Posted by: bikenfool | May 15, 2010

The Kingdom Trails

Wish list…
I have two goals. The first is to ride as much as I can, road or mountain, it doesn’t matter just so long as I’m moving. The second is to take a couple of trips each year to ride in really cool destinations. On the list of places:
Mountain Biking:

  • Moab, Utah
  • Kingdom Trails, Vermont
  • Whistler, British Columbia
  • Various locations in England
  • Various locations in Switzerland

Road:

  • Wine country, California Coast
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Various legs of the Tour deFrance

Last year I was able to ride Moab and was simply blown away. The scenery, the terrain, the people, it’s the real deal as an epic place to ride. This year Tim and had planned The Kingdom Trails in northern Vermont. The Kingdom Trails are located in Burke Vermont and offer about a hundred miles of some of the best riding in the country. The ski resort at Burke Mountain now offers down hill adventures during the summer months if the XC trails aren’t enough of an adrenaline rush for you. Now the thing you gotta understand about The Kingdom Trails is that it started out with a couple of guys cutting trails across hill and dale for fun. Years later it’s one of the top rides in the country.

bikenfool havin some fun...

Road Trip…
Getting to Burke was pretty easy from Cape Cod. Tim and I left at O-Dark Thirty as the ride was about 4.5 hours and we wanted a full afternoon of dicing and slicing through the tall pines of North Country. The Jeep Unlimited is such a great hauler for trips like this. It’s about as aero dynamic as a shoe box but it does hold two mountain bikes, all our gear and a couple of days worth of clothes.

The Unlimited Packed-up

Yuck...

Lots of dead bugs and four plus hours later we arrived at our destination. Sprawling farms covered in bright green make the landscape look like a patchwork quilt. Passing through Lyndonville, a small town with all the charm you would expect from rural New England, we arrived at East Burke Sports, our starting point for the day. It was there that Tim and I met up with another friend, Tim, who was joining us for two day of fun. Tim is a manager of an Eastern Mountain Sports store and is the poster boy for outdoor activity. The last time I rode with Tim he busted his chain and derailleur at Otis and had to hoof it out. Anyway, the three of us picked up our tickets for the day at the Kingdom Trail Office. The cost is $10 per day per rider. The nice gentleman at the office was kind enough to outline two days worth riding, about 40 miles on the map.

The route...

Time to explore The Kingdom…
The ride up was sunny and 75 but the local weather forecast called for thunder, lightning and even hail. As the Tim’s and I were unloading seriously dark clouds loomed dangerously close and the rumble of thunder in the distance made the hair on my neck stand up. Never the less we left East Burke Sports and wound our way up Darling Hill Road to the trail head. Darling Hill Road is a great warm-up as it is seriously step and sure gets your blood pumping. At the end of this mile climb you are greeted with The Inn at Mountain View Farm, which is simply a beautiful venue to start the trails. Although there is parking there, it was suggested that we park at the bottom and ride up. We would find out later why…

Nice Start....

Heading out...

The sheer volume of trails is staggering however they are exceptionally well marked and the map provided was very accurate. Our route took us through some pretty amazing trails and the surfaces were in great shape considering it was only the beginning of May. Most of the trails had a great flow to them and on this day there were no major technical sections at least by my book. Tim “The Man” led with me second and EMS Tim sweeping up.

Chasing Tim...

Noah is that you???
We were really haulin ass through the trails and just loving every minute of it. I had a smile from ear to ear, ok the bugs were taking advantage of that but I didn’t care. We made quick time through Coronary Bypass, Pastore Point Loop and Pastore Point. One of the first honorable mentions was Tap & Die, just a smoking fast, twisty and flowing trail. My face hurt from smiling so much on this one!

Varied Trails...

Covering The Webs, River Run and Dry Feet, the weather began to catch up to us. Dark grey clouds had blanketed the sky. Thunder rumbled like a rock band tuning up for a show. Then finally it happened, the skies opened up and it began to pour. Determined not to let this stop us we forged on at a much slower pace. Wet roots and rocks made for some pretty hairy situations not to mention being in the middle of a pasture when the rumble of thunder and crack of lighting made me question my better judgment. Rain or not we still smoked through the tall pines at Old Webs, once again I was grinning like a giddy school girl as I pushed the S-Works to its limits.

Motley Crew...

