• Bob LoCicero

Guide to The Northeast Backcountry Discover Route Section 5 NEBDR

Updated: Aug 4


A scenic barn on section 5 of the NEBDR, Chelsea VT

This is part-2 of Motorcycle-Vermont’s guide to the Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route - Vermont (NEBDR). This is a living document that will be updated regularly as we ride the trail, so continue to check for updates. It is also a good idea to read our guide to riding class-4 roads in Vermont for general information about class-4 roads.

Section NE5 Barnard to Woodsville, NH features single-lane dirt roads, gravel forest service roads, challenging class-4 off-road sections and some great pavement. You’ll pass the Robert Frost cabins, and ride the Middlebury, Lincoln and Roxbury gaps, and travel some remote roads.

The section begins at the Barnard General Store. The store has a great deli, delectable baked goods, and gas for your bike. Silver Lake State Park is across from the store. The park has camping at tent and lean-to sites and coin-operated showers. If you choose to stay there, you can swim in their beautiful lake.

Hunger Mountain Road


Hunger Mountain Road, Barnard, VT

Hunger Mountain Road runs from Barnard (southern end) to VT-107 in Stockbridge (Northern end).

When traveling from the Barnard General Store ride north on VT-12. Ride .4 miles and bear left onto West Rd (TH-5). Ride 1.1 miles to a 4-way intersection. Turn right onto Chateauguay Rd. Ride .4 mile and then bear left onto Mt Hunger Rd (a.k.a. (Old Hunger Mtn Rd).

You'll enter the woods just past the last house on a gravel road. There is a sign indicating that you're on a class-4 road and maintenance is no longer the town's responsibility.

When traveling north to south, navigation is a bit of a challenge. Finding the beginning of the class-4 section can be confusing. After leaving VT-107, head steeply up a short gravel section. The road turns sharply right and then heads up a steep hill. When you come to a 3-way fork (good looking road on the left, little-used road in the middle, and even less used road on the right) take the middle road.

Hunger Mountain Road, class 4 section north entrance

The road is not overly technical, despite it's unimproved or primitive surface rating on town maps. For the most part, the road is two-track dirt, with a few ledge rolls. During wet seasons you may find mud holes, but for the most part, these should be short and shouldn't be much of a problem.

You'll find the road is somewhat easier to traverse from south to north, because you will be traveling predominately downhill.

Riding north to south is slightly more difficult because you are running uphill, but it is not overly technical. Wet weather would, of course, make things more challenging.

Hunger Mountain Road to Liberty Hill Rd

After Hunger Mountain Road, the NEBDR heads north on predominately gravel roads. You’ll have some spectacular views in the Stockbridge area as the route twists and turns specifically to get you great views.

Although the official NEBDR route doesn’t include Pittsfield, there is gas, food, and hardware available there, only a few miles south the route. You can also find several lodging options there.

Pittsfield was one of 13 towns isolated during Tropical Storm Irene. The town was cut off when VT-100 was ripped apart just north and just south of the town, making it impossible enter or leave via a car. I was trapped in the town during Irene and found it a pleasant place to be marooned for a couple of days. There is an Inn there that has nice accommodations.

After a few days, it became apparent that the VT-100 would not be open any time soon. Since I was prepared with my backpacking gear, I drove to the end of Michigan Road and hiked north to meet my wife on VT-73, leaving my trusty Corrolla behind. It was just over a month before I could return and retrieve my car.

Liberty Hill Road

Liberty Hill Road in Pittsfield is a short class 4 at 1.24 miles long and is favorite on my mid-state dual-sport loop.

Riding from the south, you’ll leave the pavement of VT-100 and turn onto a nice gravel road. As you head uphill, the surface stays gravel well past the intersection with Forsha Rd.

As you pass the last house, the road turns to dirt and has some rutted sections. After about 3/4 of a mile, the road heads downhill and becomes rocky. If you pick your line carefully, you’ll have no problem navigating this section.

When traveling south, you’ll leave the tarmac of VT-100 and travel up a gravel road. The class-4 section begins by climbing the rocky section, making it somewhat more difficult traveling from north to south.

