Whether you're new to biking, new to the area, just passing through, or just looking for something new, it can be hard to know where to look when it comes to finding a place to ride. Check out the routes below to follow for your next ride.
Road and Gravel Routes
Why do we love riding dirt roads so much? Dirt roads tend to be farther from the hustle and bustle of downtowns, quieter with car traffic, and closer to the peace that we all desire when we get on our bikes. You may pass a beautiful farm, crest a hill and catch a unique view, or make a convenient stop for snacks at a farm stand. Potholes and loose gravel might be more challenge than some are looking for, but others may find more entertainment in the varied surfaces and rolling hills that dirt roads often provide.
"Six Dirt Road Rides for Burlington-based Adventures" — These classic routes all depart from Old Spokes Home at 331 North Winooski Avenue in Burlington. All of them feature some of the best roads that you can get to within reasonable distance from downtown Burlington, and all of them feature lovely dirt roads. 'Heaven on Leavensworth,' 'The Governator,' 'East by Southeast,' and 'Rip-Town' all traverse roads that might be described as Class 4, but they're all on the easier, funner side of the distinction. Leave the car behind and ride from home!
The Island Line Trail, known colloquially as "the bike path," might be what makes Burlington known to the masses as a bicycling destination. With its car-free smooth surfaces, near total lack of hills and sweeping views, it is a fun and relaxing ride for everyone from the first-timer to the seasoned pro. The bike path ends with a 2-mile stretch known as "the spit," a former rail line that stretches out into the middle of Lake Champlain, nearly connecting Colchester to South Hero. A 100-foot gap separates the northern and southern sides of the spit, but Local Motion operates a bike ferry during the summer, should you want to continue farther.
Cycle the City is a great route by our friends at Local Motion. Fun for the whole family, Cycle the City includes waypoints related to history, environment, culture and agriculture. This route is largely on restricted bike paths, but includes some busy roads downtown. There is also a short section of trail through the Intervale, McKenzie Park, and the Ethan Allen Homestead, but it is smooth and passable on any bike.
Vermont is a world-class mountain biking destination, with trails sprinkled throughout the Green Mountains. And it doesn't have to be scary! Lots of the mountain biking to be done in Vermont can feel more like a relaxing walk in the woods than a death-defying, Red-Bull-sponsored, adrenaline-fueled shredfest (though there's plenty of that, too). We sometimes use the term 'all-terrain biking' or 'ATB' to refer to riding that is as much road, gravel, or double track as it is single track trail riding. Here are some of our favorite local rides:
Gilbrook Nature Area and Sunny Hollow are located in Winooski and Colchester respectively and offer great mountain biking within pedaling distance of Burlington. Sunny Hollow has trails for all levels, ranging from flat and smooth beginner trails to technical and hilly expert trails; keep it easy by staying in the upper area, or head down the hill and across the brook for a challenge. Gilbrook is home to a few double track trails that break up the ride to Sunny Hollow and can be super fun in their own right. Look out for the rollers and jumps just off the double track on the west side, but remember to look before you leap!
There's a good amount of all-terrain riding in Burlington's North End. This route may not feel the whole time like a 'mountain bike ride,' but it's a great way to get your tires on dirt, cruise through the woods, and mostly avoid heavy car traffic. Note: Burlington High School trails are currently only rideable as an out-and-back due to construction at BHS.
Colchester Woods is riddled with trails. The most obvious, Minor's Loop, is a 2-mile loop that begins in the back corner of the Colchester High School parking lot. It can be easy to get turned around in these woods, so it might be best to go with a guide who knows the trails for your first time (or to be ready to spend a lot of time looking at a map). Nonetheless, the trails can be super fun and rewarding. The easiest access points are through the Colchester High School parking lot or the road to the WXXX Radio Tower.
Adventure Cycling Association: Your bicycle travel connection. Check out their Green Mountain Loop and Adirondack Loop.
Cross Vermont Trail Association: Ride from Burlington to Wells River, VT, on the Connecticut River.
Vermont Bikepacking Routes by Bikepacking.com — Known by many as the authority on bikepacking routes, Bikepacking.com hosts a handful of routes that start, end, or are entirely based right here in Vermont.
Want tips on a sub-24-hour overnighter route or something that starts from right here in Burlington? Drop in and chat us up and we'll point you in the right direction.