While the West gets a lot of the media when it comes to mountain biking, Vermont is one of the biggest draws toward mountain biking in the East. The highest peak in Vermont caps out at 4,395 feet, but despite not having huge mountain ranges, Vermont takes mountain biking to a whole new level. People travel from all over the World to see what Vermonters have created, in some cases, literally in their own backyards.
1. Kingdom MTB Trails – The Jewel of VT Mountain Biking
The Kingdom Trail System is a Vermont mountain biker’s crown jewel. The trails are known by people far and wide and the trails see over 100,000 visitors each year. I know people who have moved across the country to live with the Kingdom trails nearby.
The Kingdom trails are over 100 miles of singletrack trails designed for beginner to expert use. The trails are smooth and fast. They twist and turn and undulate. They don’t have very many long and extensive climbs, but instead allow a rider to focus on carrying momentum and changing speeds.
With so many trails to chose from, it’s difficult to highlight just a few. Here are some of the most famous trails in the Kingdom Trail System:
- Tap and Die: Tap and Die is a black trail but it great for both intermediate and expert riders alike. The trail is extremely fast and is very flowy with a few rocks and roots for good measure. This trail is so popular that on a busy weekend, people will literally line up for a chance to ride it.
- Sidewinder: Sidewinder is arguably the Kingdom Trail System’s most iconic trail. It zig-zags down a steep gully. You will need to use speed and momentum to climb high up on the sides of the gully and then plummet down the other side. This trail is famous for the g-forces that riders experience as they fly down the trail.
- Kitchel: Kitchel was one of the first trails ever built in the Kingdom Trail System. It is fast and hard packed with lots of swooping turns.
Pro Tip: Most of the Kingdom trails are featured on YouTube so if you are taking the time to travel to these trails, do your homework first!
Where are the Kingdom Trails:
The Kingdom Trails are located in Northern Vermont in East Burke. Most all of the trails are on private property. More than 90 landowners have come together to make the trails available to the public. It costs $15 to ride the Kingdom trails. The money is put toward creating more trails and maintaining the existing ones. There are six designated parking areas that are available. The trails are open from May-October and a select few re-open in the winter for fat biking.
Bike Shops Supporting the Kingdom MTB Trails:
East Burke is a mountain bike town, which means that the entire community comes together in the support of mountain biking. There are a few different bike shops to pick from. Here are just two options:
East Burke Sports: This shop is located right at the trail head. It is a perfect option for last minute repairs and equipment needs. Open 7 days a week from 9 am- 6 pm https://eastburkesports.com/contact/
Village Sports Shop: This shop is just 2 miles away from the trailhead. Open Monday-Saturday 9am-6 pm and Sunday 9am-5 pm. https://www.villagesportshop.com/contact/
2. Green Mountain Trails – 28 Mountain Bike Trails
The Green Mountain Trail System has 28 different trails with about 22 miles of singletrack. The trails have an equal amount of opportunity for beginners and experts alike. Most of the trails feature forgiving and mild climbs with smooth, flowy, and fast descents. The climbs and descents can last up to six miles though for riders looking for longer, sustained efforts. There are over 100 downhill bermed switchbacks designed specifically for mountain bikers to enjoy. The system is especially known for its incredible panoramic views.
- Labyrinth: This trail is very unique in the system. While most of the trails are smooth and fast, Labyrinth is the rootiest and roughest of trails in the Green Mountain System. The turns are tight and will require great precision and bike handling ability.
- Rabbit Hole: The Rabbit Hole trail begins on a wider trail with a few whoops to help you warm up. After a short climb, the trail dives into a loamier section with spruce trees. The trail is fast with some smooth turns and a couple of surprises.
- Zebedee: This blue trail adds a small loop and is the perfect add on to any ride in the Green Mountain System. It has lots of tight twists and turns, berms, and whoops. You’ll probably end up wanting to do a few laps of this looped trail.
Pro Tip: Many of these trails are in highly forested areas with lots of tree cover. Keep in mind that it will get dark earlier in the day. If you plan to ride these trails after 3 pm then you will need to bring a light.
