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Vermont: Middlebury Countryside & the Lake Champlain Coast

Cycle Vermont’s bucolic vistas at the pace that suits you. Prolonged stays at just two inns—one historic gem dating to 1827 and one waterfront resort—allow you to explore pastoral countryside and scenic lakesides as you wish, riding past classic red barns, timeless silos and sweeping fields grazed by dairy cows. With the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks watching over, you pedal the picture-perfect farmlands of the Champlain Valley, inspiration to generations of writers and artists. Absorb the small-town charms of Middlebury, Vergennes and Bristol. Take refreshing dips in Lake Dunmore and Lake Champlain. Ride under the canopy of state forests. Among bike tours in Vermont, this relaxed self-guided itinerary is truly special.

Tour Highlights

  • Indulge in the lakeside amenities of a historic resort
  • Stroll the shop-lined streets of Middlebury, one of Vermont’s inimitable charming towns
  • Pedal the Champlain Valley’s gently rolling farmlands, dotted with typical red barns, silos and dairy cows
  • Marvel at stunning Green Mountain vistas as you cycle through the quaint farmland of Panton
  • Pause on your own to visit the Morgan Horse Farm, where the famed breed is bred and preserved

What to Expect

This tour offers the full range of easy terrain mixed with moderate hills and is ideal for both beginning and experienced cyclists. Please verify your bike selection for this tour as it is not always possible to change bikes once you arrive on tour. Travel with your friends and family—we can accommodate multiple guests on this self-guided vacation. Our 24/7 support system is available if needed.

  • Daily Mileage: 8 - 51.4 miles|
  • Biking: 2 - 5 hours
Activity Easy/Moderate Easy / Moderate
Cycling
Bar Graph Beginner - Experienced
Cyclists
24/7 Support System 24/7 Support
System

Average High /
Low Temperature (°F):

Jun76º/54º

Jul81º/59º

Aug79º/57º

Sep69º/49º

Oct57º/39º

Average
Precipitation:

Jun3 in

Jul4 in

Aug3.6 in

Sep3 in

Oct3 in

Tour Only

5 nights in an historic inn and a lakeside resort Check
5 meals: 5 breakfasts Check

Road Bicycle (Carbon frame)

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Step-Through (Mixte Hybrid) Comfort Bicycle

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Step-Over (Diamond) Comfort Bicycle

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Electric-Assisted Bicycle (E-bike)

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Self-Guided Biking Packages Include:

Custom VBT bike, helmet, and bike bag

Welcome Orientation and bike fitting with Local host

Luggage transportation

Ride with GPS and daily route notes

VBT Road Book with destination information

24/7 support system

Flat kit and multi-tool

Your choice of VBT branded gear for your adventure

Itinerary

Sun, Jun 4 to Fri, Jun 9 - 2023

Show Itinerary:

Your bike tour in Vermont begins and ends in Middlebury. Rich in literary history, this charming New England town is home to Middlebury College and its annual Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, which has hosted writers from Toni Morrison and Eudora Welty to John Irving and George R.R. Martin. Make your own arrangements to Middlebury. For suggestions on traveling to Middlebury, please refer to your VBT Handbook. Burlington International is the closest airport. Travel time from the Burlington airport to Middlebury is approximately 60 minutes.

At 1:00 p.m., you meet your VBT Local host, and any other VBT guests arriving on the same day, for a Welcome Orientation in the lobby of the Middlebury Inn. Then take your pick from two rides around town, passing the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge, originally built in 1820, and the picture-perfect falls of Otter Creek, which runs right through town.

Enjoy drinks and dinner at the inn or walk to a nearby restaurant.

Today’s Ride Choices

Middlebury short option — 8 miles | Middlebury long option — 14 miles

What to Expect:

A short spin gives you the opportunity to get used to your bike, shift the gears, and practice riding. Cycle through Middlebury’s charming downtown and continue along residential roads around the edge of town. You cross the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge before viewing the Otter Creek Falls. Then head back to the inn.

Cycle through Middlebury’s charming downtown and past the campus of Middlebury College. Continue to some quiet country roads, following ridges with lovely views of Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks. Cross the Pulp Mill Covered Bridge before viewing the Otter Creek Falls. Then head back to the inn.

After a leisurely breakfast, you have a full day to explore as you wish on this Stay Put Day. Stroll the lovely Main Street, with its many shops, restaurants, and galleries. Browse the collections of Middlebury ephemera at the Sheldon Museum. At Cannon Park, a historic marker commemorates John Deere and his invention of “the plow that broke the plains.” From 1821 to 1825, Deere apprenticed at an area blacksmith shop before moving to Illinois, where he built the world’s first steel moldboard plow.

If the bucolic Vermont roads beckon, you can set out on a ride to the quiet town of Salisbury. On your way out of Middlebury, pick up snacks or a picnic lunch for later. These tranquil roads passing antique stores, weeping willows, and stone walls are meant to be explored at a relaxed pace, so take the time to soak in the picturesque Vermont vistas. Soon, you arrive at Lake Dunmore and Branbury State Park, whose name is a marriage of the towns of Brandon and Salisbury. If you decide to enter the park (we recommend that you do!), an entrance fee of approximately $4.00 gets you in. Enjoy your packed lunch and perhaps take a cool swim in serene Lake Dunmore. Refreshed and renewed, follow more scenic roads back to Middlebury.