My preference is to ride the road from south to north, as it is somewhat easier to ride and you will be rewarded with a spectacular view to the southeast when you emerge from the woods.

Liberty Hill Road to Green Road

This section includes the longest stretch of pavement in the NE5 section. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of challenge left before you reach Woodsville at the NH border!

The town of Rochester is another good stop for fuel and food. There is a well stocked hardware store, a small grocery store, and a beautiful town green with park benches and picnic tables, right on Route 100. The Rochester Cafe and Country Store has Vermont memorabilia, real milkshakes and classic sandwiches. Sandy’s Books and Bakery is a “hippie” bakery and bookstore where you can fill your belly with great food and your mind with big ideas (just make sure you have room in your saddlebags for an actual book).

North of Rochester you hit Hancock, where you’ll find fuel at the intersection of VT-100 and VT-125.

VT-125 is a great piece of pavement, with a smooth surface, twists, and views. You’ll pass by the Robert Frost interpretive trail, just before coming to forest road 59, Steam Mill Rd.

The Natural Turnpike


Natural Turnpike, Forest Service Road 54

The Natural Turnpike (forest road 54) is, without doubt, the coolest name ever for a dirt road through the woods. The road was a stagecoach route in the early 1900s connecting Lincoln with Ripton.

The Natural Turnpike is, like most forest service roads in Vermont, in excellent condition. It is more like a class-3 gravel road in terms of surface. The road does have two-way vehicle traffic and is used regularly by hikers to reach trailheads, so ride right and expect cars in the middle of the road.

The road is open seasonally, which means it’s usually closed until early to mid-May each year. You can check this Forest Service page for the status of the road.

If you look carefully, you can find free dispersed camping alongside the road.

After completing the Natural Turnpike, follow the track through Lincoln and enjoy the scenic views. You’ll see the backside of the Sugarbush ski area and have beautiful views throughout Lincoln.

Green Road


The entrance to the class-4 section on Green Rd, Lincoln VT

Green road is a mile long class-4 section with a moderate amount of challenge when climbing from south to north, you’ll gain 284 feet in about a mile. When dry, your biggest challenge will be picking a good line.

When wet, Green Rd can become a slippery, mud fest as you near the top of the climb. I’ve seen carnage on this road on a wet, early spring dual-sport ride, which made the climb muddy, slippery and rutted. In most years, though, this shouldn’t be an issue.


Ruts on Green Rd during a drought

The south entrance doesn’t always have a road sign. Look for the large orange triangle sign announcing that the road is a class-4 road, on your left, shortly after turning onto Ripton Rd. The road is a gravel two-track and looks like a driveway.

If you miss the turn for Green Rd and continue straight, you’ll be on the NE5 ALT - Easier Green Road track. Continue straight to Browns Road, where you’ll take a right to continue on the main BDR track.

The north entrance is off of the mild, gravel, class-3 Green Rd. When traveling south, the entrance to the class-4 section is straight ahead and easy to find. You’ll be traveling downhill on the most difficult section.

After Green Rd, the NEBDR snakes around Lincoln and then descends to Lincoln center, where you’ll find the Lincoln General store (food, deli, no gas).

The route continues with the Lincoln Gap road.

The Lincoln Gap Road


Lincoln Gap Rd, Lincoln VT

The road climbs steadily as you approach the gap and turns to dirt. Shortly after turning to dirt, you’ll pass a Forest Service Road on your right. The forest service road doesn’t connect anything, but it can make for an uncrowded side trip. The road is of good quality and is similar to a class 3 dirt road.

After the dirt section, the road returns to pavement and climbs very steeply, with grades as steep as 24% at points.

The gap itself does not offer a view, but you can get a western view if you're willing to take a short walk. The Lincoln Gap West Vista trail is just west of the peak. When traveling east, look for a pull-off on your left. The trail is a short hike to the vista.

At the peak of the gap there is a large parking lot. Here the Long Trail crosses and it is usually busy with hikers and cars.

The ride down to Warren is narrow and twisty. The road is shaded by trees

Sign on Lincoln Gap Road, Warren VT

and the surface can stay wet long after rain. The pavement can get moss-covered making it extra slippery.

