Biking a harrowing run of singletrack can be exhilarating, but some people just prefer a casual walk, a flat run or a place to push the baby jogger.
Good news. Vermont has rejuvenated rail trails and rec paths throughout the state perfect for the more casual outdoors person. Rail trails have crushed stone gravel surfaces while the rec paths are paved. Check websites for interactive maps, access points and amenities to keep you refreshed along the way. This summer, make it a goal to do them all!
Lamoille Valley Rail Trail
93 miles (33 currently open)
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail extends across some of Northern Vermont’s most beautiful landscapes. The trail spans the width of the state, from the Connecticut River Valley to within two miles of Lake Champlain. Thirty-three miles are open, and in 2020 the Vermont Legislature authorized funding to complete the trail by 2023.
The section from Morrisville to Jeffersonville runs parallel to the Lamoille River and has mountain and farmland views.
MORE INFO: lvrt.org
Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail
This crushed-stone rail trail is one of the longer and more scenic in the state, passing through the heartland of dairy farms and cornfields of northwestern Vermont, from St. Albans to the Canadian border. It follows the railbed of Central Vermont Railroad’s Richford Branch, starting on the north side of Saint Albans and heading northeast to the terminus in Richford. Shortly after departing St. Albans, the trail passes through villages, cornfields, dairy farms, bridges, and a lot of red barns.
MORE INFO: mvrailtrail.org
Stowe Rec Path
The Stowe Recreation Path is an award-winning, internationally recognized greenway stretching from Stowe Village to Topnotch Resort on the Mountain Road, with numerous access points along the way. The path crosses the West Branch of Little River several times on long, arching bridges designed specifically for the path. Views of Mount Mansfield are common, especially from the northern end. Access to restaurants, lodges, and local businesses make the bike path one of the most popular recreation assets in Stowe.
In the spring 2017, bike maintenance stations were installed at Lintilhac Park and Chase Park. They have all the tools necessary to perform basic maintenance, from changing a flat to adjusting brakes and derailleurs.
MORE INFO: stowerec.org
Island Line Trail
If you’re keen on variety, this trail has a lot to offer, including one novel segment, the Colchester Causeway. It’s one of the more unusual “trails” in Vermont, extending three miles into Lake Champlain, where the scenery is spectacularly aquatic.
The Island Line Trail was once the Central Vermont Railway, which was converted to a rec path in the 1970s. It’s an easy trail that passes by beaches, parks and backyards, and offers great views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks.
Starting on the waterfront in Burlington, the trail heads north, skirting Lake Champlain, eventually reaching the aforementioned causeway. At the end of the causeway you can take Local Motion’s Island Line Bike Ferry (seasonal) to cross “The Cut,” a 200-foot gap in the causeway, with South Hero on its far side.
MORE INFO: localmotion.org
Montpelier to Wells River
This rail trail passes through Groton State Forest, which comprises more than 26,000 acres and lies halfway between Barre and St. Johnsbury. For nearly 200 years the area was heavily logged, and at one point lumber was transported via trains that traversed the forest from Montpelier to Wells River.
The trail extends uninterrupted, except for occasional road crossings, from Ricker Pond to Plainfield. For a forested ride that passes by ponds, bogs and meadows, begin at the south end of Ricker Pond on Vermont Route 232, at a designated parking area. Ride as far as you want and turn around at any time.
MORE INFO: bit.ly/3gXgaYB
Route 127 Path
3.2 miles (one way)
This recreational path is situated north of downtown Burlington and South of Colchester and passes by wetlands, natural areas and the Winooski River. It connects Burlington’s Old North End to the New North End, and links suburbs and parks, and passes by the Ethan Allen Homestead, which features a museum and year-round events. While primarily for recreation, the path offers opportunities to spot wildlife on the Intervale, including a wide variety of birds.
A portion of the Route 127 Path is part of the Burlington Wildway Trail. The trail heads south into Ethan Allen Park from the path and through the Ethan Allen Homestead to the east on its way to Salmon Hole Park. It’s definitely worth exploring.
MORE INFO: enjoyburlington.com
SoBu Recreation Path
A collaboration between the residents in South Burlington and the town resulted in this 26-mile network of paved, off-street trails that skirt by neighborhoods, view points and Lake Champlain. Overlook Park on Deerfield Road has stunning views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks in New York. It’s a great place to watch the sunset.
Another segment winds through Farrell Park, a heavily forested oasis of greenery, while another section takes you through Red Rocks Park along the water, with great views of Lake Champlain and a popular swimming hole.
MORE INFO: bit.ly/3xQdK4y