Tonight, try one of Middlebury’s fine restaurants, which are all within walking distance of your inn.

Today’s Ride Choices

Lake Dunmore and Branbury State Park short option — 30 miles | Lake Dunmore and Branbury State Park long option — 34 or 39 miles

What to Expect:

Ride out of Middlebury on moderately hilly roads into Vermont’s bucolic farm country. Once you arrive at Lake Dunmore, the short option skirts the northern end of the lake and turns around at the entrance of Branbury State Park, returning to Middlebury on a slightly different route of similar terrain.

Ride out of Middlebury on moderately hilly roads into Vermont’s bucolic farm country. Once you arrive at Lake Dunmore, the long option takes you into Branbury State Park, circumnavigating Lake Dunmore in its entirety. For an additional 5 miles, take a short out-and-back ride to pretty Forestdale. Return to Middlebury on a slightly different route of similar terrain.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Move on from Middlebury today, choosing from several scenic routes that bring you into the heart of rural Vermont and to the picturesque shores of Lake Champlain. Begin with a ride along Middlebury’s peaceful back roads as the Hogback Mountain Ridge—a major foothill of the Green Mountains—rises before you. Two of your three options head north and deliver you to the tranquil village of Bristol, a gateway to the Green Mountains. By Vermont standards, the village is amazingly flat thanks to ancient geologic events that deposited a level “fan” of gravel at the New Haven River water gap. It’s an ideal spot to grab lunch at one of its cafes and enjoy a picnic on the green before browsing its interesting shops.

Head out when you’re ready for more scenic riding to Vergennes, passing picturesque Cedar Lake and rolling farm fields. Spectacular views of the Champlain Valley, the Adirondacks, and Otter Creek unfold before you as you make your way to Basin Harbor, the lovely resort on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain in Vergennes. For dinner, choose from Basin Harbor’s several dining venues.

Today’s Ride Choices

Middlebury to Basin Harbor short option — 24 miles | Middlebury to Bristol to Basin Harbor — 42 miles | Middlebury to Bristol to Lincoln to Basin Harbor — 51 miles

What to Expect:

The most direct route to Basin Harbor departs Middlebury into farmland and offers views of the Green Mountains. You pass charming Victorian farmhouses in Weybridge.  After 14 miles, you arrive in Vergennes, Vermont’s smallest “city” where small shops and restaurants invite you to linger. Continue west through lovely countryside until you arrive at Basin Harbor on the shores of Lake Champlain.

Cycle peaceful back roads along Hogback Ridge, a major foothill of the Green Mountains. You can stop in Bristol village for lunch, coffee, or shopping, enjoying its dramatic backdrop of Deerleap and South Mountains. Then cycle through rolling farmlands to Vergennes and the shores of Lake Champlain, enjoying spectacular views of the Adirondacks and Otter Creek.

Cycle peaceful back roads along Hogback Ridge, a major foothill of the Green Mountains. You can stop in Bristol village for lunch, coffee, or shopping, enjoying its dramatic backdrop of Deerleap and South Mountains. To experience Vermont’s Green Mountains up close, this long option includes an out-and-back moderate ride along the New Haven River from Bristol to the town of Lincoln. Then cycle through rolling farmlands to Vergennes and the shores of Lake Champlain, enjoying spectacular views of the Adirondacks and Otter Creek.

Spend the day as you wish, exploring the shores of Lake Champlain and the shops of Vergennes. Depending on the season, enjoy the many amenities at Basin Harbor, some complimentary and some at your own expense: swimming, tennis, golf and a wellness center. Or choose from several excursions that help you delve more deeply into the region’s scenic wonders. The resort’s private harbor and protected sandy beach offer lounge chairs and some complimentary watercraft. You may opt to join a guided kayaking excursion through the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, a tranquil haven for birdlife and river creatures.

If you’d like to get in more miles—and more stunning Vermont vistas—you can choose from three loop rides. First, cycle through a scenic valley and along the gently rolling farm fields of Panton, enjoying panoramic views of the Green Mountains to the east and the Adirondacks to the west. If you wish, ride a little further to the town of West Addison, a sleepy Vermont village boasting a scenic town common. Today’s longest option takes you to Chimney Point Historic Site, home to the 1785 tavern that once served Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and the setting of countless stories of Native American, French colonial and early American history. While here, enjoy views of the Champlain Bridge, half a mile long and one of the few bridges that spans Lake Champlain. Return to your resort whenever you’d like, riding through farmland with lake and mountainside vistas.

This evening, you may dine onsite or take a taxi into Vergennes.

Today’s Ride Choices

Basin Harbor to Panton — 18 miles | OR Basin Harbor to Addison — 23 miles | OR Basin Harbor to Champlain Bridge — 30 miles

What to Expect:

Basin Harbor is ideally located for a choice of three successively longer loop rides. Cycle along Lake Champlain and into gently rolling farmland, with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York always in sight. Turn due west at about 8 miles to the lake, and then at 9.3 miles, turn north with views of the lake on your left on the return to the resort.

