Mountain-bike trails in Vermont

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of October 9-15, 1997
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Introducing Boy Scouts to rafting
Mountain-bike trails in Vermont
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Mountain-bike trails in Vermont
Question: My boyfriend and I will be taking our mountain bikes on vacation to Burlington, Vermont, area in October. Are there any adventure courses that include trail running, mountain biking, and/or kayaking in that area? We are distance runners in good condition. My boyfriend is an excellent mountain biker; I could use some lessons or a supervised event.

New York, NY
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: Though I haven't found an adventure course per se, I consider the entire state of Vermont to be an adventure course of sorts. If you've never been to Burlington, you'll see what I mean the minute you drive into town.

The city, which is home to five colleges, is also the gateway to freshwater fishing, sailing, and kayaking on Lake Champlain; also biking, hiking, or running on any number of rugged peaks within a half hour's drive.

I think you'll find that it's quite heavenly on a beautiful October day. You'll find an 8-mile-long lakefront trail and every type of boat on Lake Champlain you can imagine (Eastern Mountain Sports at 802-864-0473 rents kayaks for $25 to $35 per day, but call ahead to reserve a few before they get put up in the rafters for the season).

Mountain-bike trails in town are at a place called the Intervale, which is a belt of public land along the Winooski River, or you might also be able to catch a ferry over to the New York side of Lake Champlain for an all-day Adirondack tour.

Adventure Guides of Vermont (800-425-8747) is a good resource; even if you don't want to bother with a guided tour, the company's knowledgeable staff can give you some good pointers that will get you off and running.

A trail run to consider — one that has been recommended to me by a few diehard Vermonters — is the Camel's Hump trail. Within eyesight of Burlington, this loop is quite strenuous and beautiful, rapidly rising 2,645 feet in 7.4 miles.

To get there, you'll need to take I-89 to Waterbury. Drive through the town and across the Winooski River. Turn right on VT 100 South and drive 1.3 miles. Just past the US2/VT 100 South intersection, turn right. From there, you'll bear right on the Camel's Hump Road which parallels the river. Follow the road for approximately 11 miles to the Couching Lion Farm parking lot. From the parking lot, follow the trail until it splits in two. Take the left branch, the Dean Trail.

You'll ascend until you reach a junction with the Long Trail. Turn right and hike along rock outcrops until you can see the Camel's Hump summit in the distance. Follow the trail past the Alpine Trail junction until you reach the summit of the hump at 4,083 feet.

On a clear day you'll be able to see a half-dozen peaks in the distance, some of which are in Canada. After you've had your fill, continue north on the Long Trail to the junction with the Forestry Trail. Follow the Forestry Trail back to your car.

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