Harpooning the Whales
Distance: 110 miles
Elevation gain: 11,417 ft (GPS devices vary)
Road Surface: 59% gravel; 38% asphalt; 3% Class IV/trail
This was the Green Mountain Gravel/GravelDads route for the 2020 Virtual Point to Point. It starts (and ends) at the “Whale Dance” sculpture in Randolph, just off Interstate 89. There is a parking lot there, as well as a park and ride lot just up the road.
After heading down Route 66 and onto Stock Farm Road, you’ll find your way along some lovely rolling gravel sections near the White River.
You’ll pass through Bethel and some nice farm country. One of the toughest and longest climbs of the day starts around mile 15 and heads up the Royalton Turnpike. From that summit you’ll head toward Pomfret; watch for a spectacular mountain view on Webster Hill Road before climbing historic Galaxy Hill (both of these are featured in our video).
Then it’s on down into Quechee, where you can view the picturesque falls from the covered bridge and take in the famous Quechee Gorge.
The next major point of interest is Harpoon Brewery, which is a great place to stop and have lunch if they are serving when you are there. After that, tail back up and head for Hartford and the Hurricane Town Forest.
The entrance to the Town Forest is easy to miss; check our video for a visual reference. The trail through the forest can be muddy and rutted but is generally pretty okay for a gravel bike. The Class IV section that comes afterward, down King’s Highway to Wright Reservoir Road, is another matter entirely. Be prepared for a rocky, technical experience that will keep you on your toes. Ride with caution!
After surviving the Town Forest, you’ll ride through Hartford proper and then on to Norwich. The village green is a nice place for a break if you need one. The end of Kate Wallace Road is marked as a Dead End, but have no fear; there’s a way through. It’s a single-track jaunt through the woods which is narrow but fairly well traversed.
When you discover Button Hill Road, things are getting close. Now it’s time for the legs to show you what they’ve got left. Two big climbs are all that’s left between you and your return to Whale Dance: Gee Hill Road is the first. You will be rewarded by an insane view on the monster descent of Post Farm Road into East Bethel. The last big climb of the day is East Bethel Road, which takes you back up into Randolph. Hang a left to scoot back down the top section of Route 66 and you’re back at Whale Dance.