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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Ferry Crossing New York to Vermont - Biking Burlington

Ferry entering Port Kent, NY 
When you spend four days in northern New York, you have some time to cross state lines and explore beyond the Empire State.  Up in Ausable Chasm, you can do this quite easily (and affordably) in neighboring Port Kent.  You can leave New York behind and take an hour cruise across Lake Champlain over to Burlington, Vermont.  One scenic boat ride is all it takes and you can swap quiet Ausable for bustling Burlington, home to amazing breweries, great food, and amazing bike paths.

Ferry Crossing from Port Kent, New York to Burlington, Vermont 

The ferry departs Burlington Vermont for Port Kent New York five times a day starting at 9:30 am with the last ferry out at 5:30.  The ferry arrives in New York starting at 10:50 am and the last ferry out being 6:35.  To spend as much time as possible in Burlington, we planned to take the 10:50 ferry over and the 5:30 ferry back, giving up about 5.5 hours (including the one hour crossing) to explore Burlington via bike.  If you prefer to take your car, that is also an option and reservations are not accepted.   

The fares are reasonable at $8 a person, $9 a bike and person, and $30 a car and a person (one way).   The ferry crossing was smooth and food and beverages were served on board.  We spent the one hour cruising on the deck, enjoying the day and chatting with a family making their way over to Burlington for the day.  Get all the information you need about the ferry, including the schedule, here.

Waiting at the Port Kent, NY ferry terminal
View of Lake Champlain

Car Ferry - Burlington 

GoPro view from the ferry 
Once you get to Burlington, there is plenty (and I mean plenty) to do. We had plans to bring our bikes and see the town on two wheels so I did my KW research on local bike routes. Burlington made it easy for me and within 15 minutes I found this great guide from the local bike shop Local Motion. Their guide included a 10-mile bike loop that takes you around historical parts of Burlington, Vermont.

Cycle the City / Local Motion Bike Routes around the city 

Bike Trail - Burlington, VT

Pedaling along the bike path
 This 10 mile loop starts on the Island Line Trail, an impressive and active recreation path open to bikers, walkers, and runners.  As you head north away from the port, you have gorgeous views of Lake Champlain to your left while also enjoying a safe space to ride your bike away from the city traffic.  After cruising for a bit on the bike path, you will take a right onto Leddy Park and hop on the road for a quick minute before biking through the scenic paved trails in Ethan Allen Park.  As you make your way along the path with a few hills, you will see a sign for the tower inside the park.    We parked out bikes and made the five minute hike to see what the tower was all about.

Bike path along Lake Champlain

Ethan Allen Tower

View from the Ethan Allen Tower 

The tower was erected in 1905 by the Sons of the American Revolution as a memorial to Ethan Allen, a local farmer and founder of the Green Mountain Boys.   The tower is open to the public and you can climb the tower stairs (no charge) for a birds eye view of Vermont and Lake Champlain. On a clear sunny July day, we could see Lake Champlain and the valley below.  After this quick detour, we were back on our bikes, leaving Ethan Allen Park to continue our 10-mile tour of Burlington.  From here, you can choose the paved route (another bikeway, Beltline Path) or the off-road route on the Intervale trail.  Because I was with my parents on their 5 speed cruisers, we stuck to the paved trails and followed the paved bikeway back south, by the Ethan Allen Homestead and and back towards the local University. 

Following the bikeway back to the downtown area 

After biking past the idyllic University of Vermont campus (UVM), you will eventually make your way back to the city center where you have a lot of great options for lunch after a great ride.  After reaching out for recommendations, we decided on the outdoor seating area at Sweetwaters American Bistro where we indulged in amazing local beer and food.  We started with the poutine (you are almost in Canada after all) before enjoying our selected entrees of seared tuna, fish and chips, and a burger.  We loved the local beer selection and enjoyed the great food, better beer, and sunny streets of Burlington. 

Lunch at Sweetwaters 

Stopping to play the community pianos after lunch

After lunch, I broke off from the group to ride my bike down to well known and loved Citizen Cider to stock up on this local beverage and see what the cidery was all about.  We all agreed Burlington was a beautiful clean city, chock full of interesting history, great food, top notch craft beer, and some of the best bike paths we had seen.  We enjoyed seeing the city on two tires, and only regretting not having more time (and energy) to see more of the city, eat more of its food, and visit all of its breweries.  Check back in later in the week as I share my experience at Citizen Cider in Burlington Vermont. 

Citizen Cider - Burlington, VT 

Happy Biking, 

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