Exploring Burlington during our trip in Vermont on bike was one of the best things we could have done. I am extremely grateful with the local tourism board to suggesting a self guided bike tour in the city, and across Lake Champlain. After doing this I understand why Burlington rivals with Portland when it comes to respect and friendliness towards bikers. It is all so safe and the trails are so good that even my 11 year old boy was able to do a 23 mile route without problem.
I would have never guessed that my 11 year old boy was ready to pull off 26 miles of biking in just one day, mainly because biking isn’t one of his regular activities. He hadn’t been on one for at least six months.
When we heard about the length of the tour planned for us in Burlingon, Vermont, my husband and I were worried about what we would do if he couldn’t handle it.
But after talking to Emily from Local Motion I decided it would be a good idea. I was convinced after listening how passionate she was about biking in Burlington. She made me want to do the Island Line Trail, or at least a portion of it.
This trail takes you near the border with Canada but we did the portion of it that starts Burlington and heads to Allenholm Farms. I had three main reasons to choose this location:
- Bike Ferry – Local Motion offers a ferry service that takes you to the first island. I this allowed us to have a boat ride Lake Champlain.
- Petting Zoo – The perfect reward for my boys.
- Food – They offer a fun place where all the family can eat.
Bike Touring in Burlington, Vermont – An Absolute Must-Do
As I recently discovered, Burlington is the epitome of a biking city. It has tons of different routes, trails and roads. But most importantly locals respect bikers. It definitely rivals with Portland, Oregon (said to be the number one city in the US for bikers).
The city has bike lanes along the main streets. But the bike line truly blossoms as you head to the waterfront. It turns into one of the most beautiful routes I’ve been on in ages.
I first found Local Motion by recommendation of Laura from Vermont Vacation. For all my trips I do a lot of research but I also contact the Tourism Boards of each destination. People working in them not only have a lot of knowledge but have a deep love for the place.
After a lot of reading about Burlington I decided I wanted a do-it-yourself bike tour for my family. So I told her and she recommended Local Motion. The best part about it is that aside from being a place that rents bikes they are a non-profit organization. They give back to the community by improving and promoting biking.
Note: There is no need to do 13 miles each way. You can do as many as you want. But even if you do small portion of the roads available schedule a whole day because there are plenty of pit stops along the way.
Let the Burlington Bike Tour Begin
Their store is right on the bike route with tons of bikes and sizes to chose from. There are regular hybrid bikes, tandem (if you want one of these reserve them, there aren’t too many of them) and kids bikes. They also have carriage attachments for younger kids.
The bike ride toward the ferry is ten miles. The best part is that it takes you to different communities through paths where no cars go.
There is also a causeway only for bikers and walkers. This is a stunning trail that runs right in the midst of Lake Champlain. Can you imagine the views on both sides?
Also the trail is flat.
The Bike Ferry
The reason for the ferry is a 200 meter break in the ferry. It is so small that you could probably swim across if you didn’t have a bike. It is also a great resting opportunity.
Price for Ferry – $8 round trip per person, bike included.
If you plan in using the bike ferry more than three days you can also get their season passes. They are $20 and make it super affordable.
South Hero, Grand Island
After the ferry ride you still have to continue on the causeway and then get to country roads. However keep in mind that in this case there are cars, but drivers here are very respectful, so I wasn’t worried for my son.
Allenholm Farms and the Accidental Farmer
We had already gone through about eleven miles of cycling when we made it to the farm. It had a huge petting area. It was a hit for both my boys and a perfect break for is before we went back on the road.
Then there is Accidental Farmer Café. It is part of the farm but owned by someone else. They offer tasty burgers, hot dogs, and tons more perfect for all ages to eat.
The farm store offers snacks and the famous Maple Creamies (ice cream).
My Take On It
My family and I do tons of day trips and this was one of our favorite. It is a perfect combination of nature, exercise and togetherness.
Fun Facts About the Island Line Trail
- The Island Line Trail unites the Burlington Bike Path, the Colchester Causeway, and the Allen Point Access Area in South Hero.
- The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy included Vermont’s Island Line Trail into its national trails “Hall of Fame” on December 1, 2010.
- The Rutland-Canadian Railroad built the Island Line in 1899.
- The Island Line is one of the world’s most spectacular stretches of railbed.
- The construction was finished in just over one year.
- The Island Line served the Rutland-Canadian Railroad and the communities until moving freight by other means became cheaper.
- The last passenger and freight trains ran in 1955 and 1961 respectively.
- In the mid-sixties, Governor Hoff commissioned a study to look at developing the line into a recreation trail. But the study did not generate sufficient enthusiasm.
- It was not until the early 1980’s in Burlington that citizens began to rally around the idea of a trail on the abandoned line.
Information About Local Motion
Who They Are and What They Do
Phone: (802) 861-2700
Address: 1 Steele St. #103 • Burlington
Website – Localmotion.org
- Local Motion is a member-supporter non-profit organization promoting people-powered transportation and recreation for healthy and sustainable Vermont communities.
- They have helped improve the local economy by developing regional trails, promoting walk-able communities, and fostering active lifestyles.
- Community leaders founded the organization in 1999 to develop the Winooski River Bike Ferry and the 10-mile historic Cycle the City tour.
- They help residents and towns build more sidewalks, trails and safe streets.
- They host events like Intervale XC Skiing and Great Ice to keep people active all year long.
- They run a community bicycle shop Bike Recycle Vermont in Burlington’s Old North End.
- They operate the Causeway Bike Ferry and are close to dramatically expanding service.
- They operate a Trailside Center on the Burlington waterfront providing maps, rentals and advocacy information.
- They improve the civility and safety on VT’s roadways through the Safe Streets Collaborative
- They manage the Trail Finder — a free online mapping resource for all area trails
Up to 1 Hour
Adult Bike $18
Tandem Bike $30
Kids Bike, Trailer or Tag-along $12
1 to 4 Hours
Adult Bike $25
Tandem Bike $42
Kids Bike, Trailer or Tag-along $18
4 to 24 Hours
Adult Bike $32
Tandem Bike $55
Kids Bike, Trailer or Tag-along $24
Each additional day
Adult Bike $20
Tandem Bike $35
Kids Bike, Trailer or Tag-along $16