- Bob LoCicero
Epic Kingdom Ride: Part 2 - North of Barre Into The Beyond
Estimated Mileage: 152 miles Estimated Time: 3 hours, 57 mins
This is part 2 of The Epic Kingdom Ride. For part 1, See Richmond to Barre The Long Way
There isn't a sign announcing the border to the Northeast Kingdom, but it is somewhere northeast of Barre. As you travel north on VT-14, then VT-15, then VT-16 there are fewer and fewer houses and the roadside changes to a rural landscape.
After passing the Hope Cemetery, follow VT-14 north to East Montpelier. In East Montpelier, you will come to a T-intersection: turn right and cross the singing bridge onto VT-14/US-2 and head north.
Follow VT-14 north for 16 miles. There is a nice twisty section just north of East Calais and another north of Woodbury. Moose crossing signs in a low-lying section north of Woodbury warn of serious danger. Moose beats motorcycle, every time!
VT-14 intersects with VT-15 in Hardwick center. Hardwick is a moderate size town with food, gas stations, and hardware and auto parts stores. The town is making a revival as center for local food, grown in a sustainable way. (For more on Hardwick, see this NYT article). VT-14 turns left; you should stay right and follow VT-15 (Wolcott Street), 2.5 miles east to VT-16. Take a left onto VT-16 north.
The pavement on VT-16 is smooth and fresh. A rare delight! After approximately 5-miles, you will pass through Greensboro Bend. According to one web source, the population of Greensboro Bend is zero, which is terrible news for the people who live there. There is a store in Greensboro that sells food and fuel (I didn't ask where they lived).
North of Greensboro, VT-16 has fast sweepers on great pavement. Have fun, but use care: there are no full-time fire and rescue crews or EMT's to come get you. A single bike crash here could easily go unnoticed.
When you pass VT-122, continue straight into Glover. We are going to backtrack to VT-122 after stopping at Currier's Market and the Wooden Spoon Deli for lunch.
Currier's Quality Market is a family owned and operated general store that sells supplies for hunting and fishing, hardware, groceries and just about everything else. The taxidermy displays include a full sized bull moose, coyotes and small game. The store is open seven days a week, Monday through Sunday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Wooden Spoon Bakery and Deli is inside Curriers market. They have deli meat sandwiches and fresh baked cookies -- almond poppy seed, peanut butter, triple threat and classic chocolate chip are a few choices - and Congo bars, scotcheroos, and 7-layer bars are some of their bars. I had a fantastic Italian sub sandwich for less than five dollars, which I ate on their covered front porch while I watched the traffic go by.
Across the street from Curriers is the Busy Bee Diner. The diner is a traditional diner, providing good home-style food since 1930. They have picnic tables outside and real ice cream at the window. The diner is only open until 1 p.m. on Sundays and 2 p.m. all other days, so get there early.
When you leave Glover, backtrack on VT-16 to VT-122. Turn left onto VT-122 and head southeast. You will pass the Bread and Puppet Circus on your left. The Bread and Puppet is a satirical political theater group that began in the 1960's. Their name derives from their practice of handing out fresh baked bread at their performances.
Continue down VT-122 for 15 miles. The road is quiet and unpopulated. When you reach Lyndonville and US-5, take a hard left onto US-5. US-5 is a small secondary road and does not look like a major route at this intersection. The first few miles are curvy, so have some fun!
Ride US-5, 7.3 miles to West Burke. In West Burke take VT-5A on your right and head north towards Lake Willoughby. Lake Willoughby is over 300 feet deep and is "the deepest lake entirely contained in the state" (this qualification eliminates Lake Champlain which is approximately 400 feet deep and shared with NY state; Willoughby is slightly deeper than Lake Memphremagog in Newport VT).
The lake is surrounded by the Willoughby State Forest and sits in a deep chasm formed by Mount Pisgah on one side and Mount Hor on the other. The two mountains give Willoughby its distinctive notched profile.
The lake has public beaches at both the north and south ends. The southern beach has a clothing optional section at the end farthest from the road.
Ride VT-5A north around the lake until you reach the intersection of VT-16. Take a left past the north end of the lake and ride VT-16 west 7 miles toward Barton. This is a great stretch of road with good twisty bits at the beginning and smooth pavement. Barton provides convenience stores and fuel.
In Barton, pickup US-5 again and head north toward Orleans. Ride 5 miles to the intersection of VT-58. Turn left onto VT-58 and ride west toward Irasburg. You will pass the Worlds Famous Bowling Ball Pyramid along this stretch of road.
VT-58 has large expansive views - for Vermont - giving it an western feel. The Lowell General Store in Lowell has food, fuel and rest rooms. Pick up VT-100 and ride 18 miles south towards Hyde Park.
Hyde Park has convenience stores and fuel. Take a right onto VT-15 west and ride 13.8 miles to Jeffersonville VT.
On VT-15 in Jeffersonville, you'll find The Family Table restaurant, serving good food at reasonable prices. The Cupboard Delicatessen and Bakery has great sandwiches, wraps and baked goods. You can also buy gas at the Cupboard or across the street at the Mobile station.
Take a left onto VT-108 in Jeffersonville and head south towards Smuggler's Notch. At the Mix Café and Bakery, turn right onto Upper Pleasant Valley Road.
Upper Pleasant Valley Road has stunning views of Mountain Mansfield. The rolling valley and foothills frame Mansfield's power above. Late day sun lights this side of the mountain in beautiful ways, so it is fitting to end our epic day here.
Follow Upper Pleasant Valley Road until it becomes Pleasant Valley Road. In Underhill Center, Pleasant Valley Road ends at the Underhill Store (food, supplies, no gas) and becomes River Road. Follow River Road to Route 15 and return home after another epic day of riding in Northern Vermont.