The Back Roads To Big Falls Bike Tour begins in Westfield, Vermont, a quiet, rural town located in the farflung northeastern corner of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. The bicycle route travels north over a combination of quiet, paved and unpaved roads. It's a delightful ride through a landscape of gentle hills, forest and streams leading to the Missisquoi River which runs through the center of North Troy. Along the way are many surprises including an historic, picturesque covered bridge, a popular swimming hole and a beautiful waterfall. The hard-packed, unpaved roads are suitable for both mountain bikes and hybrid bicycles.
The Bike Route: Back Roads To Big Falls
Departing from Route 100 in Westfield, cycle north on paved North Hill Road for 4.2 miles. Continue riding straight on paved North Jay Road in Jay.
5.9 miles: Junction with Route 105. Keep straight on North Jay Road. The paved road gives way to unpaved terrain. It becomes paved for a short stretch after another 4 miles.
10.3 miles: Go straight towards the village green in North Troy. In three tenths of a mile (10.6 miles from the start), make a right turn on Route 243 after you pass the North Troy business district. After another tenth of a mile, make a left onto Route 105.
12.2 miles: Right turn on River Road and you are back on unpaved terrain again. Thank goodness!. Keep pedaling another mile and a half to Big Falls. Big Falls are located around 1.5 miles south of Rt.105 (North Troy) on River Road. There is an obvious unmarked parking area on the side of the road. The falls are about 200 feet from the parking area. A few hundred yards before the falls, the Missisquoi River flows over and around a wide rock ledge in a series of three steps. It then rushes through a narrow gap and crashes to the floor of a deep wooded gorge. There are jaw-dropping views of the falls from the edge of the cliff. Use extreme caution. There is no railing and it’s a long way down. Nearby ledges provide somewhat safer vantage points.
After stopping to admire the falls and perhaps enjoy a snack or picnic lunch, continue straight on unpaved River Road in the direction you were going for about 2.6 miles.
16.5 miles: Come to an intersection with Veilleux Road. The 92-ft long, School House Bridge is the northernmost covered bridge in Vermont (see Historical Note below). It stands at a bend in the Missisquoi River next to a ford and a sandbar. At low water, you can walk out on the sand within a hundred feet of the span. Look for the swimming hole to your right at the intersection. Stop and check out this picturesque, barn red covered bridge, then continue straight on unpaved River Road for 3.9 miles. River Road becomes paved in 3.0 miles.
20.4 miles: Make a right turn onto Route 100 South. In about 0.4 miles make a left to continue on Route 100 South in Troy.
22.4 miles: Arrive at the junction of Route 100 and North Hill Road in Westfield.
The School House Bridge (Circa 1910)
Barn red, the ninety-two foot School House Bridge stands at a bend in the Missisquoi River, next to a ford and a sandbar. The bridge is interesting because of it's three pairs of flying buttresses and the low roof line. The height of the plank-lattice trusses on this bridge are one to two feet shorter than usual, leaving insufficient space for hay wagons to pass through. If the conventional interior bracing system had been used, this would not be the case. It is the only bridge in the state where the truss is held together with single pins (trunnels); all others use two. A new metal roof was put on in 2002.
For more information:
Northeastern Vermont Development Association
Phone: (802) 748-5181