This 32-mile loop brings riders around the shore roads of South Hero and Grand Isle. It is a beautifully scenic ride that offers sweeping views of Lake Champlain and the surrounding mountains. While a bit on the longer side, the route is relatively flat so it isn’t a hard hill workout. All of the roads are in good condition and most are paved with the exception of a portion of East Shore Drive, Whipple and southern West Shore Road through South Hero. But even these are hard-packed dirt and easily traveled on a road bike (be aware of this part of the ride during mud season, however, as no dirt road in Vermont is immune from mud, ruts and jarring potholes).
What Makes It Great
The ride traces the outer edges of the island towns of South Hero and Grand Isle and provides some of the most spectacular views of Lake Champlain across to New York. Riders will get an up close and personal view of the lake as both shore roads are very narrow and twisting in some places and put the rider literally just feet away from the water. Along West Shore Road in South Hero riders will delight upon hundreds on brightly colored bird houses hanging around a march on the road's right side. They are tree swallow homes, and tree swallows eat mosquitoes, allowing residents to sit outside in their yards. And when the route heads a bit inland riders will still enjoy the landscape of rolling green farmland, sandy beaches, barns, cows, apple orchards and even a vineyard.
Park your car at the Sand Bar State Park in Milton and head down Route 2 towards the island of South Hero. At just under two miles, take a left onto Landon followed by another left onto East Shore. Follow East Shore almost to the end and take a right onto Whipple. Follow Whipple to the South Street intersection and cross over to West Shore Drive. Follow West Shore up about 9.5 miles through South Hero and into Grand Isle and take a right onto Moccasin. Follow Moccasin straight across the Reynolds intersection at which point Moccasin turns into Griswold. Follow Griswold across Route 2 onto Faywood, which turns into East Shore. Follow East Shore back down to Route 2 and take a left for a short ride on Route 2 before turning left back onto East Shore. East Shore turns into Townline, which will bring riders back to Route 2. Take a left on Route 2 and follow back to the car.
The Island Loop is very easy for riders to adjust mileage-wise to fit their riding needs. The 31.5 can be shortened into 20 by taking a right off of West Shore onto Bell Hill and turning onto Pearl and back to Route 2. Likewise, riders can lengthen the route by taking the Island Rail Trail to the Allen Park Access Point. Follow the Island Rail Trail to the end and take a left at Martin and another left at South. West Shore is on the left less than a mile from the end of Island Trail. This ride can add anywhere from three to 28 or so miles onto the ride depending on where riders hop onto the Island Rail Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Riders looking for a beautiful cruising ride that is relatively flat with no major hill challenges. This route is fun to drive much less ride and being on a bike makes the scenery that much more powerful. For riders in search of panoramic views of Lake Champlain, this is a must do.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park at the Sand Bar State Park on Route 2 before heading over to South Hero. It is free and open all hours. There is also a pull-out a little ways down Route 2 after passing Sandbar State Park for parking.