Cycling Appalachian Gap East, Vermont
Ride 2.9 miles gaining 1,239’ at 8.3% average grade.
“The east side of Appalachian Gap in scenic central Vermont might surprise you. Its grade is fairly steady (steep) over much of its length which belies its overall steep nature. The road is somewhat narrow and does not carry a lot of traffic most of the time. It begins as stout grade, eases a bit for a short stretch and then steepens again, a pattern that is repeated as you ascend west. The steepest section on this hill is toward the top and the grade only eases over the last 0.2 miles of the route. The view at the obvious top (looking west) is one of the best in Vermont. The annual race on its slopes runs the full length of the hill which includes a shallow start…” (This quote is provided with the approval of John Summerson from his book The Complete Guide to Climbing (by Bike) in the Northeast, pg. 162.)
This is a short but challenging bike climb that ranks as the eighth most difficult in Vermont. Appalachian Gap is located in Vermont’s Green Mountains and finishes at the southern tip of Camel's Hump State Park.
Of course they built a ski resort just below Appalachian Gap -- its 2,000’ of vertical drop rank #14 in New England and Ski Magazine ranked it as the most challenging ski mountain in Eastern North America:
“Let's face it, you don't go to Mad River unless you are hard core. Come for the challenging terrain, stay for the challenging terrain.”
That’s a wrap!!
No, wait . . .
Here’s a summary from PJAMM’s James Young of Toronto, Canada. Note that James started his climb in Irasville about three miles east of our start (our start only includes the major portion of the climb, but we also did start in Irasville for our trip up to Appalachian Gap East in October, 2020).
The climb starts at the intersection of Highways 100 and 17. This is a three part climb. The first half is dead easy – three miles of warm up – thinking “wouldn’t it be nice to ride to the top like this.” More of a false flat with some gentle rollers along the way. Then there is the second part. There is a bend in the road to the left (it’s always to the left!) and onto the small ring for some serious up slope riding. The next mile and a bit is stiff but not brutal. The ski station comes into sight and it is easy to be seduced into thinking that is it. Not so. The third part happens when you arrive at a giant right 180 sweeper with the ski station on your left. Up ahead the road disappears into the forest and then you are onto the last part. What remains is just under 1.5 miles of really steep stuff that twists and turns until finally the end is in sight. Up and to the left you can just make out the top of the road -- a real peak...There is a parking lot with viewing stations there and in either direction is steep down.
The surface is sublime and if descending is your thing then this one is for you. There is a reasonable amount of traffic on the climb but I never felt threatened as the shoulder is very good.
Caveat: I started this ride at 4pm -- not my favourite time so I went into it with a little bit of attitude.
Six miles and 1600 feet
Road surface: Outstanding
Traffic: Somewhat busy but mostly a good shoulder.
Beauty: Very pretty…especially at the top.
Tree Coverage: Solid throughout
Descent: Let it rip
Start Parking/Amenities: There is a Valero Gas Station at the start....good for post ride drinks. I parked in the used car lot next door (it was closed).