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The Beebe Spur Rail Trail (also known as the Newport--Beebe Bike Path) makes a level run along the eastern shore of Lake Memphremagog to Vermont’s border with Canada. At less than 4 miles, the distance isn’t taxing, although the gravel surface can make for a challenging bicycle ride without wide tires. At the north end, travelers who want to cross into Canada need to take a 1.5-mile detour and carry a passport.
The trail’s name is derived from the historic community of Beebe Plain, which straddles the US–Canada border; a mid-19th-century post office served both countries from opposite ends of the building. The town served as a railroad connection between a branch of the Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad completed in 1867 and Canada’s Massawippi Valley Railway built in 1870. The Quebec Central Railway took control of the line in 1926. A subsequent owner, Canadian Pacific Railway, discontinued use on the line in 1990 and removed the tracks in 1992.
The Beebe Spur Rail Trail follows that old Connecticut and Passumpsic Rivers Railroad line from Newport to the border, while the 19-kilometer (11.8-mile) Sentier Nature Tomifobia uses the Massawippi Valley Railway corridor in Canada.
Starting at the south end in Newport, the trail reveals spectacular views of Lake Memphremagog in less than a mile. This glacial lake’s name means “where there is a big expanse of water.” It spans Vermont and Quebec over its 32-mile length and allows unobstructed views of the Green Mountains to the west. A small trailside pond surrounded by ferns and wildflowers contrasts with the wide-open lake behind it, providing a perfect spot for a snapshot or selfie.
As you gaze across the water, be aware of the legendary lake monster Memphre. With a horse-shaped head at the end of his long neck and a body the size of a house, the creature has elicited sightings for more than 100 years. It hasn’t been seen since 2005, despite the whimsically named In Search of Memphre ultramarathon swim across 25 miles of Lake Memphremagog every July and September.
Heading north, you’ll pass by many lakefront homes—some with tidy boathouses—-with screened-in porches for enjoying views of this shoreline setting. You’ll likely feel a friendly vibe, as trail users who bicycle, walk their dogs, or simply gaze at the water offer cheerful greetings.
After 3 miles, the trail veers away from the lake, passes parking for the trail, and enters residential North Derby. This is no longer a border crossing, but signs direct you 1.5 miles east to Beebe Road, which enters Canada.
To reach the southern trailhead from I-91, take Exit 28, and head west on US 5 S/SR105 W. Go 0.7 mile, then turn right onto Shattuck Hill Road. Go 1.2 miles, and turn left onto Darling Hill Road. Go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Prouty Dr. In 0.5 mile turn right into the parking lot for North Country Hospital. After parking, retrace your route about 0.1 mile along Prouty Dr. to the trail and turn left.
To reach the northern trailhead from I-91, take Exit 28, and head west on US 5 S/SR 105 W. Go 0.7 mile, then turn right onto Shattuck Hill Road. Go 1.2 miles, and turn right onto Darling Hill Road. Go 1.1 miles, and bear left onto N. Derby Road. Go 1.8 miles, and turn left at a sign for Department of Fish and Wildlife. You’ll find parking here; the trail ends 0.8 mile to the north.
We truly love this trail and probably would have rated it a 5 if there was at least one bathroom. Also, there was a little confusion about parking. Saw the biggest snapper turtle ever. Estimate that it was 18" broad and 32" long.
I have been aware of this trail for years, but have never walked or cycled this trail until this week. On Sunday, 6/25/2017, my partner Sue and I walked the trail 2/3 of the way, when threatening skies and the sound of thunder turned us around back to Newport (we just made it back before the cloudburst!).
Two days later I took my folding bike back to the trail (Sue was working), and rode the whole trail (and yes, was rained on again!). But this trail is wonderful, the surface is a good hard pack now (someone said it was bad in a previous review). There was some grass growing through on the northern portion, but the trail was still excellent in my opinion.
Starting in Newport (parking available for the trail at the adjacent hospital - there are signs), the trail runs through a wooded section for about a mile, then opens up to wonderful views of Lake Memphremagog and the distant mountains of Vermont and Canada. There are several homes, but most of them are on the east side of the trail away from the shore, even though they do have their cabanas, docks, gazebos etc on the west side of the trail. The last mile becomes a mix of woods and fields until you reach the end of the trail at North Derby Road.
At the end of the trail, you have the option to turn right and head to the Border Station in Derby and continue your ride into Canada onto the 19km Tomifobia Nature Rail-Trail in Quebec - the trail is the same railroad bed as the Beebe Spur Trail, as a matter of fact, the trail is straight ahead just 100 feet through the overgrowth at the end of the Beebe Spur Trail - but you must go to the Border Check Station (there's a sign with the needed info at the end of the Beebe Spur Trail)
Overall, it's a short trail - but what a variety it offers, just watch out for those rain showers - I was rained on both days!
This trail has fantastic scenery along Lake Memphremagog. It is relatively flat - especially by Vermont standards. There aren't any services along the way, except when you are in downtown Newport if you take the southern extension of this trail. My only gripe is that the trail could use some work. I felt that I was risking a flat tire on my hybrid bike. The final segment as you head north has lots of grass growing in the center, and looks like it will be for mountain bikes only in a year or two.