Basin Harbor is ideally located for a choice of three successively longer loop rides. Cycle along Lake Champlain and into gently rolling farmland, with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York always in sight. At 12.3 miles, at the West Addison General Store, you turn north with views of the lake on your left on the return to the resort.

Basin Harbor is ideally located for a choice of three successively longer loop rides. Cycle along Lake Champlain and into gently rolling farmland, with views of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York always in sight. The longest option traverses the flat terrain of the Great Plains of Vermont. Turn due west at 14.3 miles, then reach the lake shore at about 15.5 miles. The Champlain Bridge and Chimney Point are at 17 miles. Continue north to return to your resort with views of the lake on your left.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Another day to relax and explore more of your breathtaking lakeside locale! You have many options. You may walk some of the area’s nature trails, swim in the lake, golf, or simply relax on the beautiful Basin Harbor grounds. Vergennes is also home to the fascinating Maritime Museum, which chronicles the history and ecosystem of Lake Champlain.

If you wish, pedal this morning into Vergennes along Otter Creek and continue to Kingsland Bay, 50 acres of beautiful state parkland where you can stroll nature trails and take in peaceful lake views ($4 entrance fee, at your own cost). Return back to Vergennes. Dubbed the “smallest city in America,” it’s an ideal spot for shopping and some of Vermont’s great farm-to-table food. You might duck into the Bixby Library to gaze upward at its elegant stained-glass dome. Linger in town over lunch, or pick up picnic supplies for an afternoon ride along Otter Creek to Ferrisburgh, once home to a Dutch trading post founded by settlers of New Amsterdam—today’s New York City. Your route leads you through the gently rolling farmland of the beautiful Champlain Valley.

Tonight, celebrate your self-guided bike tour in Vermont at one of the resort’s dining restaurants.

Today’s Ride Choices

Basin Harbor to Vergennes and Kingsland Bay — 20 miles | Vergennes to Basin Harbor — 7 miles | Vergennes to Ferrisburgh Loop — 14 miles

What to Expect:

Follow Otter Creek into Vergennes. From here, a 12.5-mile loop takes you through lush farmland and delivers you to Kingsland Bay State Park. You loop back through Vergennes where you may pause for shopping and lunch and then return to Basin Harbor. You return to Basin Harbor on the same road from this morning.

This additional loop ride delivers you to more majestic Champlain Valley vistas as you cycle rolling terrain to Ferrisburgh and continue back into Vergennes.

Included Meals: Breakfast

This final day of your Self-Guided Bicycling Vacation just may be one of the more memorable. You leave the shores of Lake Champlain and cycle to the tranquil town of Weybridge, adorned with fanciful Victorian farmhouses and westerly views across the Lemon Fair River. Later, you might choose to visit the University of Vermont Morgan Horse Farm, a National Historic site dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the Morgan horse through careful breeding and selection. To learn about their efforts, we recommend you stop here for a guided tour, which run on the hour with no reservations required (entrance at your own expense is $8.00 per person). Later, pedal into Middlebury and enjoy lunch on your own.

The tour concludes at the Middlebury Inn, where your luggage will be delivered. If you would like to shower before onward travels, Vermont Sun Fitness Center on Exchange Street offers shower facilities for $14 per person. The travel time for a taxi from Middlebury to Burlington International Airport is approximately 60 minutes. Please plan accordingly following airline and TSA recommendations.

Today’s Ride Choices

Middlebury — 24 miles

What to Expect:

Today’s ride follows quiet roads into Weybridge, passing Victorian farmhouses and spectacular views of the Green Mountains. After an optional visit of the Morgan Horse Farm, ride country roads into Middlebury, where you find many lunch options. The tour concludes at Vermont Sun and Fitness on Exchange Street, where showers will be available.

Included Meals: Breakfast

Vermont: Middlebury Countryside & The Lake Champlain Coast 4

Download PDF Itinerary:

Tour Only (PDF)

Accommodations (May vary depending on departure date. )

Reviews
12 out of 18 (67%)
4.4 out of 5 stars.
Read More Reviews

This is my first VBT bike tour and it did not disappoint, starting from sign up to finish. Chris our contact person in Vermont was so helpful, going out of his way to make sure our seats/bikes worked the best for us. The routes that were chosen were beautiful with interesting stops along the way and the lodging very nice. Ride with GPS worked really well, once we got the hang of it. We really like the freedom of the self-guided tour, along with VBT's organization.

Lois R, Oregon

Vermont: Middlebury Countryside & The Lake Champlain Coast

My wife and I recently completed a VBT tour in Vermont in the Middlebury and Vegennes area. We were looking for cool weather, the changing of the leaves and fresh air to breathe and relax. All was provided and the trip exceeded all our expectation. The accomodations were excellent. The others on the tour were so nice and the host, Gerry, was just great, going beyond what would be expected. I highly recommend this tour and Vermont Bike Tours. They took great care of us.

, Los Angeles, CA

Vermont: Middlebury Countryside & The Lake Champlain Coast

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