unpaved road experience.

'Themed loops' of 10 to 47 miles in length connect with the Champlain Bikeway and follow both paved and unpaved roads. The loops with unpaved sections are usually in good condition for cross-bikes or touring bikes with substantial tires.

CanAm Bicycle Tour - Vermont/Quebec/New York - 225 mile CanAm bicycle tour from Burlington, VT to Montreal and back

Burlington Bike Path

Burlington Bike Path
Burlington Bike Path

Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path - Burlington, Vermont

Burlington Bike Path
Burlington Bike Path

Probably the best known of the area's Bike paths and trails is the Burlington Bike Path. Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path extends 7 1/2 miles from Oakledge Park in the Lakeside region of Burlington's South End to Winooski River in the city's North End. From here it is connected by a bike path bridge to the Colchester Bike Path. Along the way, the bike path connects the city's six waterfront parks and the Waterfront district itself. The Waterfront Bike Path follows the shore of Lake Champlain and provides wonderful views of the lake and New York's Adirondack Mountains to the west.

Originally the bed for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad company, the Bike Path was part of the 'Rails-to-Trails' initiative. With federal and state funding the Burlington Bike Path, one of the first in New England, was finished in 1986.

With estimated use by over 150,000 bicyclists, in-line skaters, joggers and walkers each year, the Bike Path is one of Burlington's more popular features. A free shuttle bus on College Street shuttle links the Waterfront and the Bike Path to downtown Burlington's Church Street Marketplace and the University of Vermont (UVM). The Burlington Bike connects Burlington to the Grand Isle and South Burlington bike resources and is a part of Burlington's on-street biking network.

For more info on the Burlington Bike Path, call the Burlington Parks and Recreation at (802) 864-0123.

25 Bicycle Tours in the Lake Champlain Region: Scenic Tours in Vermont, New York, and Quebec - by Charles Hansen

25 Bicycle Tours in the Lake Champlain Region: Scenic Tours in Vermont, New York, and Quebec
25 Bicycle Tours in the Lake Champlain Region: Scenic Tours in Vermont, New York, and Quebec

This guide-book features 25 bike tours throughout the Lake Champlain region, from the southern tip of the lake to northernmost Mississquoi Bay in Quebec.


Attractions Along the Burlington Bike Path

These are some of the attractions located along the Burlington Waterfront Bike Path. In addition to what's listed below, there are many other things to see and do in Burlington as well.

  • Oakledge Park at the end of Flynn Avenue in Burlington's South End, offers 2400' of waterfront, including a swimming beach with a rocky shore and spectacular sunsets.
  • Union Station
  • ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Museum Lake Champlain's Center for science and the fresh-water lake studies.
  • Waterfront Park
  • Burlington Community Boathouse: Located near Waterfront Park and the ECHO Center on Burlington's waterfront.
  • Leddy Park & Gordon H Paquette Arena: Burlington's largest, most-used facility, with 1800' beach with lifeguards , indoor ice rink, tennis courts, ball and soccer fields, natural areas, trails and playground.
  • North Beach: Most popular public beach in Burlington.
  • The Ethan Allen Homestead: Historic home of Vermont's founder and leader of the Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen, located just above the Winooski River in Burlington's Intervale.

Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path

Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path
Burlington's Waterfront Bike Path

Backroad Bicycling in Vermont - by John S. Freidin

Backroad Bicycling in Vermont (Fourth Edition)  (Backroad Bicycling)
Backroad Bicycling in Vermont (Fourth Edition) (Backroad Bicycling)

Following the quietest, least-traveled back roads, these tours range from easy rides for beginners and families, to challenging routes for the most hardy cyclist. Every tour includes stunning views, charming villages, and special places to swim, eat, and visit. Whatever part of Vermont you choose, you will have clear, accurate directions, ensuring your finding your way with confidence on nearly traffic-free back roads.


Sunset from the Waterfront

Sunset from the Waterfront
Sunset from the Waterfront

Video: Lake Champlain Bike Tour - Lake Champlain Bike Tour

Colchester Causeway Bike Trail

Colchester Causeway Bike Trail
Colchester Causeway Bike Trail

Colchester Causeway Path - Colchester, Vermont

Winooski River bridge
Winooski River bridge

From the Burlington Bike Path cross the Winooski River Bridge to continue on the Island Line Trail through Colchester. The path travels through Colchester around the southern end of Mallets Bay; the trail continues out onto the causeway, formally known as Colchester Causeway Park, and into the middle of Lake Champlain. This is a spectacular trail and you won't want to miss it.

The trail is made of big pieces of marble, rock, dirt and packed gravel. This path is unique; you literally feel as though you are riding on the water. The views from out in the lake are spectacular.

Local Motion, a non-profit organization to promote cycling, rollerblading and walking, operates a bike ferry across the gap in the causeway during summer weekends, once across you can continue your ride to South Hero on Grand Isle. Check with Local Motion for the latest ferry schedule.

Colchester Causeway Bike Trail Video - What's it like to be in the middle of Lake Champlain?

On this video of the Colchester Causeway Bike Trail you actually get a feel for being in the middle of beautiful Lake Champlain.

Beautiful Lake Champlain!

