The Local Motion Bike Ferry


Thanks for a great year!

Click here to see our 2019 Visitors from around the world

An alternate 19.8-mile route around Mallets Bay to the Island Line Trailhead at Airport Park to downtown Burlington click below:

We will reopen for service in the late spring of 2020.

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Ferry FAQs

Find the answers to your most pressing questions about the Local Motion Bike Ferry!

Why “The Cut?”

Back in the day when the Causeway was the Island Line Railroad running from Rutland to Montreal, a swing bridge was built right near the north end of the line. Employees had a house right there; they were paid to open and close the bridge to boat traffic needing to pass through to and from Mallet’s Bay and Lake Champlain. When the railroad was dismantled, the bridge also came down. Now it is a 200-foot gap in the line. Up until the Bike Ferry came to the gap in 2005, cyclists and pedestrians (no motorized vehicles on the Causeway) couldn’t pass to the other side. But with our ingenious seasonal Bike Ferry, everyone can cross The Cut to the other side. We love to say The Cut.

From The Cut, going onto the Champlain Islands, where can we get something to eat?

Ah, the #1 question. Our Dockside Ambassadors will gladly inform you of the various eating options up near South Hero, including Allenholm Farm (maple creemees!), Seb’s (maple creemees!), a nifty little spot named The Accidental Farmer Café, the iconic Blue Paddle, and others nearby. The Island Line Trail Map includes a list of eating establishments within a 5-mile radius of the Ferry and is available on the Ferry and at the Local Motion Trailside Rental Center.

Can the Bike Ferry accommodate tandem bikes?

Oh yes, for sure.  We can carry tandem bikes, recumbent bikes, trikes, strollers, tag-along bikes for parent/kid, you name it.  Bring it on.  But note that if the tandem is rented from us at Local Motion, a rescue operation in the Islands will take some time.  


Why not. We’re all about inclusivity and equal opportunity.

What if I get a flat tire riding on the Causeway?

Well, we can help you: We carry a small stock of tubes on board the boat for your donation dollars, and we have a bicycle pump. Our able staff is ready for any challenge thrown at them!

Why do we pay $8 for a ticket? Seems like a lot.

Hey, it's $8 round trip! We’d love to say we could transport you for less, but the Ferry doesn’t run on love alone. It costs more than $200,000 to run this Ferry for just over 100 days of service each summer, and fares bring in less than half of that. We’re a non-profit dialing for dollars just like the next guy.

And just like the big ferries on the lake (the four of them in the area), we have to comply with the big boy rules and regulations of the waters. We have to pay fees for Coast Guard certification and have our Captains and Deckhands join the Maritime Consortium -- never mind the cost of boat gas, yadda, yadda, and more yadda.

We gratefully and gladly accept donations and gifts from generous donors who love the concept, who love cycling, who love the water, and who want to keep the Island Line Bike Ferry in operation. We are forever grateful to the support that keeps us afloat! We could not do this without you.

And many thanks go to our partners at VTrans who are supporting Ferry operations with a grant from the state's bike and pedestrian program. It is thanks to the many individual donors, and to local and state agency partners like VTrans, that we were able to rebuild the causeway and re-open the Bike Ferry after the devastating spring floods of 2011.

How about bathrooms? My daughter has to go…

Our Port-o-Potty and a second one placed by Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department sits on the north side of The Cut. On the south side, she can find bathrooms at Airport Park, less than a mile from the southern end of the Causeway.


Swim! Jump in anywhere along the Causeway off those big granite and marble boulders. It’s so refreshing. At The Cut, we’d advise you to stay clear of the entire tip of the Causeway where we, and plenty of other boats, operate.

What are those little black creatures running around the rocks? Are they black squirrels?

No, they’re minks. Aren’t they cute?

What if I rent a bike at Local Motion’s Trailside Center, and ride to The Cut, take the Ferry, and while riding on the Islands, I have a bike breakdown?

Please call the Trailside Center for guidance. They won’t come and get you, but they’ll advise you what to do. If you’re on the Ferry, or on the southern side of The Cut, however, we have a cool solution to a broken down bike: We put you on a “rescue” bike from the Ferry to get back to the Trailside Center. So all is not lost.

What’s the distance across The Cut?

A mere 200 feet.

What if the weather blows up, or lightning strikes nearby?

We run in all kinds of weather, and we’re safe in winds up to 30 mph. We WILL close temporarily for lightning storms, but we have not closed for the whole day in a couple of years. We keep close tabs on the weather in this exposed area; if we do close down for the day, we have an Emergency Closing Plan protocol of informing the public – via our website, with signs posted at both ends of the Causeway, and as a phone message at Local Motion.

Do you sell food or water at the Ferry?

That’s a no on the food (you’re on your own), but we do have cold water available for a donation.




Bike Rest Areas

Enjoy the best of recreational biking around northern Lake Champlain, and take a moment to stop off at a bicycle rest area along the way!

Eight picnic shelters and informational kiosks are located throughout the Champlain Islands, Alburgh, Colchester, and Shelburne.

View Rest Area Map     Passport To Prizes


Local Motion partnered with local businesses, the Lake Champlain Byway Council and VTrans, and numerous volunteers to develop and install the bicycle rest areas, so that bicyclists would have a place to eat lunch, take a break, and enjoy the natural scenery and nearby attractions that are part of the Lake Champlain Scenic Byway.