Where are the Green Mountain Trails:
The Green Mountain Trails are located in Northern-Central Vermont in Pittsfield. There are a few parking areas, most of which are located off of highway 100. In the wetter seasons you will likely have to walk across a river to access the trails from this direction. You can also access the trails via a parking lot off of Tweed River Dr. The trails are free for public use.
Bike Shops Supporting the Green Mountain Trails:
Green Mountain Bikes: Green Mountain Bikes is located 11 miles away from the trailhead and is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm. https://www.greenmountainbikes.com/
Speedy’s: This shop has been open since 2001 and is 15 miles away from the trailhead in Hancock, Vermont. Their website is currently under construction but you can visit their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/pg/speedysBAbikes/about/
3. Killington Bike Park – Downhill Mountain Biking
Killington Bike Park is New England’s fastest growing downhill mountain bike park. It has 58 trails with over 30 miles to ride and explore. The bike park utilizes three different lifts that cater to beginners, intermediate, and expert riders. Some of the trails have mandatory drops and large technical features, whereas others offer a smooth riding experience for people just learning how to navigate downhill terrain.
Pro Tip: While it is tempting to check out all of the trails that the bike park has to offer, try riding the same trail a few times in a row instead. You will be surprised at how much confidence you can gain and how quickly you can improve.
Black Magic: This is a black trail. It is a freeride jump trail. The trail consists of large table top style jumps that get bigger and bigger as you ride down the hill. Tabletops are a great way to practice jumps since the consequence of coming up short is much less severe than gap jumps.
Krusty: Krusty is a great intermediate trail. It goes through a forest of roots and big berms. It has a good variety of fast and flowy sections along with precision riding through technical and pedally sections.
Step it Up: Step it up is a good beginner or intermediate trail. The trail is wide with big berms. If you are more skilled you can increase the pace to increase the challenge, but if you are nervous you can ride slowly and gain confidence.
Where is Killington Bike Park?
Killington Bike Park is located in Killington, Vermont. It is open for mountain biking from late May until late October. A one day pass is $60, two days is $100, three days is $125 and a season long pass is $439. When you arrive at Killington, there will be 5 different free parking areas to choose from. Beginners should park at the Ramshed Lodge or at Skyeship Lodge. Intermediate and expert riders can pick from K-1 Lodge, Bear Lodge, or the Snowshed Lodge. In addition to mountain biking you will have plenty of amenities to capitalize on including restaurants, bars, rentals, and live music.
Bike Shops Supporting Killington Bike Park:
Alpine Bike Works: This shop is less than 5 miles from the bike park. It is classified as Killington’s premiere bike shop. They are open Tuesday-Thursday from 10 am-5:30, Friday and Saturday from 9am-5:30, and Sunday from 9 am – 4pm. https://alpinebikeworks.com/
True Wheels Bike Shops: This shop is less than 2 miles away from the bike park. It is open 7 days a week from 8:15 am- 6:00pm. https://www.basinski.com/our-stores/
4. Pine Hill Park – Trails for All Skills of MTB Riding
Pine Hill Park has 67 trails and offers 16 miles of riding. The trails at Pine Hill Park connect to Redfield and the Carriage Trails to expand the riding and offer an additional 10 miles. The trail system offers green, blue, and black trails so that riders of all abilities can enjoy this system. There are fireroad and singletrack trails available for use.
With a total of 1,200 feet of climbing and descending throughout the system the climbs are short and sweet, but the descends manage to roll and carry momentum. For riders looking for more challenging terrain there are trails with significant rock slabs and rock gardens.
The trails are well maintained and volunteers are constantly adding new trails and signs.
- Stegosaurus: This is the most technical trail at Pine Hill Park. There are multiple narrow bridges. Some of the bridges meander and require a precise and confident riding style.
- Santa’s Little Helper: This is a flat trail and is a great way to transverse across the park and see the terrain. There are a few challenging obstacles, but because it is flat it is a great trail for a beginner. Walk any sections that appear too challenging and over time you might gain the skills to attempt it.
- Underdog: This is a fun and windy downhill trail. The main feature on the trail is a small wall ride. It is large enough to have fun and go fast, but mild enough that a beginner can work up to it.
