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A motorcycle ride through history in Vermont

Added July 23, 2019
Red barn in field

When you think of Vermont, maple syrup will naturally come to mind. Vermont is America’s biggest producer of maple syrup, yielding well over a million gallons a year. It’s also a state with a rich and interesting history, and an awesome motorcycle road that’s a perfect pathway to explore—U.S. Route 7 (US7), also known as the Ethan Allen Highway.

Recognizing Ethan Allen

The highway is named for Ethan Allen, one of the more colorful figures in American history. He may be best known for leading the “Green Mountain Boys,” who captured Fort Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War. In his lifetime, Ethan Allen was a local hero who figured in the politics of Vermont prior to it becoming a state. He called both Bennington and Burlington, Vermont, home and is buried in the Green Mount Cemetery in Burlington. So, it seems natural to ride along from Bennington to Burlington on the Ethan Allen Highway.

Ride the Ethan Allen Highway—Bennington to Rutland

Starting in Bennington in the southwestern corner of Vermont, we head north. The first three miles is a limited-access highway that seems unlike a motorcycle road until it narrows to two lanes and enters the Green Mountain National Forest. Over the next 49 miles, you’ll pass Manchester and head toward Rutland. Once you’re south of Rutland, US7 runs concurrent with U.S. Route 4 to the town’s center. Rutland makes a good midpoint to stop for fuel, a meal, and some historic architecture, with 108 places listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ride the Ethan Allen Highway part two—Rutland to Burlington

The ride from Rutland to Burlington is about 63 miles, mostly through farmland and along forest lands. When you come to the town of Brandon, you could take a side trip along Vermont Route 73 to the Fort Ticonderoga–Larrabees Point Ferry. From May to October, you can cross Lake Champlain on the ferry and view the fort. It’s not exactly how Ethan Allen got there, but it’s a way to experience some history on your motorcycle.

From Brandon heading north, you’ll reach the college town of Middlebury. It’s a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy the New England atmosphere and some food. Going northbound, it’s about 32 miles to Burlington.

Discovering Vermont

The ride from Bennington to Burlington is less than 120 miles and can be covered round-trip on a summer’s day. With all the history, quaint inns, and interesting eateries, it just makes sense to consider a long weekend adventure along US7 to discover Vermont. Since foliage season draws a lot of leaf lookers, make sure to book your accommodations months ahead. You’ll also want to leave room in your saddlebags for some excellent Vermont maple syrup.

Getting there

You can access the Ethan Allen Highway from the west via New York State Route 7 then Vermont Route 279. From the south or east, you’ll have many points to connect, since US7 starts in Norwalk, Connecticut, and runs north through Massachusetts.

The state’s tourism department says the best way to experience Vermont is to tour the roadways that wind through the mountains and meet in the valleys. You’ll be on roads that’ll take you through Vermont's forests and farmland to historic villages and towns that are vibrant hubs of culture, commerce, and recreation.

Beyond the roads we’ve discussed here, Vermont's 10 designated byways range in length from 14 miles to more than 400 miles. An exploration can range in length from an afternoon to an entire summer, so you’ll want to be sure to plan ahead.

Till next time, ride safe!

Related links:

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