The routes on this site should be treated as intermediate-to-advanced bikepacking routes. The terrain is challenging and can be difficult to navigate. Riders should use a GPS unit like a Garmin, Wahoo, or smartphone with and app like Gaia or RideWithGPS.
What should I expect?
Expect soul-crushing climbs followed by descents that will make your heart sing. Expect occasional rough terrain that will test your handling skills. Expect ATVs, horses, and other cyclists. Expect friendly general stores with delicious food. Expect miles of smooth dirt as well as overgrown Class 4 roads that have seen little traffic all season.
The terrain is difficult, but if you are prepared with the right bike for your skill level and a reliable navigation system, you will have a great time. Just set your expectations according to your experience. Your average speed on a previous gravel ride may have been 12 mph, but this does not translate to being able to ride 48 miles in 4 hours on a bikepacking trip. 48 miles of bikepacking in Vermont is a big day.
What makes Vermont bikepacking unique?
If you have experience bikepacking in Western North America, here are some pointers to prepare you for the contrast.
locale: You're never nowhere. Vermont is scattered with small towns. Resupply options are much more common here than in Western routes.
moisture: Many bikepackers choose to pack up gear still damp in the morning, then wait until lunchtime to unpack and spread in sunshine. Be smart about where you camp. Avoid grassy openings without tree cover as morning "patchy valley fog" is ubiquitous. The difference of a few yards can make the difference between waking up wet and waking up dry..
elevation: The rule of thumb for our routes is 1000 ft per 10 mi elevation gain. There are some flatter sections, like the southwest leg of the Super 8. But be ready to climb!
terrain: be ready for the following: copious climbing, washed-out rocky ancient roads, gutted ATV roads with walls 6 ft deep, huge puddles, smooth dirt roads, smooth rail trails, and a little bit of pavement.
Cell reception along these routes is very poor. Plan accordingly. Download your maps ahead of time (better yet use a Garmin). It is advisable to use a SPOT tracker in case of emergencies and to share your progress with friends.
Amtrak has a daily run between Brattleboro and Montpelier. A limited number of bikes are allowed on each train! (2021 update: closed still due to coronavirus).
Speed Limits: When driving along Vermont state highways, expect the speed limit to drop suddenly to like 30 mph as the highway becomes a town's main street. Police cruisers are often stationed at these spots. Take the speed limits seriously!
Long-term parking: search google maps for a Park'n'Ride near your drop-in point. You can also check out our facebook group and float a question to the masses. Check out the waypoints map.
Camping: Exact directions to campsites are sometimes only available in-person at trailhead kiosks. Sometimes there are hunting season closures. Don't expect to be able to plan exact camping points without consulting local resources, which can usually be tracked down online. Google maps is not 100% accurate with public land borders, and local maps will take precedent. Be respectful and honor road and trail closures. General stores are a good resource, bike shops are too. Town offices can be as well. Give them a call during daytime hours and be friendly. National Forest camping is free! Just camp out-of-sight of roads.
Don't make a fire unless you're sure you're in a place where that's okay.
Be safe, be kind to others, and leave no trace.
The Super 8 will take you on roads where there are “Posted: No Tresspassing” or Private Property signs on either side of you. These signs don’t mean the road is private property; they mean the land on either side of the road is private property. Stay on the route and don’t stop to camp or find water here. Ride with confidence!
If a road/path/trail is closed, then please follow the posted detour. Trail closure signs should be very obvious – the right of way may be blocked with high-vis tape, or a sign will be posted in the roadway, clearly in the way of travel. If you come across something like this, stop to figure out the best way to get back on the route. Vermont Bikepackers strives to maintain up-to-date GPS data, and while the .gpx track is accurate, we cannot catch every trail closure in real time.
Bikepacking routes in Vermont use the State's ancient “Class 4” roads. Class 4 roads are the responsibility of their townships, and they are not required to be maintained. It is very common for a Class 4 road to skirt the edge of a property, or to begin in someone’s driveway and then divert into the forest. You may feel briefly like you are trespassing. Vermont Bikepackers has been working diligently to ensure that the .gpx files keep riders legal trail and off private property. So again, ride with confidence.
Sometimes it happens that a landowner comes to the understanding that the road passing through their property is not a road, and that the roadway is private property. In this case, the most important thing is not to be right, but to be respectful. If you are confronted, you could clarify that you are just on your way through, and that you fully expect the road to be rough and primitive but that you know it gets better on the other side of the hill you are very likely about to climb. Try to convey to them that you know what you are doing. If they forbid you to continue on the right-of-way, then ask them if they have any better recommendations for how to get to the next town. Please be friendly and remember that you are representing bikepackers everywhere.
The Super 8 puts you on brief stretches of pavement. The route curators have tried to avoid high-speed traffic and roads with little- to no-shoulders. As a general rule: the farther you descend, the closer you are getting to a pavement stretch. Please be mentally prepared to ride on the pavement and share the road. As a rule of thumb, traffic will be worse closer to rush hour on weekdays (3pm – 6pm). On weekends you might encounter slower yet more distracted drivers, especially in autumn. Be prepared to navigate traffic short stretches.
It is easy to get wrapped up in your own head after many days on the bike. An experienced bikepacker knows that lack of sleep and extended time in the woods can deplete good judgment and social graces. As you encounter others on the road or the trail, or in towns at convenience stores, remember that in all likelihood you are a guest in their neighborhood, so please try your best to be respectful. Again, you are representing bikepackers everywhere.
Riding at night and encountering groups on ATV’s or in trucks can be frightening and may trigger your fight-or-flight response. In this situation remember that they are out having an adventure just like you are, and remember that you are all sharing the space. They will laugh and tell you you’re crazy. They may even offer you a beer.
DO NOT CAMP IN A ROADWAY, TRAIL, or PATH, no matter how primitive or un-traveled it looks. You would be amazed at how easily ATV, jeep, and overland drivers can clean sections of gnarly road.
Stay apprised of hunting seasons in Vermont.
If you come across an equestrian – slow down and speak to the horse! Use a loud, friendly tone. The horse’s rider will be grateful. Spooked horses are no fun for anybody.
If you see a bear, yell at it as soon as you see it so that you don’t spook it. Black bears will run away from you.
If you see a moose, you have been imbued with magical powers so please use them responsibly.
Is the XVT the same as the Cross Vermont Trail or the VTXL?
No! Sorry the names are confusing. The Cross Vermont Trail is a multi-use, four season path that runs West-to-East. The XVT Bikepack Route runs north to south and is intended for mountain bikes. The VTXL is a north-south gravel bikepacking route published on bikepacking.com.
Depends on which route. See the routes page -- we have listed recommended min. tire sizes for each route. Use your own judgment to
make the final call. If in doubt, size up. If you want to experiment with smaller tire sizes, be ready for occasional hike-a-bikes, but know that you'll be faster on the smooth stuff. It's a trade-off.