I recently spent a wonderful day on the West Coast.
No, I wasn’t in California or Washington or Oregon. Or even Florida.
I was right here in Vermont.
Yes, Vermont has a west coast, too. For those of you who are geographically challenged, Lake Champlain forms half of Vermont’s western border. At 490 square miles, Champlain is the largest mountain lake and the sixth largest fresh water lake in the US (thank you, Wikipedia). It’s even reputed to have its own monster: Champy, which seems to look very similar to the Loch Ness Monster, and is just as much of a mystery.
But I wasn’t there to search for Champy (though that would have been fun). Instead, my husband and I spent the day biking on the islands in the lake.
Yes, Lake Champlain has islands. Good size one like Isle La Motte (16.7 square miles), Grande Isle (35.1 square miles), and North Hero (couldn’t find the area), connected by a series of bridges and causeways.
Isle La Motte is home to Chazy Reef, a 480 million year old fossilized coral reef that’s believed to be the world’s oldest. It’s a National Historic Landmark, and since it’s now above water, you can see it without even getting your feet wet. Worth a stop to see
What I love about biking in the Lake Champlain area is that 1) it’s flat, a rarity here in Vermont, so I can bike without slogging up hills, and 2) the scenery is fantastic. You see these incredible mountains running down to the lake along with stunning water views.
Even though Vermont is a small state, it took me nearly 3 hours to get to our starting point. We usually make this trip just once a summer, but terrible flooding from rain and snow melt caused us to delay our trip. The floods cut Isle La Motte in two, and many of the roads in the area were underwater and covered with debris. So we waited until the water dropped below flood stage. I’m glad we did. We had a perfect day.
Our route took us from North Hero Island to Alberg, to Isle La Motte and back to North Hero. A total of 35 miles.
Some images from the day:
Here’s a view of the causeway leading to Isle La Motte:
It pays to be careful while you’re biking. Here’s some road damage from the flood.
Many roadways are still lined by makeshift rock walls created to hold back the flood water. I’m hoping they’ll be removed.
Here’s one of those triangular purple boxes you see everywhere this summer. If you’re wondering what they are, I looked it up. They’re traps for an invasive species, the emerald ash borer, which can kill the trees.
We met a friend along the way:
And saw lots of beautiful views:
At the end of the ride, a treat: brownies from the Vermont Brownie Company, a local bakery that makes the most amazing — yes, you guessed it — brownies. Yum! (This image is from their website; the brownie disappeared way too fast to be photographed.) A perfect way to wind up a perfect day.
Looks like it was a beautiful day! Living in coastal California I never realized Vermont shared such a big part of Lake Champlain…one of my dad’s favorites, he grew up in Buffalo NY. We have those triangular traps out here too, for the pests that hit citrus and other cash crops.