Bicycle Rest Areas Locations:

Historic Rutland Railroad Pump House (Alburgh Pump House) at the end of Lake Street in Alburgh Village

Alburg Golf Links 230 Route 129 Alburgh, VT 05440

Goodsell Ridge Fossil Preserve 239 Quarry Road, Isle La Motte, VT 05463

Hall Home Place and Island Ice Cider 4445 Main Street, Isle La Motte, VT 05463

Grand Isle Art Works 259 Route 2 Grand Isle, VT 05458

Airport Park at Colchester Point Road, Colchester, VT 05446 

Snow Farm Vineyard 153 West Shore Road, South Hero, VT 05486

Shelburne Vineyard 6308 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, VT 05482


Be a Ferry Volunteer

Local Motion's Bike Ferry, located 10 miles from Burlington on the beautiful Colchester Causeway, needs volunteer Dockside Ambassadors! Greet passengers, sell tickets, and provide tourist info to the best of your knowledge. Receive training on site when you arrive for your shift. For every volunteer shift you work, you'll receive one free pass for the Bike Ferry!

Volunteers needed... 

Summer Weekdays: Monday through Thursday, 4-hour shifts: 9:45 am - 1:45 pm or 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm
Spring, Summer, and Fall: Fridays, Weekends and Holidays, 4-hour shifts: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Sign up to volunteer for the Bike Ferry here:

Local Motion Volunteer Opportunities

How to get to the ferry (from the Colchester side): 

The Cut is 3 miles from Mills Point in Colchester, on Colchester Point Rd. There's a parking lot there from which you can ride your bike. Or park at Airport Park and ride 4.2 miles to the Cut, or ride from Burlington for a beautiful 10-mile bike tour!

Discount at City Market:

Interested in receiving City Market Member Worker credit for volunteering at the Ferry to receive a discount on groceries? City Market/Onion River Co-op Member Workers receive a 7% discount for two hours of volunteer time and a 12% discount for four hours of volunteer time. And you can bank up to 12 months of hours! To be eligible, you must first attend a Member Worker orientation.

Note: Ferry volunteers receive an additional 1 hour of work credit for the time it takes to transport yourself out and back from the Cut--that time will be automatically included when you sign up on (a total of 5 volunteer hours!).



Ferry History

The Island Line: Rail to Trail


Building the Island Line Trail

In 1899, the Rutland-Canadian Railroad built the Island Line - one of the world's most spectacular stretches of the railbed. The incentive behind the extraordinary effort was the connection between the bustling New England seacoast and the Great Lakes. The Island Line finally provided a direct Rutland-owned connection from southern New England to Lake Ontario.

The Island Line served the New England communities well until moving freight by other means became cheaper. The last passenger and freight trains ran in 1955 and 1961 respectively. It was not until the early 1980's that Burlington citizens began to rally around the idea of a trail on the abandoned line. 

The Winooski River Bridge

The former railroad bridge over the Winooski River was dismantled in 1972 – only 8 years before citizens organized to redevelop the rail line into a trail.Winooski_River_Bike_Bridge.jpg Local Motion’s Winooski River bike ferry provided an interim means of connecting the trail between Burlington and Colchester from 2000-2004 and helped to prove the demand for the connection across the river. After the current Winooski River bridge opened to much fanfare in 2004 the ferry operation moved north along the trail to the 200’ cut in the 3-1/2 mile long Colchester-South Hero Causeway.

The Burlington & Colchester Trail Bridge officially opened on August 1st, 2004 with hundreds of enthusiastic trail users. The bridge and its associated ½-mile elevated boardwalk is the link that has permanently united the Burlington Bike Path and the Colchester Causeway into a stunning 14-mile regional trail.
The last Winooski River ferry ran on October 13, 2003, as the new trail bridge was being constructed. This would be the last day of service for old Bike Ferry I -- it was retired after six years of service. Bike Ferry II would move up to The Cut in the causeway.

The Bike Ferry Over Time

Local Motion's first bike ferry ran across the mouth of the Winooski River between Delta Park in Colchester and the Auer Family Boat House in Burlington. It all started when Brian Costello stopped Chapin Spencer on Burlington's College Street in 1997. Brian told Chapin of his vision to connect the Colchester Causeway Park with the Burlington Bike Path. Brian donated a motor and Chapin donated a boat. Charlie and Christine at Auer's Boat House agreed to host the ferry service. Governor Dean and community leader Bill Hauke were our first passengers in 1998.

Each year we have improved the service. Volunteer Steve Hard built our first real stairs down to donated docks in 2001. In 2004, Bike Ferry III was christened the "Bill and Carole Hauke" thanks to the generous lead gift that enabled its purchase. As a larger, more stable pontoon boat, it could provide a more reliable service. In 2005, a quick capital campaign raised $55,000 to install new ramps and docks.
Each year ridership and support has grown. In 2005, we started operating two 6-passenger ferries at the cut to handle the demand. By 2008, we were boarding an average of over a hundred passengers per day. Thanks to our 60-100 volunteers who make this demonstration service possible.

The Big Fix: Island Line Restoration


A few years ago, we were on the cusp of launching a capital campaign to raise the remaining funds for our new bike ferry infrastructure out at The Cut. Then In the spring of 2011, Lake Champlain rose to an all-time record high, the damage making it likely that the causeway would be lost, and the capital campaign would be put on hold indefinitely.. Then an extraordinary thing happened -- all the towns came together and FEMA determined the Causeway was eligible for disaster relief funding, covering 80% of the reconstruction costs.

Local Motion decided that instead of canceling the campaign we would expand our goals and launch a campaign to raise matching funds to rebuild the causeway and the bike ferry.....and that successful campaign was the Big Fix. This campaign united support among the municipalities for the Island Line Rail Trail and brought a new awareness to the extraordinary nature and value of this resource to the whole region.
On November 1, 2012, Local Motion and RunVermont handed over a $50,000 check to the City of Burlington as repairs commenced on two areas of the path (Lakeview Cemetery and Northshore).


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