Pro Tip: When riding always slow down prior to riding across bridges. The bridges will be more slippery and hold moisture longer than the trails.
Where is Pine Hill Park:
Pine Hill Park is located in Southern Vermont in Rutland. The best place to park is at the Giorgetti Athletic Complex off of Oak St. Ext. Parking is free and trail access is free. The trails are open for both summer use and for fat bikes in the winter. You can check the current trail conditions at this website: www.trailhub.org.
Bike Shops Supporting Pine Hill Park:
Col’ Cycling: This bike shop is located less than 2 miles from the trailhead. They are open Monday-Saturday from 10am- 6pm and Sunday from 10am-4:30 pm. For more information you can visit their Facebook page. https://m.facebook.com/colcycling/
Green Mountain Cyclery: Located less than 2 miles from the trailhead, this shop is open Monday-Saturday from 10am-6pm. https://www.greenmtncyclery.com/
5. Mt. Snow Bike Park – Days Worth of MTB Trails
The Mount Snow Bike Park is located in the Southwest corner of Vermont in Dover. It has 15 different downhill mountain bike trails to explore. They range from beginner to expert in level. In fact, it is home to Trail 7 which is the longest introductory downhill trail in the East. Meanwhile, for more experienced riders, they have been busy adding berms, ladders, and other man-made features.
A one day, two day, three day or four day pass start from as low as $13, $48, $73, and $93, respectively. Prices increase depending on the time of year and availability. The lifts are open for mountain biking Thursday-Sunday in September and October.
6. Perry Hill Trails – 14 MTB Trails to Explore
Perry Hill Trails has 14 different trails and about 15 miles of riding to explore. All throughout the system you can work up to 3,000 feet of climbing so make sure you bring your climbing legs and a strong set of lungs.
The trails are primarily intermediate in nature with some fireroad sections that beginners would feel comfortable on. There are also a few challenging sections that might be a bit intimidating to a true intermediate rider.
The trails are tight and twisty with lots of rocks and roots to navigate. The steep roll-downs might appear difficult, but with a dropper post and some courage can be a lot of fun!
You will park off of River Rd and take the doubletrack trail to cross the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.
Pro Tip: When riding roots ride them perpendicularly. You are less likely to slide on them if you hit them at a 90 degree angle.
7. Cady Hill’s Forest Expert Loop – Riding UP and FLYING DOWN
The Cady Hill Forest has 35 different mountain bike trails to ride on. It is located in Stowe, Vermont and offers a good variety of riding with most of the area being heavily forested and exploding with different colors of green.
The best way to experience all of what the Cady Hill’s Forest has to offer is by riding the Expert Loop. This loop is 6.6 miles with just over 800 feet of climbing and descending. The trail has some challenging climbs, while boasting of fast descents down trails lined with lush plants and a few root gardens that could catch a new rider off guard. The entire loop will take a fast rider about an hour to complete, but the average trail user will take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours for the whole route.
Pro Tip: Depending on how hard you are going, you want to consume about 200 calories or 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour that you are riding. Make sure to pack food with you!
8. Millstone Hill – MTB Trails in a Quarry
The Millstone Hill trail network has 53 trails and over 20 miles of challenging mountain biking terrain. The trails utilize 1,500 acres to create this network of trails located in Barre, Vermont.
The area is most known for its quarries that create roll ins that will make your heart race a little bit. The trails are littered with features both built and natural. The granite creates drop-offs and the Millstone Trail Association has created berms and flowy sections in between the challenging roots and rocks.
9. Ascutney Trails – A Trail with Natural Features
This trail system is located in Bownsville, Vermont and has been called Vermont’s premiere recreational trail network. There are over 35 miles of trails built by mountain bikers for mountain bikers.
Despite the trails being located at Ascutney Mountain resort, they are free of charge. You can access the trails via Ski Tow Trailhead or for more challenging trails you can park and ride from the Windsor Town Forest Trailhead. The trails offer switchback climbs, rock gardens, bridges, berms, and ‘old school’ technical features. The State Forest Trailhead is a less common place to start your ride but is great for kids or family rides.
