- Bob LoCicero
Guide to The Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route Section 4 NEBDR
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
The Vermont section of the Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route (NEBDR) is a great sampler of Vermont adventure riding. From twisty tarmac to challenging off-road sections, the Vermont sections of the NEBDR (NE3, NE4, and NE5) have it all.
The Vermont section of the NEBDR begins at the end of section NE3 when you cross the Vermont-Mass boarder. There is a cool sign at the state line that is selfie-worthy, even for those of us who abhor selfies.
Immediately following the state line, you’ll encounter your first class-4 section on Smith Rd.
Smith Rd is easy to find -- simply ride straight ahead at the end of West Hill Dr. The road is rocky and narrow and has a few muddy, boulder sections. The road is used as an ATV trail so be ready for traffic coming from the other direction.
At just under a mile in length, Smith Rd is a good indicator of your ability to ride other class-4 sections. If you cannot ride Smith Rd, you may want to rethink taking on other challenging sections.
At the end of Smith Rd you’ll pop-out onto a class 3 dirt road. Keep your eyes peeled for the turn onto your second class-4 road,Tooksberry Rd, as it comes up quickly and the turn is behind you, to your left, as you round a corner.
Tooksberry Road ups the ante on challenge, as it is rockier than Smith Rd and includes a loose hill climb after a right-angle, right turn shortly after starting the road. This right-hand turn could easily be missed since there is another nice looking road straight ahead.
Like Smith Rd, Tooksberry Road is shared with ATV’s and is not really wide enough for you both to charge ahead at full speed. You’ll need to ride aggressively to make the hill climbs -- just make sure you have a clear path when you do so.
Tooksberry Road ends abruptly, dumping you out on a class-3 dirt road. Watch for traffic coming from your left as you enter the roadway and for ATV traffic turning off the class 3 road onto Tooksberry Rd.
If you are riding North-to-South, the turn onto the north end of Tooksberry Rd is easy to miss: look for the ATV trail sign pointing to the road.
Follow the NEBDR through Readsboro until you reach the Readsboro General Store and the end of section NE3. The store is the start of NE4.
If you have a small gas tank you’ll want to fill up at the Readsboro store, since it is approximately 105 miles until the next gas on the route.
North of Readsboro, you ride VT-8, which is a tasty twisty-bit of tarmac.
In Searsburg, take a hard left turn onto Forest Service Road 71 (aka Somerset Rd) -- the first of several awesome Forest Service Roads you’ll ride in Vermont
FR71 heads due north, winding along the Deerfield River as you ride through the Green Mountain National Forest on a well-graded forest road. You’ve got to love this road thru a canopy of trees!
At the end of FR71, you turn right onto the Stratton-Arlington Road. The route becomes a series of small dirt/gravel backroads and some moderate length pavement sections until at mile 62 when you reach your first class-4 section of NE4, Joy Rd.
Joy Road looks like someone’s driveway at its southern end, where the road is a simple two-track with grass in the middle. The road becomes narrower as it climbs up a hill, becoming a single track that runs along an old stone wall. There a few rocky bits and some mud, but the challenge level is not significantly different from what you have encountered already.
After Joy Rd, the NEBDR settles down with some very nice pavement sections and pleasant dirt roads.
VT-121 leads you to Grafton. Here the Grafton store provides a great place to grab a nice pastry or other baked goods, Vermont cheese, and products. The store has benches out front where you can sit and watch the world go by or head up the road a mile and stop at a nice pond with a picnic table (see waypoints).
The next major town the NEBDR passes through is Londonderry. You can find food, gas, and auto parts there, along with lodging options.
North of Londonderry, the NEBDR heads back into the Green Mountain National Forest on Forest Service Road 10 (FR10). The turn onto FR10 can be easily missed, so watch carefully for this right-turn.
FR10 (Danby Mountain Road/Tabor Mountain Road) is a pleasant ride through the White Rocks National Recreation area. You will find disbursed camping along the road (see waypoints for a recommendation from a Facebook group).
