LAFS Radar Base Day Trip

Ginger and Darren set out to explore the abandoned roads that lead to the top of East Mountain and Radar Rd. One of the most unique destinations in Vermont also serves as one of the more difficult climbs in Vermont.

Early morning is best for this ride. We didn’t see a single person on our way up, we did run into some folks at the top and a few on our way back down. If we had even been an hour earlier I don’t think we would have seen anyone.
We parked at a small pull off on School Street/Mountain Road/Radar Road (depending on what map you are looking at and how far down the road you have driven).

We parked at the gate just north of East Burke on Mountain Rd. The gate has a sign that says Keep Out. The gate is not locked and many locals have opened and driven through it. It’s clear the gate is to make sure it’s a locals only kind of spot. There were a couple of cabins and Vermont “camp” sites after the gate. Radar Rd. is a federally owned right of way, technically blocking access to the road is illegal.

From here there is a short ride up to the first gate. This gate says keep out, it is over a public right of way, which in Vermont is technically illegal to impede the public right of way. This is why the gate is not locked. This section of the road is not private land.
The sign and the gate serve as a way to keep the amount of traffic down and hopefully keep away would be trouble makers of the motorized kind. We met a few locals who were servicing their camps on the ride who seemed quite friendly and happy to see us out on bikes.

This first section of Radar Rd. is a mix of the old paved road and graveled over surface. Towards the top of the first climb is a staging area for the gravel upkeep of the logging roads used on the land. The land that is home to the LAFS Radar base is owned by a logging company. They are more than permissive about allowing non motorized recreation on their land and the few workers we did see were friendly enough to wave. Respect their friendly nature and leave no trace.

VAST maintain several trails through the wilderness on East Mountain. Looks like they leave their signs up all year, which is pretty helpful if someone wanted to explore more of the area…

After the first climb there is a longer, easy descent that will at times seem flat. At the bottom of this descent is the left turn that is the private portion of Radar Rd. It’s a 4 mile climb to the top that will be as steep as 18% at times and sustaining sections of 12% and 15% grade. It is not technical however it is steep.

About a third of the way up is a nice rest stop before the real difficult stuff. The housing for those stationed at the base is the most frequently visited as it is still accessible by car. There are usually a couple of cars parked here. Usually by people who have come to hike the road to the top. We didn’t see a single person on the way up, however we did see a group at the top and met a couple of people on our way back down.

Someone takes care of this place as the pavement was super clean.

It would be amazingly difficult to get lost, especially from this point as it is all paved road from here. There is a group that takes care of the base and cleans up. They do an amazing job. We recommend at least picking up and taking one piece of litter back down with you when you leave. Do not enter the buildings, do not move anything, do not touch anything. Simply look. There is so much to see up here. The views are incredible. For me, the ride up and back down were far more magnificent than the actual top. It truly is one of those places where the journey can be just as rewarding as the destination.

After the Bunk Houses the real climbing begins. The road narrows as nature is slowly overtaking the road from the sides. There were no trees down across the road the whole ride up.
A short rest on the way up. It’s a hard climb.
There are a couple of spots that offer some great views and serve as a nice break. I’m sure we’ll be taking breaks.

Here is a map of the ride. Click the map for access to the GPS file and more details.

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