A favorite of northern Vermont cyclists, this 65-mile loop starts with short punchy climbs before amping up to the long climb up Smugglers' Notch (named for its popularity with those who brought goods down from Canada during America's early conflicts). Start from Richmond proper (or the intersection of VT 117 and US 2, closer to Burlington), and ride north on along the Winooski River to begin the first stretch of climbing on Barber Farm Road. From here, the route undulates on country roads for 20 miles until Jeffersonville, the base of the 7-mile, 1,600-foot climb up to Smugglers' Notch.
After passing the Smugglers' Notch Ski Area, the grade ticks up to a significant (but doable) pitch, passing roadside waterfalls on the way up to a summit in the shadow of Mount Mansfield. Near the top, impressive cliffs rise from the road as the route snakes up through large boulder passes. Take a break at a summit rest area before navigating tight and steep switchbacks near the top of the descent. The road soon straightens out to a fast and manageable descent into the picturesque ski town of Stowe. The downhill bottoms out at Waterbury before the route traces the Winooski River back to Richmond to close the clockwise loop.
Note: Riding counter-clockwise offers a significantly longer climb which tackles the steep southern-face switchbacks in their more difficult direction. This route is closed in winter (usually November through May).
Location: 44.555318, -72.795818
Take it slow on the steep switchbacks on the way down. The cars are easily spooked by the exposure (and cyclists).
View Entering Stowe
Location: 44.515252, -72.767923
Passing the ski area the view is beautiful, but there's plenty more fast descending ahead.
Covered Bridge / Stowe Rec Path
Location: 44.497133, -72.745414
The Stowe recreation path is accessible on the other side of this covered bridge. It gets pretty crowded at times, but it is is well worth riding with its beautiful views. The path is paved and features a number of dedicated bridges as it winds back and forth over the brook. The path crosses Rte. 100 farther down and ends in the center of Stowe village. Not a detour to take if you are in a hurry, though!
Topnotch at Stowe
Location: 44.494462, -72.741702
Topnotch at Stowe does bike rentals out of this restored monitor barn. The Stowe recreation path follows the river behind and is well worth checking out, if you have the time.
Location: 44.471046, -72.726917
Stowe is a mecca for classic car buffs and many people who live here own vintage autos. They don't get more unusual than this 1930s Morgan 3-wheeler, though.
Location: 44.469439, -72.727304
View across the Waterbury River valley from the west side of Stowe.
Location: 44.445469, -72.729020
The Waterbury River winds alongside Moscow Rd.
Classic Vermont Farmhouse
Location: 44.429543, -72.715545
The farm is gone, but this Federal style house remains as a reminder of mid-nineteenth century architecture. Vermont is rich in this style. Note the cupola on the doghouse!
Chittenden Cider Mill
Location: 44.381554, -72.719879
A great place to stop for some free cider and a well-earned donut. Restrooms are available for customers here.
Waterbury Convenience Store
Location: 44.341791, -72.760048
A refuel option at the end of the long descent from the Notch.
Rock Cut near Bolton Falls
Location: 44.361967, -72.805098
Rte 2 and the interstate are right next to each other after you climb through this rock cut, but this is offset by the impressive cliffs and views of Camels Hump that you see once you top the rise.
Bolton Valley Road
Location: 44.373318, -72.878687
If you want a real challenge, take this out-and-back climbing detour road up to the ski area (1,600 feet above).
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