Lincoln Gap road ends on VT-100 in Warren. The Warren Store is across VT-100 and through a covered bridge. The store is a good spot for lunch with baked goods and deli sandwiches, and they have a beautiful deck overlooking the Mad River, making it a great rest stop.


Roxbury Gap

The BDR heads east out of Warren on paved roads. You'll have views of the Sugarbush ski area to your left as your turn onto Roxbury Gap road.


Roxbury Gap climbs approximately 1,000 feet in about 2 miles. There are 25 mph hairpins and steep climbs on a paved surface.


At the top of the gap the road turns to gravel and descends the Roxbury side with easterly views.

Roxbury Gap to VT-110

After Roxbury Gap, the NEBDR snakes its way through Roxbury, Braintree, and Brookfield on narrow dirt roads and class-3 gravel roads. There are views of the Greens to the southeast, rows of old maple trees, lining dirt roads past colonial-era homes and barns.

The first burial in the Roxbury First Settler Cemetery was in 1813. Roxbury VT

Approximately 15 miles after crossing VT-12, the NEBDR descends down the narrow dirt Davis Acre road. At the bottom of the hill, Cram Hill road continues on straight north, while the BDR takes a hard right turn and heads uphill. It is easy to mistake Cram Hill Rd as the route (it isn’t).

While not on the BDR, Cram Hill Rd offers some fun exploring

If you need a break, you may want to venture up Cram Hill Rd for a short bit, as the road is easy (at least at the start) and winds along a pretty stream. There are plenty of places to sit and rest while taking in some nature before continuing on.

The next tricky intersection is at Lamsom Pond Rd. Traveling “north” (you’re actually headed south/east at this point) Lamsom Pond Rd is a narrow, dirt road that will be on your right.

Lamsom Pond Rd is a class-4 road, but is non-technical and passable on a street bike. It’s class-4 designation is due to being only a single lane wide. The road is open to two-way traffic, so caution is needed.

Shortly after Lamsom Pond Rd, the NEBDR becomes VT-66. VT-66 descends to the floating bridge in Brookfield VT. After crossing the bridge, the route takes a left and then bears right uphill on Ralph Rd, a narrow dirt road.

After crossing VT-14 (pavement) the route takes a right onto Taylor Hill Drive, an easy class-4 dirt road.

The route continues on a series of dirt and gravel roads with frequent turns. Watch your track carefully.

Just before you come to VT-100, the route takes a left on a short class-4 section (rocks, some mud). You can continue straight on Bobbinshop Road to pass a cool barn with a lot of automotive memorabilia. Continuing straight leads to VT-100. Turn left to stay on the NEBDR.

Pepper Rd/Clay Slide Road


Pepper Rd

After crossing VT-110 in Chelsea, the NEBDR climbs to the height of land and rides along a ridge on Pepper Rd. Pepper Road is a pleasant, narrow, gravel and dirt, two-track lined with old maple trees.

Pepper Road descends to a large turnaround area. Pepper Road continues straight, up a steep, muddy, rutted hill. Do not mistake this for the BDR (like I did). The BDR takes a hard left onto Clay Slide Road, which you might not see until you’re past it.

Pepper Rd continues straight up this muddy, rutted hill.

Clay Slide Road is a flat, short (.71 mile), muddy road that I suspect was included in the BDR to enable riders to link the scenic Pepper Road with Hart Hollow Rd or to provide some challenge. While this section is fine in dry weather, in wet seasons less experienced riders on a fully loaded bike may want to skip this road.

Riders heading south on the NEBDR should be aware that the entrance to Clay Slide Road is hard to see. Keep your eyes open for the sharp right-hand turn off of the gravel Hart Hollow Road. If you miss the turn, you can use the by-pass route (NE5 ALT - Easier Pepper Rd) to continue south on the BDR.

North entrance to Clay Slide Rd.

Washington/Woodchuck Hollow Rd


Woodchuck Hollow Rd, Washington, VT

After emerging from the woods onto Hart Hollow Road, the NEBDR rides gravel roads into Washington. There is a store with basic supplies and gas in Washington.

