Easy Walks Visits the Island Line Trail in Vermont

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Sunset views of the Adirondacks from the Island Line Trail

Our new tandem bike is finished and this was our first “overnight” trip, meaning transporting the bike and everything else we need to travel with. We had heard about a railtrail that crosses Lake Champlain and it looked amazing. Making the time for a 4-day weekend, we set off, to see what we could see.

 

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Views from the trail, just north of the Burlington Waterfront, as we traveled along the Burlington Railtrail, which links to the Island LIne Trail.

The Island Line Trail includes the Burlington Bike Path, which is where we started our adventure. We found plenty of places to park even on a Saturday morning near the waterfront in downtown Burlington. Additional places to park are available both north of the waterfront and south to its terminus at Oakledge Park.

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Hanging out on the bridge that crosses the Winooski River as it feeds into Lake Champlain. Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks are in the background

We had to stop for photos almost immediately as we headed north. Long before we got to where the trail crosses Lake Champlain, we were stunned by the lake views along the way. The bridge crossing the Winooski River was a great place to stop as well.

One section of the trail requires biking through a neighborhood, but the signs were pretty clear, and we found our way north, back onto dedicated trail. While the southern portion of the trail is paved, the section near the shore where it crosses Lake Champlain is gravel, mostly hard packed, but not something those riding street bikes would enjoy.

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The beginning of the warning signs… Trail curves to the right, as it crosses the lake

And once we got a short distance off shore into the lake on the trail, signs started warning to take care. Wind, waves, and ice have taken a toll on the trail. Erosion of the edges is pretty severe in places, requiring riders to travel single file. Most fellow travelers heeded this warning, but it felt a little tense at times as riders hurried by us.

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Multiple traffic cones and reflectors warn travelers to take care on the trail

This is a popular trail, and the edges of the trail are quite damaged. In fact, the trail will be closed for repairs starting September, 2019, and is not scheduled to reopen till 2020. The trail was repaired in 2018, but clearly once again was damaged and is in need of repair. Check before heading out to visit, to be sure the trail is open.

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A long way to swim across. The ferry operates seasonally to transport travelers across the opening in the trail. Ferry is on the other side, near the center of the photo

Near South Hero Island, where the trail ends, a ferry allows for travel across the open water which allows for boat traffic to cross the trail. We missed the ferry (it operates seasonally, and we could have taken it, but chose not to wait till it returned to our side.) But the next day, we drove to South Hero Island (there is a causeway, Rt. 2, to the island) and made our way to Allen Point. Several parking areas allow for walking, biking and fishing access out to the remaining section the Island Line Trail that juts into Lake Champlain.

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Headed out from South Hero Island, at Allen Point, to watch the sunset.

We arrived near sunset, and were treated to stunning views of the Adirondack mountains, and Lake Champlain.

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Stone carving in one of the multiple blocks of marble that stabilize the trail

Of interest were also the massive blocks of marble that were used to stabilize the railbed.

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A windy, stormy day, but the rain blew right past us and we had an amazing ride

Would we go back? In a heartbeat. If you plan to go, be sure to check if the trail is open. Part of what makes this trail so amazing also makes it very vulnerable to wind, waves, and weather. We felt really lucky to get out on the trail before it is closed for repairs.

Happy trails!

Marjorie

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Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed three guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,”  “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts,”  and edited “Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com

https://www.amazon.com/Easy-Walks-Massachusetts-2nd-Northbridge/dp/0989204340

More Easy Walks in Massachusetts

Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed

 

 

 

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