Pro Tip: These trails have great trail markings, but purchasing a map at Climb Fitness Center would still be helpful so that you can match the trail name to the difficulty level described on the map.
10. Catamount Family Outdoor Center – Classic Mountain Bike Trails
Catamount has been hosting mountain bikers since the early beginnings of the sport in the 1980s. The trails have a little bit of everything: singletrack, doubletrack, flat, hilly, and even some pump tracks to sharpen your skills.
In addition to great trails, Catamount also offers food, events, rentals, and is even host to an international mountain bike competition. You can purchase a day pass for $10 or purchase a membership for $75. The trails remain open for as long as the weather conditions allow. For more information and trail updates you can visit the website: http://catamountoutdoorfamilycenter.org/summer-rates/
11. Hinesburg Town Forest – A Great MTB Network
This trail network is for advanced riders only. The trails have some big and steep climbs with lots of man-made obstacles to challenge yourself. There are 18 miles of trails at this system in Hinesburg, Vermont. There are four distinct parking areas which allow access to each corner of the park.
Finding Hinesburg Town Forest MTB Trails
Get a copy of the trail map HERE (download .pdf) Man-made trails with plenty of skill obstacles.
Pro Tip: When riding on wet or slippery roots, ride closer to the tree trunk where the roots come together. It is easier to ride the roots when they are in a bundle rather than spread out.
12. Sugarbrush Bike Park – Lift MTBing
Sugarbrush Bike Park is located in Northwestern Vermont in Warren. It offers 28 lift-serviced trails most of which cater to the intermediate rider with a few more challenging ones to keep the advanced rider plenty entertained. The trails are high speed with some challenging obstacles that will force you to slow down and ride with caution or at least a very focused effort.
A one day pass costs $45 and a season pass costs $254. In addition to the downhill access, there are ziplines, disc golf, and scenic lift rides available as well.
Pro Tip: As you descend down a difficult trail focus on pushing your weight down through your heels and flexing your feet.
13. Blueberry Lake Trails Beginner Downhill MTB
If you are a beginner rider and not yet ready to experience downhill mountain biking then instead of riding at Sugarbrush Bike Park, you can ride at the Blueberry Lake Trails which are also in Warren. There are 5 miles of smooth built trails just for beginners. There are no rocks or roots to steer you off of your path, but if you look at the beautiful views too long you might start to swerve.
Clubs and Groups Supporting Mountain Biking in Vermont:
Without big mountains located all over Vermont, the state had to put their efforts together to build amazing trails themselves. Here are some of the groups that we should thank for their efforts:
Vermont Mountain Bike Association: VMBA is a non-profit organization that works through 26 unified chapters to cement the future of mountain biking in Vermont and throughout the Northeast. https://vmba.org/
Women on Wheels in Wissahickon: This group works to spread the love of mountain biking in Vermont. They lead a multi-level no drop ride every week. You can learn more on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/182382368972190
Kingdom Trail Association: This group works to make the Kingdom trails available for all users. They do this through the education of visitors and residents as well as through conservation of resources. https://kingdomtrails.org/
Mountain Bike Parks in Vermont:
Vermont has so many manmade features on their trails that is seems many of the skills parks are actually integrated into the trails. In order to take best advantage of the features, try sessioning them and riding them over and over again.
If you are looking for a bit more focus, then here are a few options:
- Johnson Skate Park and Bike Track: This is a free of charge park that has a mountain bike pump track and other mountain bike terrain for a variety of skill levels. http://townofjohnson.com/boards/skatepark-committee/
- Maple Street Bike Park: Located in Essex, Vermont this park has a pump track and four different jump lines. http://www.essexrec.org/bike-park.html
- Ideride Jump Park: This park is actually located in someone’s backyard. He generously allows people to request to ride and practice skills on his well build jump lines. https://www.ideride.com/trail
Why Mountain Bike Vermont?
Vermont is a hidden gem in the mountain bike community. While many people know Vermont for the Kingdom trails, few people know of the other networks that Vermont has to offer. It takes a little bit of digging to try to find all of the opportunities, but once you find them you might never want to leave.