North Beach Campground is an urban facility just outside the downtown area of Burlington, Vermont. There is easy access to downtown via the bikeway: Island Line Trail (2010 Rail Trail Hall of Fame winner) that hugs the waterfront. This is a beautiful 14-mile biking trail with nonstop scenic views, the bikeway first opened in 1987.
The campground is a wooded oasis in the city. This piece of property was set-aside back in 1918 to be used as a park site along the lakeshore of Lake Champlain. In 1921 the campground was established. The sites are a bit close together in some areas. The restrooms are your average state campground kind. Relatively clean, and maintained. The exterior looks like a newer facility than what you see inside. But they have hot water, provide soap and paper towel. The trash is emptied regularly. Yes there are cobwebs here and there.
What is great about this campground is that it has easy access to the bike path and it is connected to a beautiful beach. It is one of those places where we can set-up camp for a couple of days and stay cozied in. We had the choice of a tent site or an electric site. This time we choose a tent site. Within minutes we had our spot set-up for the evening and had our bikes off the rack. Before dark and the rain, we got in a bike ride, which included a trip downtown to pick up supper on Church Street at a great little restaurant Boloco.
They next day with afternoon rain in the forecast we decided to bike back to downtown (1 mile) and visit the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. The Center was found in 2003 and includes interactive exhibits. It is a wonderful little science museum that centers mostly on understanding the natural resources related to Lake Champlain. Along with some of the life and culture that has been part of the area. I really liked how they discussed the basin including both information about Vermont, the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks and New York. The Center is part of the larger Patrick and Marcelle Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. We were told that it was a little kids museum but we found that we enjoyed it as much as the kids around us and learned many new things.
The following day we took off from the campground and biked all the way to the cut in the bikeway where the bike Ferry moves people and their bikes across a space that once housed a swing rail bridge that was removed in the 1960’s. One of the amazing features of the trail is the causeway that the trains use to run on. The causeway is made of chunks of granite that created a rail bed for the train and now is the bike path. On one side of the causeway you have spectacular views of the Adirondack Mountains in New York and on the other side you see the Green Mountains of Vermont. The day we rode the trail we could see the dramatic way in which the weather can change. Over the Adirondacks we could see a storm with dark clouds and rain. On the Green Mountain side we saw blue skies, light clouds and sun. It was an amazing experience.
We finished our ride with a quick trip to our campsite to change into our swimming suits and got chance to cool off with a nice swim in Lake Champlain. Later that night we walked the trail back into town to find a Creemee (Vermont for soft ice cream). On the walk home we enjoyed a beautiful sunset on the Lake.
The next day we packed up to leave, taking Abbey down to the beach parking lot. The wind was blowing and there were white caps on the Lake, which surprised us since the campground was quiet. We did a couple of miles on the trail before returning to hang out on the beach for a while to watch the waves and read our books. Then it was time to head back home, refreshed from our camping and bicycling trip.
© 2015 Jelane A. Kennedy & Eileen A. McFerran