Vermont. It really is as beautiful and green as you imagine it to be. On this goal-oriented, summer bike trip you’ll pedal through Vermont’s deep green valleys, famous for covered bridges, cool streams, cow-dotted pastures, and charming small towns. Along the way, you’ll kayak Lake Champlain and volunteer with locals on a service project. Together as a team you’ll make your way north up to the Canadian border before looping back through the Champlain Islands to reach your final destination of Burlington. A fun contrast to rural Vermont, this vibrant college town offers the perfect setting to celebrate your many amazing accomplishments.
Cycling Rural Vermont & Sea Kayaking Lake Champlain
We’ll start our ride in the charming village of Shaftsbury, where we’ll get to know each other and begin to learn the ins and outs of bicycle touring. With Lake Champlain as our first goal, we’ll head north through lush valleys, rolling hills, and picture-perfect villages, camping on the shores of serene Vermont State Park lakes along the way. Reaching the shores of Lake Champlain, we’ll trade our bikes for sea kayaks and spend some time exploring Champlain’s gorgeous coves and bays with professional guides.
Approaching the Canadian Border & Touring the Champlain Islands
After our time kayaking, we’ll continue north along Lake Champlain’s eastern shore and enjoy the sights of the Lake to our left and Vermont’s famed Green Mountains to our right. We’ll cross Lake Champlain between Maquam Bay and Goose Bay at the northernmost point of our ride together, less than 5 miles from the Canadian Border. From here, we’ll turn south and enjoy some of the most picturesque riding of the trip through the Champlain Islands.
Community Service & Celebrating in Burlington
Crossing Lake Champlain one more time, but this time by short ferry ride and on a beautiful rail trail causeway, we’ll arrive at our final destination of Burlington. Feeling fantastic about reaching our final goal, we’ll spend two nights and a full day exploring the sights of this dynamic city. We’ll kick-off our last full day by lending a helping hand maintaining the Island Line Bike Trail or volunteering at a local community farm. Afterwards, we’ll walk Burlington’s streets, pay a visit to the flagship Ben & Jerry’s Store, and celebrate with a final dinner out on the town.
Please see our General FAQ page for many more frequently asked questions and answers!
Was this 2021 trip originally scheduled to ride to Montréal?
Yes. Our Vermont & Lake Champlain bike trip was originally titled Vermont to Montréal. We decided in April of 2021 that there were just too many uncertainties and complications to continue planning for the Canada portion of the trip. Our goal is to bring this piece back in 2022 when, hopefully, COVID-19 is no longer a factor with travel between the United States and Canada.
How physically challenging is VLC?
Given a rating of Challenge Level 4 (out of a maximum of 10), we consider VLC to be a beginner cycle-touring trip that any moderately fit, motivated student can successfully complete with some prior preparation. Compared to similar biking trips, we believe that VLC is slightly more challenging than Cape Cod & the Islands (mostly due to extended mileage), but easier than Pacific Coast. Please note that all of Apogee’s Challenge Levels are not scientific and are subjectively calculated by the Apogee staff.
Where will my child be sleeping on this trip?
Our VLC groups will be camping in Vermont State Parks and established private campgrounds every night of the trip. Leaders will separate students by gender into tent groups, and participants will share a tent with one or two other students.
My child is new to cycle touring and has never ridden with loaded panniers. Could my child participate without previous experience?
Yes. Apogee’s trips are designed around the concept of “achievable challenge” – anyone who has a willingness to challenge themselves and possesses a basic to moderate level of physical fitness is already well-prepared. Upon your child’s enrollment, we will send you a suggested training schedule that we highly recommend your child completes prior to his/her trip. Training beforehand (especially with panniers and weight) will directly contribute to good risk management and your child’s physical comfort.
Does my child need to bring his or her own bike for this trip?
No – we offer rental bikes (as well as panniers) for an additional fee. In 2021, the cost of a hybrid rental bicycle for the 12-day trip is $225. Waterproof rental panniers are available for $50. If your child already has a bike that is appropriate for this trip, they are welcome to bring it. Please call our office with any questions regarding the suitability of your child’s bike for this trip.
What does the community service portion of this trip entail?
The specifics of our community service projects and the number of hours we volunteer varies slightly from year-to-year. In the past, we have worked with Burlington Parks and Recreation on a variety of tasks including invasive species removal, bike trail maintenance, fence painting, etc. Students can expect 3-5 hours of community service work over the course of our trip, usually in a single day.
How will I communicate with my child while they are on this trip?
We are a technology-free program, meaning that your child won’t have access to their phone or other electronics over the course of their trip. That said, students will get a chance to call home on their trip leaders’ phones once over the course of the trip (usually near the midpoint of the trip). We also have one mail stop on VLC; parents, relatives, and friends are welcome to use this to send letters or packages to a student. If you have an urgent message to get to your child, please call our office and we’ll work to get you connected with your child.
My child will be flying to this trip start. How will they connect with their leaders?
Please note that Apogee staff members do not travel with students; our trip leaders will already be in Wakefield (Boston) on arrival day and will stay at our headquarters in Maine after the trip ends. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student who is flying to the trip start and will be at Boston’s Logan Airport to greet them on arrival. Once students are with their leaders, they will call home to let their parents know they have arrived and are with their group. Please see our blog post for specifics regarding students traveling as Unaccompanied Minors. Conversely, if a student is flying home at trip’s end, we will get them to Logan Airport, get them checked into their flight, and make sure they depart safely. Further, we encourage you to coordinate travel with other attendees; we’re happy to put you in touch with other enrolled families from your region. We will provide enrolled families with a Travel Information document covering details specific to traveling to and from Boston, including airport information and arrival and departure time windows. Please contact Apogee with any specific questions or concerns regarding drop-offs and/or pick-ups.
Aside from the trip cost, what are the additional expenses for this trip?
Apogee’s tuition costs are meant to be all-inclusive and include all meal, accommodation, and activity fees. The most significant additional expenses on our Vermont & Lake Champlain trip will include travel to and from Wakefield/Boston, MA, a sleeping bag and sleeping pad, a bike helmet, and touring bike and panniers (rentals are available, see above).
Will the COVID-19 pandemic affect this trip? Is it running in 2021?
While there may be modifications to some aspects of trip life in order to maintain necessary COVID-specific health and safety protocols, we are currently planning to run this program in the summer of 2021. For more information on how COVID-19 may affect Apogee trips in the summer of 2021, please visit our COVID-19 page.