New England's North Country Cycling Tour
Assembly Point: Burlington, VT
|Tour Cost: $3,100
(includes all lodging, all breakfasts and dinners, van transfer prior to tour and shuttle to Portland following tour, park entrance fees, support van, leaders, tour maps & narratives)
In the course of the 30 years that we’ve been doing these sorts of things, we’ve developed an identity as a group with a well-defined focus on the western regions of the U.S. and Canada. Why in the world, then, would we contemplate a cycling tours for New England—a legitimate question that deserved a candid response. We spent the final week of our 2010 Sea-to-Shining-Sea cross-continental odyssey cycling from Lake Champlain through Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, the northern tip of New Hampshire, across Maine to Bar Harbor, and we were totally awed by that experience. Little wonder that bicycle touring as we know it today evolved in New England. No other region evokes the image so vividly of the cyclist meandering carefree on magical rural roads to nowhere in particular. How could we not include northern New England in our biking trips on the East Coast?
And so, here’s what we have planned for New England’s North Country in the season ahead. We’ll assemble in Burlington, VT, home to the University of Vermont and majestically situated on Lake Champlain’s eastern shore. We’ll ride south along Champlain’s shore early morning of Day 1 to Charlotte and board the ferry across the lake to its western bank. Back on the bikes at Essex, we’ll head north to Plattsburgh, where we’ll spend the night.
Realize that, in the course of the two days that we’ll devote to Lake Champlain as a part of this program, we are barely touching upon what cycling is to the Champlain region. The incomparable network of bike trails that encircle the lake—in Vermont to the east, New York to the west, and Quebec to the north—totals almost 2,000 miles collectively.
Day 2, we’ll ride north from Plattsburgh along Champlain’s western shore to Rouses Point, cross the lake once again as we return to the Vermont shore, continue south through Swanton to St. Albans Bay, and ultimately to St. Alban’s, where we’ll spend the night.
We’ll ride from the Champlain region early morning of Day 3 and head for Vermont’s magnificent Northeast Kingdom by way of Enosburg Falls. We’ll skirt the northern flank of Jay Peak and on to Newport on the shores of Lake Memphremagog.
Day 4, we’ll ride to the Quebec border at Norton and parallel the boundary to Canaan. We’ll cross the beautiful Connecticut River into New Hampshire and ultimately begin our climb up to Dixville Notch and our overnight at the renowned Balsams Resort. For you political junkies who faithfully track the returns during our presidential elections, Dixville Notch, NH, is always first to report. At midnight on Election Day, all of Dixville Notch’s eligible voters (all of whom are employees at the Balsams because that’s all there is to Dixville Notch) gather in the Voting Room, cast their ballots, and then move on to a pre-dawn feast prepared at the hotel.
We’re headed for Maine on Day 5 and another overnight treat at the Wilson Lake Inn on the lake of that name near Wilton. Day 6 is that day we referred to ominously earlier in this narrative. New England climbs may be short, but they are frequent and memorable. We promise that you’ll have memories of your own to cherish by the time we roll into Belfast on the ocean, and our overnight at the Belfast Harbor Inn. No visit to Maine would be complete without a lobster dinner—actually an authentic lobster dinner at a real lobster pound, and we have one planned at Young’s on this evening.
Day 7 and we’re off to Bar Harbor. We would be there in a heartbeat if we followed Highway1, but that’s not our plan. We’ll ride the backroads just to the west of the convoluted Maine Coast, and ultimately cross to Mt. Desert Island and our final night at the Bar Harbor Grand in Bar Harbor. We’ll tour Acadia National Park leisurely on our final morning and then van shuttle to the Portland airport where our New England Cycling Tour concludes.
|Day 1||Burlington — Charlotte-Essex Ferry across Lake Champlain — Plattsburgh, NY||51 miles|
|Day 2||Plattsburgh — Rouses Pt. — St. Albans. VT||50 miles|
|Day 3||St. Albans — Enosburg Falls — Newport||61 miles|
|Day 4||Newport, VT — Canaan — Dixville Notch, NH; overnight at The Balsams||65 miles|
|Day 5||Dixville Notch, NH — Wilton, ME; overnight at Wilson Lake Resort||71 miles|
|Day 6||Wilton — Belfast; overnight at Belfast Harbor Inn||81 miles|
|Day 7||Belfast — Bar Harbor; overnight at Bar Harbor Grand||65 miles|
|Day 8||Acadia National Park; tour concludes early afternoon — van shuttle to Portland Airport|
Total mileage – 444