There is an overlook park about 11 miles from the start of FR10. The view from the park has grown up in recent years, obscuring most of it. There are picnic benches and bathrooms in the parking area and it is still a nice spot for a break.
Past the overlook, the NEBDR descends to VT-7. The Mount Tabor Country Store on VT-7 has gas ($5 minimum for credit card; pay before you pump), deli sandwiches and food.
Icebed road is your next class 4 challenge and it is significantly harder than the ones you have encountered so far. The road begins as a two-track but quickly puts your skills to the test with an open ledge that crosses a small stream. As you progress up the road you’ll find the ledges steeper and rockier. If it has rained recently, you may find the rocks covered in slippery, Vermont goo-dew, making traction difficult.
If you’re riding a loaded down big bike with 50/50 tires, I recommend the go-around for Icebed Road (unless you have very good skills and/or a crew you can push you up the ledges). If you do take the go-around, VT-140 is a great piece of twisty pavement.
If you’re riding north to south, you’ll find the entrance to Icebed road on your right just before the parking lot for the White Rocks picnic area. The road doesn’t look like much here, but yes, that’s it! (see photo).
After some pavement and gravel roads, Tabor Road comes up quickly as your next challenge. This class 4 has a rocky, boulder-strewn hill climb that can bounce you around and create some traction challenges.
After the hill climb, you descend into a flatter, mud, and rock section. A bit over a mile into Tabor Rd, you’ll come to a T-intersection. Turn left to continue on the track. At this point, the NEBDR overlaps with the Catamount ski trail. The Catamount Trail is a backcountry ski trail that traverses the length of Vermont.
When you emerge from Tabor Road, you’ll continue on a gravel road until you cross VT-100. Cross VT-100 onto Kingdom Road (a.k.a. Tyson Rd) -- a fun sport bike road. Continue on Kingdom Rd for 2.3 miles, then take a left onto Reading Pond Rd.
Reading Pond Rd starts out as a nice two-track lane through the woods and is the longest off-road section of NE4 at about 8 miles in length. Watch for hikers and bicycle traffic on the road.
Reading Pond Road becomes Mt Moses Rd and gets increasingly challenging. There are several loose rocky hill climbs and one steep loose descent. Overall, the technical challenge on this road is not as great as on Icebed Road or Tabor Road, but there are enough challenges to keep you up on your pegs. If you lose focus, you may find yourself quickly on the ground as I did on a loose rocky descent.
After Mt Moses Rd, follow the BDR on gravel roads until you reach US4. You’ll travel a short distance on US4 before making a right to head north again on the BDR. If you need gas, stay on US4 and continue west to the Bridgewater Corners store. A little farther down the road is the Long Trail Brewery where you can pick up fresh beer for your night’s camp.
Your next off-road section is in the Aquaduct Trails mountain biking network. The turn into the network is difficult to see: it looks like a driveway with a cluster of mailboxes on either side. The road, Grassy Lane, is a gentle two-track to start. Watch for mountain bike traffic crossing your path, as the mountain bike trails crisscross the class 4 road through the network.
Just past the reservoir on your right (about 1.2 miles in) you’ll see a tempting uphill two-track. This isn’t the BDR; bare right to continue on the BDR.
You’ll descend to short muddy section, followed by a steep uphill. Take your time to pick a good line and shouldn’t have any problem. You’ll exit the trail network on a gravel road. Turn left and travel a short distance to Vermont Route 12 and head north again.
Perry Road will come up on your right about 2.8 miles after turning onto VT-12. Take a right onto Perry Road, a pleasant gravel road. The class-4 section of Perry Road begins about a mile up the road. Perry Road is wide and relatively flat. The major challenge is the road can be very muddy and some of the mud holes can be quite deep. Unless things are wet or you are running tire that quickly packs with mud, you shouldn’t have a problem.
Perry Road ends at a paved road, which will take you to the Barnard General Store and the end of section 4. The Barnard store has deli sandwiches, beer, and pastry. If you need gas you can get ethanol-free, pure gas at the store.
Northeast Backcountry Discovery Route Movie
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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