Vermont Bucket List Checkmark: Ride the Bayley-Hazen Military Road
Step-by-step guide to adventure on the Bayley-Hazen Military Road
A bucket list is a good thing to have: it gets you out riding, taking on new roads and challenges. The Bayley-Hazen Military Road has been on my bucket list since I first learned about it 3 years ago and this September I finally found the time to ride it.
The road runs from Wells River Village in Newbury Vermont to Montgomery Vermont on a mix of pavement, class 3 and 4 dirt roads. The trip is approximately 80 miles, depending on which route you take, and takes you through classic Northeast Kingdom Vermont -- scenic and uncrowded.
The road is historic. Constructed between 1776 and 1779 the road was the brainchild of Jacob Bayley and Moses Hazen. Wikipedia is sketchy on the details, but it seems that Hazen owned land in Quebec and wanted the Continental Army to invade our neighbors to the north.
Bayley, a founding father of Newbury VT is said to have started the road in 1776 with a six mile section from Newbury to Peacham. Hazen took over construction in 1779 and completed the section from Peacham to Hazen’s Notch in Lowell, VT. The road was forty miles short of its original destination, St. Johns Quebec.
The British soon discovered that the road could be easily travelled in either direction and used it to conduct raids into Vermont. Oh, well, another good idea conceived in beer gone awry.
After the war, the Bayley-Hazen was used to travel the area and eventual became what it is today: a mix of amusing twisty pavement, easy to ride well maintained dirt roads and a few challenging sections that we’ll cover in the Hero Section side bar.
The route is suitable for dual-sports, adventure bikes and anything that loves dirt roads. It helps to have good tires for dirt sections. I would not attempt the hero sections without knobbies, although I’m sure someone, somewhere has probably completed it on a woefully under equipped bike.
I began my tour at the P&H Truck Stop on US-302. You can buy gas and food here and there is a nice diner that serves traditional style food. After the P&H there is no gas directly on the route -- although you can get services near-by.
After leaving P&H, ride into Well River on US-302 until you intersected US-5. To find the start of the Bayley-Hazen, turn left onto US-5 and follow it north for approximately 2 tenth of a mile. As you round a left hand corner, watch for a Bible Hill Rd on your left. The turn is a hard left up a steep paved hill.
Bible Hill Road flows along as nice narrow twisty road. Eventually it becomes dirt which signals the start of South Bayley-Hazen road.
Approximately 5.2 miles from the beginning of Bible Hill Road is Ryegate Corners. Here the paved road bears right and North Bayley-Hazen goes straight as dirt road. There is a historic marker sign here, marking the road.
Follow North Baily-Hazen Road to Mosquitoville. Here, you pass a cemetery and then a small, yellow church building; after the church, you come to a small, triangular green; bear left at the green onto Schoolhouse Road, a narrow dirt track.
Schoolhouse road winds through the woods until it comes to T-intersection. Turn right onto Farrow Farm Road. Shortly after turning onto Farrow Farm Road, the road appears to continue straight, but to follow Farrow Farm Road, keep left and ride the hard left hand turn. Follow Farrow-Farm Road until you come to the intersection with the Peacham-Barnet Road (paved).
Take a left onto Peacham-Barnet Road and then a right onto the Peacham-Groton Road. In a bit under .3 of mile take a right onto Elkins Way. Elkins Way is a small dirt road that looks like someone’s driveway. The road travel close between a house and a barn, then scrambles up a small hill. When I road this in September, the road was heavily eroded here due a washout.
The road becomes the Bayley-Hazen Rd here and enters into a peaceful section of woods. In a short distance, the Bayley-Hazen Rd emerges into a small cluster of houses. Keep left until you come back to pavement. Take a right onto South Main Street and ride towards Peacham Center. The Peacham Store and Peacham Cafe is on your left.
I didn’t stop at the Peacham Café, but their menu has a good selection of breakfast and lunch items, including Fresh Baked pastries and pies. If you’re in need of break, the Peacham Café looks like a great choice.
After passing the Peacham Café, travel 1.7 miles then bear left off the pavement onto a narrow dirt road (Bayley-Hazen Road) and follow it through the woods. The Bayley-Hazen continues along on as a class 3 dirt road for the next 4.4 miles, until it intersects with US-2. Take a left on US-2 and travel .9 of a mile to West Shore Road on the right (dirt).
West Shore Road travels down the western edge of Joe’s Pond. As you ride, you have views through the trees of the pond to the east. Travel approximately 2 miles on West Shore Road and then take a sharp left onto Cabot Plains Road. Travel on Cabot Plains Road for 1.4 miles until you reach a T-intersection. Take a right turn onto Cabot Plains road (yes, that is correct; turn right off of Cabot Plains Road onto Cabot Plains Road; remember, we’re in the Northeast Kingdom and that’s how it’s done here).
In .2 of mile, the Bayley-Hazen road turns off to the right on a narrow dirt road. The road is an easily travelled class 4 dirt road with one small scramble up a hill at the beginning. Follow this road for about a mile until you come to pavement and route 215. Take a right turn onto route 215 and follow that to Vermont-15.
