I am a big fan of rail trails. I don’t want to mountain bike, but I do want to be off the roads, and rail trails are the perfect solution. Plus, they were originally graded for trains so they’re never particularly steep, and they usually follow a river valley or some other scenic area.
The Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail was one of the first bike rides I did this spring back at the beginning of May, and finishing it today will probably be my last ride for the fall. 26 miles long, from St. Albans to Richford, we didn’t want to drive two cars that far to shuttle from one end to the other, nor did we want to commit to a 50+ mile ride, so we did two out and back rides of about half the trail each.
Back in early May, we started at the trail’s southern terminus in St. Albans, unsure how far we’d make it that day. It was cloudy and cool, but I loved the gravel path through the budding trees. There were some road crossings, but none of them had ice cream immediately nearby like I had hoped. We did a little over 11 miles to Kane Road, had a picnic lunch at the conveniently placed picnic table, then turned and rode back to the car.
We didn’t mean to wait this long to do the other half of the trail, but with such a sunny and warm October day, we had to take advantage and finish it before winter sets in. We drove back to Kane Road and got started. The leaves were mostly off the trees at this point, but there was still some fall color here and there. It was almost 15 miles to the end of the trail in Richford, where we turned back to return to the car.
The second half of the trail seemed easier than the first half to me, but I had been a little more active before this ride than before the one in spring. Outdoor activities are always a little rough in spring since mud season takes up most of it and I don’t get out as much then. Rail trails definitely dry out faster than hiking trails in Vermont though so I’ll have to focus on them in mud season in the future.
It’s my goal one day to live on a rail trail. I always envy the houses along the way whose yards back right up to it. Some day…