From Washington, the NEBDR travels a series of smaller class-3 and class-4 roads, starting with Woodchuck Hollow Road.

Technically, Woodchuck Hollow Road is as class-3 road that is “below standard”. Despite the road’s classification, it is functionally a class-4 road. There are open ledges and rocky sections that will test your skid plate, especially if you choose your line poorly.


Rocky section on Woodchuck Hollow Rd

The start of the class-4 section of Woodchuck Hollow Rd begins in an open turn-around. Take the left fork, uphill on a gravel/dirt two-track.

Woodchuck Hollow climbs and descends several times on a dirt and rock surface. The class-4 section is approximately 2 miles long.

Corinth/Maplewood Road


Maplewood Rd, Corinth VT

The start of Maplewood Road is easily missed (I did). Look for a hard right turn, past the Corinth Historical Society building.

Maplewood Road is a narrow dirt road that runs past a series of camps. The road isn’t overly technical but is a narrow, dirt road with two-way traffic.

Approximately 1.4 miles from the Historical Society building, the NEBDR reaches an intersection where it appears to go straight; the route takes a left and heads uphill. Another tricky intersection is at the 3-mile mark, when Maplewood Road continues to the left and the NEBDR heads down a smaller, rockier route. See the waypoints in this GPX file.

Corinth

The NEBDR emerges from the Maplewood Road section onto the pavement. Watch carefully for the left turn in Corinth center at the Corinth Academy building (Corinth Historical Society). If you find yourself comfortably tooling down a paved road, you have probably gone too far.


Corinth Academy, Corinth VT

The NEBDR takes a left at the Corinth Academy build and, after a short distance, takes a hard left-hand turn uphill onto a narrow class-4 road (Coppermine Road). This turn is very easy to miss, as it is behind you!

Coppermine Road twists through the woods on a fun, class-4 dirt track. Watch for low hanging branches!

After Coppermine Road, the NEBDR travels some gravel down to the paved VT-25. The East Corinth General Store (gas; deli; supplies) is at the intersection of VT-25 and Village Rd.

Tucker Mtn/Comigan Rd

The NE5 Alt - Easier Tucker Mtn track cuts out the most difficult climb of the NE5 section and a significant mud pit. If you’re running late, have poor tires, a heavy bike, or just aren’t that skilled (or maybe all three of these!) you'll probably want to take the go-around.

Southern entrance to Page Hill class-4 section

The next class-4 section is on Page Hill Road. The road is marked on the southern end with a sign indicating that there is no winter maintenance. The class-4 section is short and unremarkable.

After Page Hill the route takes gravel roads to Old Stagecoach Road. Old Stagecoach Road is a two-lane dirt road that is heavily rutted. At the end of Old Stagecoach, the NEBDR makes a left onto Comigan Road.

Mud pit on Comigan Rd during a dry year.

There is a large mud pit at the southern end of Comigan road. While the pit is fairly short, it is pretty deep and not easily avoided. A solo rider on a heavy bike with 50/50 tires may find the mud a significant challenge.

North entrance to Comigan Road

When traveling from north to south, look for the Comigan Road turn just before a culvert (see photo). This turn is easy to miss.

The Tucker Mountain hill climb is perhaps the most technical riding of section NE5. Throughout the Tucker Mountain Forest area, there are water bars lined with rocks. Proceed with caution as these water bars can be very rough. I never did find the right speed and found they slowed me down, just when I need speed for climbing. There is a rocky hill climb in this section which may be challenging for some riders.

After the Tucker Mountain hill climb, you will descend to a kiosk. The NEBDR proceeds straight, into the woods. To left is a short sandy hill climb to the summit of Tucker Mountain, where you can get a full 360-degree view.

End NE5 Section

The NEBDR leaves the Tucker Mountain Forest and proceeds on a series of gravel roads until it reaches US-302. You follow US-302 as it crosses the Connecticut River, on an iron bridge, into NH and the end of the Vermont section of the NEBDR.


Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route Video

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Related


The Delorme Gazetteers are detailed maps that supplement the Offical Butler BDR map and GPX routes. Read our review of the New Hampshire/Vermont Atlas & Gazetteer