Public Bathrooms Along The Island Line Bike Trail

This is a list of public bathrooms along The Island Trail route from south to north (from Burlington to South Hero):

Mile #

0.0 ~ Oakledge Park, Burlington, VT- (Bathroom)

2.5 ~ Burlington Community Boathouse, Burlington, VT- (Bathroom)

4.0 ~ North Beach Boathouse, Burlington, VT- (Bathroom)

5.0 ~ Leddy Park (in arena), Burlington, VT- (Bathroom)

8.5 ~ Airport Park, Colchester, VT- (Bathroom)

13 ~ Fish & Wildlife Access Area, South Hero, VT- (Port-o-let)

17 ~ Snow Farm Winery, South Hero, VT- (Port-o-let)

16 ~ White's Beach, South Hero, VT- (Port-o-let)

17 ~ Seb's Snack Bar, South Hero, VT- (Port-o-let)

Bike Ferry

Bike Ferry
Bike Ferry

Bike Ferry Schedule: 2014

June 14 - Sept. 6: Every day. (Thursdays until 9 PM)

Sept. 7 - Oct. 14: Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays- Hours of operation 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Also will operate private charters for groups during the week.

The service costs about $100,000 a year and is funded 40% by fees.

Adults: $8 ($6 for Local Motion Members)

Youth (7-17): $5 ($4 for LM Members)

6 and Under: Free

Season passes cost $40. Available at the Ferry & Trailside Center

Bike Trails in the Lake Champlain Islands - Bike on 'Island Time'

After crossing the causeway into the Islands, bike along flat, quiet, scenic backroads along Lake Champlain's shoreline. Situated between Montreal, Quebec and Burlington, Vermont, the Lake Champlain Islands still retain a quiet rural charm; they are a stunning combination of endless water surrounded by picturesque mountains.

Linked in a 27-mile long chain, the Champlain Islands are connected to the mainland by bridges, ferries and causeways. Featuring lakeside farms, orchards and vineyards; the largest natural sand beach in Vermont; the 'world's oldest reef'; abundant recreational opportunities; and historic Revolutionary War villages.

Some long stretches of unpaved roads offer relative proximity to the lake and avoid the heavier traffic on U.S. Route 2. There are five 'theme loops' connected to the principal Champlain Bikeway in the Islands:

South Hero (Stone Castles): 13.4 miles - South Hero & Grand Isle

Follow West Shore Road from ferry in South Hero (unpaved for 5.4 miles but generally in good condition and passable with a touring bike) - with scenic views of Lake Champlain. Terrain is flat-to-gently rolling with minimal traffic, except on the return loop on U.S. Rte. 2. The recommended start/end point is at the ferry dock (parking available). Be sure to check out the Stone Castles and Bird House Forest in South Hero.

Grand Isle (Island Life) 11.6 miles - Grand Isle

This trail wanders the shoreline and backroads of Grand Isle, the largest island in Lake Champlain, and offers a reflection of Island living - both past and present. The terrain, except for one hill, is pretty flat. Traveling back roads (all paved), you'll encounter minimal traffic. The recommended start/end point for this loop is at the ferry dock. Inns and B&B's along the way offer lodging. An alternative start point is at Grand Isle State Park, especially if you'd like to camp.

North Hero (Trail to Two Beaches) 15.8 - Alburgh & North Hero

This figure-8 loop connects two State parks, offers spectacular lake views and is made up of two separate circuits - the Alburgh loop is 5.8 miles and the North Hero loop is 9.3 miles. Sections of the loop are unpaved but are generally in good condition, and traffic is minimal. Recommended start/end point is at either of the state parks: Alburgh Dunes State Park or North Hero State Park. If you do bicycle to North Hero Village, be cautious on U.S. Route 2; the shoulders are narrow and traffic can sometimes be hectic.

Isle La Motte (Legacy of Ancient Stone) 10.1 miles - Isle La Motte

Follows the perimeter of the Isle La Motte, terrain is flat, roads are in good condition and there is minimal traffic. Recommended start/end point is on the west shore at St. Anne's Shrine. Cyclists are welcome to visit the peaceful grounds or swim at the sandy beach. Food, public restrooms and parking are also available at St. Anne's. Isle La Motte is home of the Fisk Quarry site of the Chazy Reef - the world's oldest reef.

Alburgh (Liquid Elixir). 11.7 miles - Alburgh

This loop begins your trip in Alburgh Village at the Alburgh Rail Trail, then follows paved and unpaved backcountry roads through wetland areas. There is minimal traffic and the terrain is relatively flat.

The loop around Isle La Motte and following the lake through Alburgh is an ideal trail for beginning cyclists and families to explore.

Explorer's Guide Vermont (Thirteenth Edition) (Explorer's Complete) - by Christina Tree & Rachel Carter

Explorer's Guide Vermont (Thirteenth Edition)  (Explorer's Complete)
Explorer's Guide Vermont (Thirteenth Edition) (Explorer's Complete)

The authors offer great recommendations for the most rewarding spots to visit—artists’ studios, farmers’ markets, historic sites, and more—and highlight the best biking, hiking, swimming, winter sports, horseback riding, fishing, and paddling.

Enjoy four seasons of events and activities; whether you’re a visitor or a resident.


Video: Biking Around Lake Champlain - Photos from August 2006 bike tour around Lake Champlain

What Do You Think of Lake Champlain's Biking Trails?

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    • Tricia Deed profile image

      Tricia Deed 

      5 years ago from Orlando, Florida

      I looks like a wonderful place to go biking. No doubt, there is much to see and experience.

    • observant trave profile image

      observant trave 

      5 years ago

      nice for bicycling, wow what a beautiful place. I would like to go some day there.

    • Unlimited11-11 profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom McHugh 

      5 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      @TolovajWordsmith: I think the Colchester Causeway Trail and the Bike Ferry offer unique experiences for a rider looking for something different.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 

      5 years ago from Ljubljana

      Biking offers much better experience than driving with a car, so I am always interested for such 'adventures'.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Love the Burlington Bike Path


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