Bike Touring – The Best Way to Explore Burlington, Vermont

biking tour - burlington vermont lake champlain

Who would have thought that my 11 year old boy could pull off 26 miles of biking in one day. Especially since biking isn’t something we do on a regular basis back home. As a matter of fact, last time he was on a bike was almost six months ago when we visited my parents in Florida.

So when my son agreed to do thirteen miles in each direction by bike, my husband and I were a bit freaked out about what we would do if he couldn’t handle it.

My decision to do 26 miles came about after I talked to Emily, from Local Motion, in Burlington Vermont about our upcoming trip and bike rental. Listening to her passionately talk about biking in Burlington, I knew we had to do the Island Line Trail, at least a portion of it.

The trail actually goes all the way up to Canada, but a fun day trip is to start in Burlington and head to Allenholm Farms, which is on the first island, South Hero. And the reason I chose this location is for three reason:

  • Bike Ferry – Local Motion runs a bike ferry that takes you to the first island. I’ve never been on a bike ferry, and who wouldn’t want a ride on Lake Champlain.
  • Petting zoo – this is a perfect reward for my sons.
  • Food – they are the first place where you can eat that is fun for the whole family

Bike Touring in Burlington Vermont – An Absolute Must-Do

Burlington is the epitome of a biking city. There are so many amazing routes, roads, trails and respect for bikers that the city is rivaled with Portland, Oregon (said to be the number one city in the US for bikers).

After arriving to Burlington, I can see why. There are bike lanes along the main streets. When you head to the waterfront that’s where the bike route truly blossoms into one of the most beautiful routes I’ve been on in ages.

Local Motion was recommended to me by Laura, from Vermont Vacation. Before any trip I do a lot of research and work closely with the Tourism Boards of each destination. The people who work in these organizations, not only know their stuff, but have a deep love for it. That’s probably the reason they work there in the first place.

After reading as much as I possibly could about Burlington, I knew that the number one thing I wanted to do was a do-it-yourself bike tour. That’s when she directed me to Local Motion. This non-profit organization is a lot more than just a bike rental outfit, it is an integral part of Burlington’s community to improve and promote biking (more information about them below).

Note: You don’t have to do 13 miles each way. You can do as many miles as your family wants to. But I would recommend making a day out of it because there are plenty of pit stops along the way. And if you have other stuff planned, you will feel rushed and not liberated enough to do more, if you want. 

Let the Burlington Bike Tour Begin

Local Motion’s store is located right on the bike route and has a ton of different bikes to choose from. You can do the regular hybrid bikes, tandem (I recommend reserving these since there aren’t too many of them) and kids bikes. They even have a whole slew of carriage attachments for younger kids.

bike rentals - burlington vermont - child carriage attachments

The bike route is about ten miles to the bike ferry. It takes you through different communities, but on a separate path where no cars go.

bike path, burlington vermont

Then you arrive to the causeway which is only for bikers and walkers. And this is the most mind blowing trail which literally runs right in the midst of Lake Champlain. You have spectacular views on both sides of you.

The trail is flat so it’s easy to negotiate. And in perfect condition.

lake champlain causeway - burlington vermont

The Bike Ferry

Oddly enough, the reason for the bike ferry is that there is a 200 foot break in the causeway. You can practically swim across, but with bikes that’s a completely outrageous idea.

biking tour - burlington vermont - bike ferry

My take on the break in the path is that boats cross over from one side of the lake to the other and it’s much cheaper than building a small drawbridge. And besides, they earn money with the ferry.

lake champlain bike route

The ferry is also a great resting opportunity.

Price for Ferry – $8 round trip per person, bike included

They have season passes which are around $20 for the season, making it super affordable if you plan on using the ferry more than three days.

South Hero, Grand Island

After the ferry ride, the causeway ends and you start on country roads.  Even though we are on roads with cars now, I wasn’t worried for my son at all, since we are in rural-landia. Aside the fact that there are very few cars on the road, the ones that are there seem to really respect the bikers and drive with a lot of caution. And the roads are wide.

south hero, vermont

Allenholm Farms and The Accidental Farmer

allenholm farm, vermont

After almost eleven miles of pure cycling we made it to the farm.

The petting area was a huge hit for both my boys.

allenholm farm, vermont - petting zoo

It was a perfect break to refuel and get back on the road.

Part of Allenholm Farm, but separately owned, is the Accidental Farmer Cafe. It offers great burgers, hot dogs, and tons more perfect for all ages to eat.

the accidental farmer - biking tour, burlington vermont

And the farm store itself offers snacks and the famous Maple Creamies (ice cream) which we devoured as well.

We spent over an hour here before heading back.

My Take On It

This has been one of the absolute best day trips my family and I have ever done. It was just the 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 into a stunning 14-mile trail that travels along, and over, Lake Champlain.
  • The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy inducted Vermont’s Island Line Trail into its national trails “Hall of Fame” on December 1, 2010
  • In 1899, the Rutland-Canadian Railroad built the Island Line – 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 well 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. The study did not generate sufficient enthusiasm and sections of the railbed were sold off.
  • 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.

Video Fun

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-supported 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 walkable 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

Bike Rentals

Rental Prices

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

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About Marina Kuperman Villatoro

Marina Kuperman Villatoro CEO of TravelExperta.com, a travel resource site to inspire families to travel with kids of all ages. Marina has been an expat 10+ years in Central America raising 2 boys in a multicultural, trilingual household. She travels all over the world with her family to give first hand experiences of where to eat, stay and play with kids. Needless to say, it’s never boring! Join Marina on Facebook and Twitter for more unique and boutique family travel!

One Response to Bike Touring – The Best Way to Explore Burlington, Vermont

  1. Love the post! This looks so fun, and biking is a great way to get some exercise while experiencing nature and the surrounding destinations.
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