Who: Mountain bikers of any skill level looking for an epic bike trip for a long weekend
Where: The Kingdom Trails, Burke, VT
What: My ride was 18mi with 2,000ft of elevation gain on mostly xc single track, but the expansive trail system allows for rides of varied distances and terrains
The Route: https://www.strava.com/activities/1726015588
On a chilly spring evening, the idea of taking a long weekend trip to ride some awesome mountain bike trails was born. Most mountain bikers have been there, dreaming of taking a day off of work to shred with some friends. I had visited Vermont before to ski, but I was dying to see what those rocks that I always saw covered in snow were like under some knobby rubber. In July, I hit the road and started the journey to the mountains of Vermont.
If you ask around or even make a quick search on the internet for trails in New England to ride, the resounding recommendation is the Kingdom Trails in Burke, VT. Nestled in the Green Mountains, this is a maintained trail system featuring 68.2mi and 85 trails. The Kingdom trails are mainly XC, but if you make the trek up to Vermont with your downhiller friends, the Burke Mountain Bike Park is within riding distance and would keep them happy.
When you arrive, the staff at the Welcome center will have you sign a waiver and then give you a trail map. After telling the staff about what I was looking for in a ride, they helped me plan out a route that would keep me challenged and happy on the trails. Paying for the day pass ($15) is well worth the money because the trails are well maintained, clearly marked, and rad.
From the Welcome Center parking lot, we headed out and up a climb. At the top of the climb we stopped and looked back at the mountains and valley and took in the breathtaking view. There is a bike shop just a few hundred yards from the top of the climb. Aside from having bike parts and a mechanic, the shop also has coffee and beer.
After stopping at the shop for a quick derailleur repair, we began to descend into the valley on the other side of the ridge. We veered to the right which opens up three options for descending: Troll Stroll, Tap & Die, and Tody’s Tour. Of the three, I found Tap & Die to be the most challenging and the most fun. The three descents are fast, flowy switchbacks littered with roots to keep you engaged. I recommend climbing back up a trail called Burrington Bench and taking some laps of these sick descents, but that may just be because I enjoy the pain of climbing as much as the thrill of going downhill.
Feeling the burn in our legs from climbing and hands from descending, we headed south towards the what was to be the raddest trail of the day: sidewinder. Near the top of Sidewinder is a cabin with sandwiches, just in case your granola bars and hydration pack aren’t cutting it. Imagine a halfpipe made of “brown pow” or the biggest, steepest river whoops of your life; that’s Sidewinder. It’s one of those trails that is so fun it actually made me yell “wahoo!!”
One of the best parts of this trail system is that it gives you options. There is almost always a beginner, intermediate, and expert option to get anywhere. On the way back to the car, we decided to jump onto East Branch. I recommend this trail if you want some real singletrack for a challenge; it was my favorite trail of the day. The last trail we took was Kitchel. This trail is a great way to end the ride on some berms and rollable jumps.
We finished the day with a cup of cold brew coffee at the bike shop, looking out over the green valley and mountains. This trail system is big enough that you could ride another day without riding the same trail twice. Other recommendations I have would be to stay in Burlington. The drive to the trails from there is only about two hours and gorgeous, plus the town of Burlington has fantastic restaurant options. You could even finish your day there watching the sunset over Lake Champlain. On the way back from the trails, the GPS took us on Vermont Route 108, which goes through a beautiful mountain pass through Smugglers Notch State Park. Vermont is dotted with waterfalls, but one of the best is along this road, called Bingham Falls. After a hard mountain bike ride, swimming in a cool mountain waterfall is exactly what we wanted!
I can’t recommend this ride enough if you’re looking for a destination ride. Write it down on your ride bucket list and get there one day. Come on in or call the shop if you have any questions or want more recommendations!
Ginny at Twenty20