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trip report: Vermont – Colchester Causeway, October 11 2020

Our final hike of the trip was into the middle of Lake Champlain on a converted railroad bed known as the Colchester Causeway. Rather than climbing up a mountain, we had a view of them from the causeway as it crosses Mallets Bay. The change of pace, or rather elevation profile, was a welcome end to our couple weeks of working remote and visiting friends. Thanks to Jared and Domino hanging out and showing us around.

This is part 5 of 5 of our trip out to New York and Vermont. In this part, we cover our causal walk on the Colchester Causeway and wrap up our trip with our budget. You can find the rest of the series in the index below.


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1 working remote & travel logistics
2 trip report New York – Cat Mountain
3 trip report New York – Hurricane Mountain
4 trip report New York – Owls Head Mountain
5 trip report Vermont – Mount Mansfield
6 trip report Vermont – Colchester Causeway
      5.1 hike information
      5.2 video
      5.3 report
      5.4 impressions
7 trip budget

hike information 

To complete the hike all the way to South Hero, you need to take the Local Motion ferry that operates everyday in the summer and on a limited schedule in the late spring and fall (Local Motion). There is no cost to ride the ferry, but a $10 donation is recommended by the website for a round trip. 

The trail is a multi-use trail with plenty of bikers, so be mindful of the traffic. It is part of the Lake Champlain Bikeway (Local Motion).

The We parked at Airport Park, where there is plenty of parking (google map directions). However, there is a smaller official parking lot for the Causeway about a mile closer (google map directions). 

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hike video

Below is a snippet of the hike as a companion to go with this report as part of a longer video covering our entire time in Vermont. If you enjoy our videos, please follow us on our Youtube page

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hike report

For our final hike on the trip, we thought it would be nice to see Lake Champlain for a change of pace. Jared had the perfect selection in a stroll on the Colchester Causeway. We started a little further from the official parking lot since it Sunday with nice weather, meaning the closer parking lot may be full by the time we arrived just before 10am. Instead we parked at the spacious Airport Park. Our first mile following along the road before cutting away on a wide gravel trail lined with trees in the process of changing colors. 

After passing the official parking lot, crossing the road, and through a last stretch of forest, we came to the edge of Lake Champlain. 

Today, the causeway was indeed very busy with bikers and walkers. So being aware of your surroundings is needed so you don’t run into others visiting causeway. More than a century ago in 1899, the causeway was just completed as a railroad track to connect Colchester Point to Allen’s Point in South Hero as part of the Rutland Island Line connecting Burlington to Alburgh and eventually to Montreal. Rail ran until the 1960s before until the state acquired the failing line. You can read a brief history of the rail via the Burlington Free Press.

As we continued on, we saw the Adirondack Mountains across the lake in the distance while passing a couple small islands immediately closer to us. The biggest island being Law Island with the smaller Sunset Island a little further away. With the low water, it looked like we could have made it over there by foot. 

We came to the first opening along the causeway short after and crossed the bridge that now crosses the gap.

Bird watching is a popular activity along the causeway and we saw a Cormorant chilling on a rock by the causeway (wikipedia). 

The construction of the causeway was made of large marble rocks and may provide some scrambling fun for young kids. It was among these rocks that we found a USGS marker.

As we continued further along, we had a nice view to our right back toward Colchester and Mount Mansfield that we hiked up the day before. 

Our turnaround point was at the Cut, where a draw bridge use to be. Today there is a seasonal ferry operated by Local Motion

From our side of the Cut, we could see the short distance of trail left before South Hero. 

We were happy with our walk so we turned around and retraced our steps back to the car.

We concluded our trip hanging out with Jared in his backyard in front of a campfire with plenty of drinks and good eats. Thanks Jared for being our guide once again.

The following day, we worked remotely once again and had a late check out via my Diamond status with Hilton hotels. We made the long, mostly uneventful drive home once we checked out. The only downside was the thunderstorm in the wee hours of the morning near our home.

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hike impressions


The rating below are based on an unevenly distributed scale of 1-5. For full description of the ratings and the categories, see the explanation here.

Arial view of the Colchester Causeway (Shirley Chevalier/Local Motion)

views/experience: 2. The highlight of the walk was being in the middle of Lake Champlain with the Adirondack Mountains in the distance on one side and Mt. Mansfield on the other. While the view doesn’t change much, it provided for a nice experience to see the lake.  

difficulty: 1. The trail is well cared for and flat.

technical: 1. The trail is flat and there is only one way to go.

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trip budget

The highest cost of our trip was by far the food and drinks and we didn’t really try to spare any expense in that regards. It would have been more if it wasn’t during the pandemic preventing us from eat out more than a couple times. 

The biggest savings in costs was using my stash of Hilton Points for our housing costs and staying with Mat and Vru.

Overall, the final costs weren’t that much greater than if we were living at home. That extra amount was well worth finally seeing friends after several month of isolation.

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