Quiet Trails, Secret Campsites

After spending a collective 14 months of our lives cycling and camping through some of the most remote regions of the planet, my wife Emily and I have grown to love bicycle camping. We enjoy it more than any other form of travel. And if you like to eat, there’s no better way to work up a tremendous appetite than to pedal a bike loaded with everything needed comfortably to camp, cook, and stay dry. Ultimately, combining the hard-earned mobility of cycling with the freedom and simplicity of camping makes for nearly non-stop adventure, and you will sleep like a baby, no matter where we are.

With Vermont’s bounty of trails and back roads, refreshing lakes, friendly villages and scenic vistas, we are in the midst of a bicycle-camping paradise. While there are dozens of state parks that offer campsites to the passing cyclist, here are several areas of the state that are especially well suited for bicycle camping off the beaten path. Use these spots as a base for several days of cycling in the region, or treat them as stops on a multi-day tour. —Brian Mohr 

Moosalamoo’s Silver Lake

The Moosalamoo National Recreation Area is a gem in the heart the Green Mountains.The lake itself is quiet and pristine, surrounded by miles of hiking trails and wilderness land managed by the Green Mountain National Forest. There are fifteen primitive campsites on the east side of the lake, each featuring a picnic table and fire ring. The sites are accessible only by bicycle or foot, with the gravel Silver Lake Trail/Service Road offering the easiest access by bicycle. Fresh water needs to be carried in or filtered from the lake or streams. If you go with mountain bikes, don’t miss the beautiful and challenging Leicester Hollow-Chandler Ridge trail loop (approx 14 miles), which you can ride right from your lakeside camp on Silver Lake. www.moosalamoo.org

Green Mountain National Forest

In the southern half of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest, east of Bennington and Manchester, cyclists can explore dozens of miles of quiet and gently rolling dirt roads and logging roads. Cycling and wild camping (meaning set up a tent anywhere that’s not marked as closed), is permitted throughout most of the areas traversed by forest roads. Carry in what you carry out. The area north of Searsburg, along Forest Road 71 (to the Kelley Stand Rd), as well as Forest Road 341 (which continues north to Kendall Farm Road near Stratton), is a relatively quiet and a peaceful region of our state to pedal through and camp for a night or two. Moose sightings are common in this area, there are numerous streams and small ponds to keep you refreshed, and evidence of older farms and settlements. www.fs.usda.gov/main/greenmountain/home

Groton State Forest Trails

East of Montpelier, in the heart of Vermont’s lake country, Groton State Forest is dotted with multi-use trails and roads that connecting the many lakes and beautiful vistas. Primitive camping is allowed throughout the state forest, making this an ideal base for exploring, or as a stop on a longer tour. Follow a trail or road into a quiet area of the forest, push your bike at least 200’ away into the woods, set up your tent and take advantage of the easy access to solitude that bikes and camping provide. Several developed campsites are also options at most of the larger lakes here. The Cross Vermont Trail also passes through the Groton State Forest, following an old railroad bed. vtstateparks.com

Brian Mohr

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of Moretown own Ember Photography and publish AdventureSkier.com. They can be reached through their website, EmberPhoto.com.