I’ve been hearing about the Lake Champlain Triple Ferry bike route for a while so I gathered some folks together to ride it for my birthday. A cue sheet is provided by the Green Mountain Bicycle Club, of which we took the ~40 mile route. It goes around the top half of Lake Champlain with the use of two car ferries and a bike ferry.
We met at Leddy Park in Burlington since parking is free there. The lot was mostly empty, probably because the beach was closed due to high E. Coli levels in the water from recent storms. From there, we rode south on the bike path to the ferry from Burlington to Port Kent, NY. I would have preferred not to put the hour-plus ferry ride right at the beginning of the trip, but it was the ferry with the most limited schedule, so I figured it’d be best to get it out of the way early. Once on the ferry, we all caught up and enjoyed the views while eating lunch.
The clouds were not looking great when we arrived in NY, but we decided to hope that the 30% chance or less of storms in the forecast wouldn’t hit us, and kept going. At the top of the second hill, Jon’s chain snapped. As he was fixing it, thunder starting booming, of course. But it was a quick fix, and as we were on the way again, we didn’t hear any more thunder. We were headed towards blue skies so we didn’t look back.
The route took us along some back roads for a bit before joining Route 9. There was more traffic but the shoulder was wide enough and it was nice riding. We passed a sculpture garden at one point that I would like to check out next time. We did eventually turn off Route 9 to take the Terry Gordon Bike Path into Plattsburgh. It looked like it ran along the lake on the map but there were actually railroad tracks and woods between the path and the lake so we couldn’t see it for the most part. We stopped at the end of the bike path before entering town to see how everyone was doing and do some googling to see where the nearest ice cream was.
We decided to get through town and then stop at Cabana Beach Bar for ice cream and beer just outside of town. Once through the main town center, there was another bike path next to the road that we could ride on and we soon arrived at Cabana Beach Bar. Turned out it was part of a city beach that charges a day use fee but they let us in free since we weren’t going to use the beach. I probably would find another place to stop next time since it wasn’t that great, but we were happy for the stop.
Leaving the bar, we took Cumberland Head Road instead of Route 314 around Cumberland Head to our next ferry – Plattsburgh to Grand Isle, VT. This was a much smaller ferry than the first one. It runs every fifteen minutes but we arrived just in time to ride on after buying tickets. It’s a short trip so we didn’t have time to do much on the way.
Riding out onto Grand Isle, we hit some gravel roads for a stretch, which my bike loved since it’s a hybrid, but it did slow down some of the road bike riders. Back on paved roads, we had to stop at a sign saying bikers welcome, free water and bathrooms. It was Health Hero Farm and they had an unmanned snack station to buy little snacks, but also free fill-ups on water and the aforementioned free bathroom. The owner did arrive back while we were stopped and chatted for a little bit.
We had to continue on, with no time to stop at the winery we passed next. (Next time!) We did, however, stop to gawk at a birdhouse forest on private land. The owners started putting them up a while back for swallows to move in since they eat mosquitoes. They kept adding more birdhouses through the years and it’s now become a bit of an attraction, although on private land so you probably shouldn’t walk through it. And for some reason, there are also dinosaurs in there too. Why not?
We made it out onto the causeway and onto the Local Motion bike ferry a half hour before they closed. The ferry just takes you around a short cut in the causeway so it didn’t take long to get to the other side. As we continued down the Island Line Rail Trail, we could see it raining over Burlington, where we were headed.
Once back on the Burlington side of the lake, it was an easy ride back down to Leddy Park. The rain clouds made it darker as we got closer, but there wasn’t a drop of rain until we were back in the parking lot. Success!
Here is Jon’s Strava track. The actual riding is about 40 miles, but the 50+ miles listed there includes the ferries.