|Green Mountains Loop
Burlington, VT to Burlington, VT
1 Map Set (376.0 mi.)
| GPS | Overview
Green Mountains Loop Overview Image
|1. Burlington, VT to Burlington, VT (376 mi.)||Detail
Green Mountains Loop Section 1 Detail Image
While the Green Mountains dominate the views and the geography of Vermont, the pastoral scenery and rural roads of Vermont are leading reasons for its popularity as a cycling destination. Be sure to enjoy at least one breakfast of pancakes, waffles or french toast to savor the regional delight of locally produced pure maple syrup.
When ridden in a clockwise direction, the main route of the Green Mountains Loop Bicycle Route travels from Burlington, Vermont, north then eastward into New Hampshire along the Connecticut River. It continues back across Vermont then north into New York along the shore of Lake Champlain. If you prefer, alternates provide a route that can be ridden entirely in Vermont. The prettier and more rural, but hillier 67-mile East Alternate leaves the main route in St. Johnsbury and rejoins it in South Royalton. A highlight of this alternate is pedaling through picturesque Peacham which has appeared in more Vermont Life photographs than any other town. From Middlebury, the 55.5-mile West Alternate is a faster return to Burlington that avoids the two ferry crossings of Lake Champlain found on the main route.
The Missisquoi Valley Trail, a rail bed conversion, is utilized for a short portion of the route and has a well-packed crushed limestone surface. The parallel SR 105 is suitable for those who prefer pavement. Both offer good views of the Missisquoi River and Jay Peak to the east.
Photo by Dennis Coello
Although much of the route lies within valleys, expect many hills of less than 200 feet. Crossing the spine of the Green Mountains involves climbs of 1,640' between Richford and North Troy, and 1,220' between Hancock and East Middlebury. To avoid the climb between Richford and North Troy, you can cross the border into Canada for a more level 15-mile alternate. Most of the route uses lightly traveled roads with no shoulder. Paved shoulders prevail where traffic is moderate.
The Green Mountains Loop can be ridden beginning in late May through the summer months. Generally, the cycling season in the region can be extended into mid October as long as you're prepared for cool, crisp mornings and brisk evenings. Showers are common throughout the spring, summer, and fall in northern Vermont. Thunderstorms account for most of the rain during the summer. Wind is seldom a problem for cyclists on this route. However, strong southerly winds in the Champlain Valley will occasionally affect riding for a day at a time.
Some campgrounds will charge a cyclist traveling by himself less if they have hiker/biker sites, but often they will charge the price of a regular tent or RV site, and that can easily be $10-$40/night. The maps list churches that have opened their doors to cyclists, but they aren't all that closely spaced. If you're friendly and ask around, you can often get yourself invited to camp in a yard. Our routes sometimes go through national forests (moreso in the west) and you are allowed to camp anywhere on national forest land as long as you "pack it in, pack it out." Many city parks are free to camp in.
You may also wish to sign up with Warmshowers, a reciprocal hospitality site for bicycle travelers, for other overnight options.