Smugglers Notch is a narrow mountain pass between Stowe and Jeffersonville VT
The most beautiful rides in Vermont
It was Friday the third week of June almost 4pm I parked my car next to the island bagel shop. I put my bike gear on and proceeded to remove my bike from the trunk rack preparing for the ride. This was my very first road bike which I purchased the previous Sunday just for this three day weekend trip. The road to get to the island from the so called mainland traveled over a very narrow causeway and small bridge. Later I would learn the name was the Sand Bar and a state park, with a beach, of the same name was located on the right at the start of the causeway. I recall very clearly that first drive , and every one since, as I stopped at the halfway point in a small parking area got out of the car and stood in amazement at the water on both sides and the mountain range south of me which appeared to go on forever. The blue water reflecting the sky’s brilliance had ripples with sun sparkling off them as far as I could see. I stood there mesmerized in the moment, I’m not sure how long, and snapped picture after picture, but as usual about a photo, was unable to gather the overall beauty before me.
Having checked out the new bike, air pressure with a quick squeeze of my thumb and forefinger, loaded up my water bottles I was ready to get underway for my first ride on South Hero Island. Having previously planned the route I headed west on a fairly main road which lead to a ferry which traveled back and forth to New York State. The road went by a variety of homes and also farms with grazing cows. As the ferry landing came into view I could see I was on West Shore Road proceeding north with the lake and mountains west on my left. There was a small incline leaving the landing as I continued with the view alternating between the lake, small and large houses and one absolutely beautiful inn which sat a touch higher off the water and overlooked the ferry. The ride continued with the same incredible views until I reached a dirt road directly ahead as the main road bent right to head across the island. Even though the lake view has disappeared the beauty still existed with fields, farms and the typical quintessential Vermont landscape.
My mood had changed from excitement, at the causeway, to being calm, peaceful and safe.
A few miles more I took a left on the main road, which ran through the islands, and then the top of a small hill where I could see a drawbridge leading to North Hero. A Marina was on the right with a variety of boats, sail and motor, small and large. To the left of the bridge the water was surrounded in a circle ,half by land and the other half by a narrow path of trees similar to the causeway but much more striking. It appeared there was very little land under these trees, as if there were just floating on the water. About midpoint in the path there was a very small opening connecting the main body of the lake. At this point I turned right on East Shore Road heading south and quickly hit a short descent which lead me directly towards the water at a good speed. I didn’t have to pedal at all, just enjoy the view which was possibly more beautiful than the opposite side of the island. As I continued past each bay more gorgeous than the next, there were lovely homes beautifully landscaped and also farms with fenced in cows and horses. About the third bay I recognized Mt Mansfield to my left in the background which stood out proudly. At this time, 15 miles into my ride, I stopped and got off the bike for a short break with the lake and Mansfield on my left and a beautiful white house with a red barn all by itself which stood out like a picture hanging on a mantle. What started out as a short break turned longer and longer as I remembered back when I was very young and would come to visit my aunts and uncles in Vermont and the feeling which came over me at the time. My cousins and I would be playing outside on the green grass and the sunshine while inside stories were being told with laughter as the meals were being prepared. As I stood there holding my bike looking at the farm house on my right with the lake and mountains on my left I realized, after all these years, I had finally come home. I got back in the saddle continuing to ride past more and more gorgeous bays with beautiful countryside. At just about 20 miles, I arrived back at the bagel shop took off my gear and hung the bike back on the rack.
Since that first day I continued to return again and again each summer to ride a new route and discover more beauty of the islands.
Now I live on the island from May to October and still ride the same route, see the same beauty of the countryside, lake and mountains and still get the same feeling of being home.