Turn left onto VT-15 and ride 2.3 miles; then take a right onto Bayley-Hazen Road. There is a green sign marking the historic road on the street sign. Follow the Bayley-Hazen Road 2.9 miles to Belfry Road. Take left onto Belfry/Noyestar Road (dirt) and follow it out to VT-16 (paved).
Ride approximately .9 mile on VT-16 and then take a left onto Baylay-Hazen Road. The road hooks back to the left and then winds along as a narrow dirt road. After a short bit, the road merges with Hardwick Street (paved).
Ride on Hardwick Street for approximately 1.5 miles, until you come to a four-way intersection with a softball field on the right corner. Go straight across the intersection onto Lake Shore Road (dirt).
Lake Shore Road parallels the western short of Caspian Lake. As you ride, there are nice views of the lake to the south and east. You will pass a monument marking a block house location and the spot where Constant Bliss and Moses Sleeper where killed by Native Americans.
Follow Lake Shore Road approximately 2 miles. You will come to an intersection with Circus Road; the Bayley-Hazen Road continues straight as a narrow double-track, class-4 dirt road. Continue on this section for 1.3 miles until you come to East Craftsbury Road (a.k.a. Ketchum Hill Road).
Take a left onto Ketchum Hill Road and ride for 1.4 miles to Creek Road. Take a left onto Creek Road and ride .6 mile. Take a right onto Kings Farm Road and then ride approximate 1.5 miles to Strong Road. Take a left onto Strong Road and ride to a T-intersection with North Craftsbury Road. Take a right onto North Craftsbury Road and follow it until it becomes Wylie Hill Road.
Wylie Hill Road is a narrow, gravel road, running through the woods. It begins with a moderately steep downhill that could be loose, depending on recent weather.
Ride Wylie Hill Road until it comes to a T-intersection with VT-14. It is now time to decide: hero section or no hero section? Read the Bayley-Hazen Road hero section description to help you choose.
If choose to skip the hero, turn right and ride 1.8 miles and then take a right onto Water Street. Travel Water Street until it intersects with Center Hill Road. Take a left onto Center Hill Road (dirt) and follow it to Center Road. Take a left onto Center Road and follow to a fork, where Delano Road continues straight and a Chamberlin Hill Road forks right. Take the right fork onto Chamberlin Hill Road.
Chamberlin Hill Road is a pretty, narrow dirt road winding through hills, among farms and then woods and then farms again. After 2.9 miles you will come to an intersection with Creek Road. Take a left turn onto Creek Road and follow 3.2 miles to the town green in Irasburg.
Ray’s Market is on your right as you ride around the green. Ray’s is a small town market with produce, a real meat counter and a small selection of grocery items. Ray’s is open Monday through Saturday.
In Irasburg, take a left on Park Avenue and then a right onto VT-14. Follow VT-14 1.2 miles to a fork, where VT-58 splits off to the left. Ride 6.8 miles on VT-58 to Irish Hill Rd on your left.
Irish Hill Road is a dirt road. Approximately 2 miles up Irish Hill Road is the north end of the hero section. Continue on Irish Hill Road until it intersects with VT-100. Turn right on VT-100 and ride a short distance to VT-58 on your left.
VT-58, known locally as Hazen Notch Road, begins as a paved curvy road with a nice meander. It then becomes a dirt road as you ride through the woods to Montgomery center, where there is food, gas and stores.
Enjoy your adventure on Bayley-Hazen Road. I enjoyed mine and plan on coming back soon!
The Bayley-Hazen Hero Section
If you’re up for a challenge, consider including the hero section on your Bayley Hazen ride.
The hero section is rocky, contains ledges and is uphill if you’re riding south to north. It is a bit easier to ride the section north-to-south, because you’re descending the steep ledges rather than bullying your way up.
I highly recommend a true dual-sport for the hero section. I have seen large bikes, like a BMW GS, tackle it, but it is a lot of work and you better have friends willing to help push. Bikes like DR-650 and the KLR650 are the largest bikes I would recommend.
Regardless of what you ride, I do not recommend riding the section alone. It is remote and if you have an issue you’ll be a long way from help. I can’t say if your cell phone will work there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t.
To reach the south end of the Hero section, from Wylie Hill Rd, turn right on VT-14 and travel 2 miles to New Street. Ride New Street approximately 1 mile to Bayley-Hazen on the right.
The road is a civilized class 3 road here. As you travel, the road becomes a farm road, double-track and then eventually a wider, rocky trail. Be prepared for large stones, loose rock and ledges. Eventually, the road emerges out into a field and then joins Irish Hill Road at a T-intersection. Take a left to rejoin the large bike route.
In all, the hero section is approximately 4 miles in length. It ascents around 660 feet and then descends about 650 feet, including a section where it rises 548 feet in 1.7 miles. The steepest grade you’ll encounter is around 8%. It’s not that steep, as hills go, but the road surface combined with the grade makes for a challenge section, especially if you’re on a bigger bike.