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Biking across Lake Champlain on an old rail causeway

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in Colchester, Vt., bicyclists ride on the Island Line Trail bike path on an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., bicyclists watch as boats prepare to pass through a cut in an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., bicyclists wait to get on a special ferry across a cut in an abandoned railroad causeway between the Vermont mainland and the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., bicyclists walk their bikes after getting off a special ferry across a cut in an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., bicyclists collect their bicycles after taking a special ferry across a cut in an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in Colchester, Vt., bicyclists rest near a small bridge on the Island Line Trail bike path on an abandoned railroad causeway between the Vermont mainland and the the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., a bicyclist collect her bicycle after taking a special ferry across a cut in an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in South Hero, Vt., an image of a fish is carved into a piece of marble used to make a now-abandoned railroad causeway between the Vermont mainland and the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring

  • In this July 22, 2017 photo taken in Colchester, Vt., bicyclists ride on the Island Line Trail bike path on an abandoned railroad causeway from the Vermont mainland to the Lake Champlain islands. The seasonal ferry on the three-mile section of the Island Line Trail bike path carries cyclists across the opening in the causeway so they can reach the islands. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) Wilson Ring



Associated Press
Friday, August 04, 2017

Abandoned rail lines have been converted into recreation paths all over the United States. But the Island Line Trail in Vermont is unusual: It includes a causeway that runs across the open waters of Lake Champlain, from the Vermont mainland to the island community of South Hero. And that causeway includes a gap to allow boats through.

So how do bikers and others get across the 200-foot gap, known as the cut? An in-season ferry takes them from one side to the other.

It’s been more than a half-century since trains used the narrow causeway built on marble and granite blocks around the turn of the 20th century. The trip by ferry takes just a few minutes.

The unique trail across the lake is open for walking, running and fishing, but it’s mostly used by bicyclists, giving them a chance to practically pedal across the water amid the sailboats and motorboats. From one side of the cut, it’s more than 3 miles south to the mainland town of Colchester. From the other side it’s just a few hundred yards to South Hero.