This (along with two other trails over the border) make for a great (and relatively easy) 1/2 day trip. I'm fascinated by the US/Canada border in this area, so it's a ride I planned for awhile. Here is a description of the 30-mile ride I took this week - PASSPORT REQUIRED:
Although the trail "officially" starts in downtown Newport, I wanted to shave a couple of miles off the start so I could do more in Canada. For my trip, I parked at North County Hospital on Prouty Rd. (Newport). Trail starts 200 feet east. Pick up the gravel trail heading north by Lake Mephremagog. Good conditions for Hybrid and trail bike tires. At the end of the trail, you're at the border. You'll see a Canada customs sign pointing you to the right. Although Canada is across the road from the end of the Newport trail, and you could literally walk in, you aren't allowed to cross here. So, take a right onto the paved North Derby Rd. for approx. 2 miles to the end, then left where there is a legal border crossing station.
Pass through Canadian customs. Take a quick, few-hundred foot detour, east from the Customs house for a photo of Canusa St. dividing the US/Canada. Then back to the customs station and a right (north) following Rt. 247 for about 3/4 mile, past a large "Rediker" stone and a couple of banks, until you see the Tomifobia Nature Trail heading off to the right. (Check out the trail's website for good maps). The first mile of this 19-km trail isn't too scenic but it gets better very quickly.
I went about 5 miles down the trail, then turned around and came back to the marked road barrier at "Ch. de Stanstead" (Stanstead Rd.?). There's a pond to your right at this crossing. Left /southeast onto paved Ch. de Stanstead for about 2 miles to its end, then left (east) on Rue Maple. (This Stanstead/Maple road part is seriously uphill for a total of about 2.5 miles).
At the end of Rue Maple, you're in downtown Stanstead. Take a right (south) onto Rt. 143/Rue Dufferin heading back towards the US border. Just before the border, make a left on Boulevard Notre Dame, then a quick right on Baxter. A couple of blocks take you to the Haskell Library and Opera house, straddling the border. Park the bike on the Canadian side and walk around to the front door of the library which is on the US side. Make sure to take a tour for 5 bucks to see the opera house and the stripes on the floors that mark the border running through the building. When leaving the library, you have to immediately walk back into Canada (btw - that's where you left your bike).
From the library, go back north on Rue Church, 1/4 mile to Blvd. Notre Dame (Rt. 247) and take a left (west). Cross Rt. 143 (large stone fountain will be on your left). After a quick down-hill (1/4 mile), bear to the right on Rue Passenger, following black on white signs for "Piste Cyclable de Stanstead" bike trail . It's a little hard to find, so best to look at a Google Map before leaving the library to get familiar. Basically it's up a short hill on Rue Passenger than downhill left. You'll see the trail to the right at a power substation. It's less than 5 minutes from Library to this trail by bike.
Follow this bike trail about 2 miles until it crosses Rt. 247, about a 1/4 mile from the border station you where you entered Canada. Go left (south) on Rt. 247, through US customs, then a quick right at the post office to follow your way back on N. Derby Rd. to the Newport Trail and the start of the ride.
The Tomifobia and Newport trails are both loaded with beautiful sites. The final trail (Piste Cyclable Stanstead) is more functional than beautiful, but was in excellent condition (hard-packed dirt) and kept me off the main road (Rt. 247) just to the south of the trail.
Note: If you have more miles in you than I did, do the entire Tomifobia trail, which puts you in Ayers Cliff. Looks like a beautiful lake (Massawippi) is just NW of downtown Ayers Cliff. But this extension, down and back, will add another 15 miles to the ride I did/described above.
This is a GREAT trail. The mid July scenery offers wonderful views of Lake Memphremagog, wet lands (where I got pictures of a swimming duck and a croaking bull frog) to pastures abundent with wild flowers,to Vermont-green forests and exquisite flower gardens planted near the trail by the homes you'll pass along your way. The trail is flat the entire length and smooth enough for walking, biking or running (I don't recommend roller skates). I saw two women jogging while easily pushing a jogging stroller with baby on board. This trail is perfect for all ages, and especially safe for parents who are looking for a place to bring young children on bicycles. Toward the north end of the trail you'll find picnic tables. A covenant place to rest and enjoy a nourishing snack. I live in Lake Worth, Florida and get to enjoy my Derby home about twice a year. I can't wait to enjoy this trail in the autumn.
This is a great trail. I have biked it from Canada many times over the past three years. It is on an old railway line and in fact crosses the Canadian border and continues for another 15 miles north to Ayer's Cliff, a small village at the south end of Lake Massawippi in Quebec, Canada.
Unfortunately, you can not cross the border on the trail. You have to ride approximately two miles east along the road at the north end of the trail to a border crossing in the village of Beebe, Quebec, then ride a mile up the main street of Beebe (wide street, very little traffic) to where you reconnect with the trail. The trail then follows the Tomifobia River to Ayer's cliff. The Canadian portion of the trail alternates from river bank to deep woods to open fields and ponds.
Michael, August 19, 2008
Me and my girlfriend stumbled upon this trail while on business in Newport, Vermont. What an awesome hike! You can hike all the way to Canada! It follows the lake most of the way, so the views are outstanding. You will also run into a stretch of a few homes right off the trail. A very friendly dog, and later a cat -- decided to follow us for part of the hike. Highly recommended.
This is a great trail. It runs along Lake Memphremagog for most of the trip. We've used the trail for several years.
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