Back a few weeks ago, I headed over to New York State to watch over my son’s house and cat while he was away. It was great to get away (despite being without power for two days), but there was a downside. According to Vermont’s current travel restrictions, when visiting a county in a neighboring state that has a Covid-19 active case rate of over 400 cases/million population, you need to quarantine for 14 days upon return. Dutchess county, where my son lives, had a rate of about 600 when I was visiting.
So, I’ve spend the last two weeks sticking close to home. I admit that I’ve been stretching the quarantine rules slightly, doing a daily bike ride while practicing extreme social distancing. My last 14 rides have been the same; up Rt 30 and back, over and over again, just logging miles. It’s the kind of ride where I was never closer than 100 feet from another human being, except for those in passing cars. And I’ve made the assumption that Covid is probably not an issue in either direction when a person is blasting by you at 50 MPH, windows probably closed, AC blasting. Not very conducive rides for posts and pictures, though.
But as of yesterday, the quarantine period was over! I had some errands to run in Townshend, a town about 14 miles north of where I live. I thought about biking up to run the errands, but that would have put me on pretty much the same road I’ve ridden for the last two weeks. So, I threw the bike on the car and drove up, with a plan of heading north from Townshend on a ride once my errands were complete.
The ride I chose was one I’d done before, a fairly short but fun loop that heads up a gravel road on the west side of the West River, then over the Townshend Dam (more about that later), and then back down Rt 30 on the east side of the river back to Townshend.
State Forest Rd is a typical Vermont gravel road, lots of rolling hills, a few short but steep climbs, followed by similarly short and steep descents. It’s very sparsely populated. There is a private campground (of the RV variety) shortly after you get on the road, and a state park about midway up the ride, one of the many small state parks you’ll find tucked away all over the state. The park has tent camping available, as well as an assortment of hiking trails.
Riding a little further north, you come to the Scott Covered Bridge. This bridge is now closed to auto traffic. From 2012 to 2017, it was completely closed to all traffic, having been deemed structurally unsound. It was reopened for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in 2017, after a two million+ dollar renovation project.
Heading just a little further north, we get to the Townshend Dam. The dam is an earthen dam, built in the early 1960’s by the Army Corp of Engineers, primarily for flood control. Behind the dam sits Townshend Lake, although at this point in time, it’s not much of a lake; more of a wider part of the river. When we first moved to this area, there was a nice little beach available. In 2011 though, tropical storm Irene devastated this area, and washed tons of silt down the river and into the lake. There’s been projects going on to dredge the lake, but the beachfront has never reopened.
Although the dam was originally created for flood control, back in 2016 a company constructed a hydroelectric facility, one of several small scale hydro facilities in Vermont. Unfortunately, the water flow over the last few years has not consistently been able to generate much power.
From here, the ride heads over the dam, back onto Route 30, and south back to Townshend.
The ride back down Rt 30 is quite scenic and winding. It’s considerably narrower than the section I usually ride though, with fairly narrow shoulders. With the 50 MPH speed limit, you have to stay pretty alert. Consequently, no pictures on the trip back.