At just a little over half way through the loop the rain was relentless. EMS Tim and I had brought rain jackets but Tim “The Man” had not. The temps had been warm when the sun was out but with the thick clouds and rain it was bone chilling. I had put my rain jacket on over my Camelpak and zipped it all the way up and this did a reasonable job at shedding some of the water. However, like the mighty Mississippi River at flood plain, water poured down my helmet carrying salty sweat into my eyes. Not only could I not see but my eyes were stinging like hell! Never the less we pushed on. At one point I could feel a significant amount of water moving from my toes to my heal as I peddled fiercely.

Smoking through Old Pines

Covering Knob, Sugar Hill, Rim and East Branch we were 16 miles in at about 2.5 hours of riding and over an hour in monsoon conditions. As we approached the last trail, Kitchel, we were tired, soaking wet, cold and pretty much covered from head to toe in mud. Kitchel is another “Honorable Mention” trail sporting an amazing series of seriously fast berms and jumps on a darn near vertical slope. Thank god the rain had let up to a moderate drizzle, so we made this last trail count. The g-forces in the off camber berms were absolutely amazing and when coupled with the feeling of weightlessness caused by the jumps, really made a great end to this ride. The trail spilled out at the bottom of Darling Hill Road and thank god it did as I doubt we could have made it back to the top parking!

Hammering...

As we approached East Burke Sports, we looked like something the cat dragged in covered in mud, soaking wet with odd grinding sounds coming from our bikes, or was that our bodies? Making our way back to the parking area at East Burke Sports, we passed Chappy’s Ice Cream and a strategically placed hose. Wanting to get  our gear and bikes cleaned off, I figured I ask if we could borrow their hose. Even though I looked dirty, dread locked and maimed, the owner at Chappy’s was incredibly accommodating, stating that the hose was there just for that reason. After hosing off the bikes and various body parts, we loaded up as the skies opened up again.

Motley Crew...

Home Sweet Home…

Our accommodations for the night were at The Lynburke Motel, just minutes from the trails. The motel is nothing fancy but worked as a base of operations and more importantly a place to lay our weary heads. Dinner was at The Pub Outback a great watering hole. Lots of good food and a few cocktails later and we were feeling much better. All in all, it was an epic and memorable day covering about 18+ miles of grueling trails.

Mi Casa...

Round two…
As the sun pierced the morning fog, water drops glistened on the Jeep. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we headed to the Lyndonville Diner for breakfast. Our goal was to be on the trails by 10:00am. After fueling up with a Big Boy breakfast, we made our way to the parking area at East Burke Sports.

The Tim & Tim Show...

Déjà vu?
Our legs burned once again as we pushed up Darling Hill Road toward today’s 18+ mile loop. I was feeling pretty good and definitely stoked to dice it up again and with out rain! My start was a tough one however, as the trails were damp, wet even and the initial miles would see me doing down more than a hooker on a Friday night. Wet roots became my nemesis causing my tires to slide out multiple times and me to get better acquainted with the Vermont soil. Yeh, it hurt. We proceeded to ride Pound Cake, Fence Line and Bog Meadow at a slower pace than I wanted but with a heavy dose of humble.

On the trail again...

Grinding it out through Coronary, Cat Box Hill and River Run we kept a cautious yet moderate pace as the wet roots would have me kissing the carpet a few more times. Damn that’s the most I have fallen in my MBT career! Ok, tired legs and new peddles didn’t help but damn. Chewing through the miles we came to Tody’s Tour, a smoking trail very similar to Tap & Die that left us pumped.  EMS Tim Peel off at the half way mark trying to make it to work by 5:00pm leaving Tim “The Man” and I to push on.

Technically speaking...the root of all evil or at least my elbow pain...

Roller coaster…
As the ground dried up, our pace increased but fatigue was setting in at the 12 mile mark. Todays loop definitely had more elevation gain. Turn by turn, we sliced through country side to the next “Honorable Mention” trail called Sidewinder.

Where are we?

As we entered Sidewinder, Tim and I were riding in tight formation, wheel to wheel like two fighter planes mimicking movements. I followed him closely with my eyes glued to his back wheel as terrain began to slope away. Our bikes glided almost silently through the thick forest with our pace continuing to quicken. Making our way deeper into the woods, we had no idea what was in store for us.

Sidewinder

Seemingly out of no where, the ground disappeared and a slight grade turned vertical. Our pace doubled as the scenery blurred and Tim’s bike looked like the Starship Enterprise going to warp speed. I really was not paying attention to what was down the trail so this really took me by surprise.

Sidewinder

Sidewinder was Gods own roller coaster offering up a series of six plus vertical berms that had to be 15 to 30 feet high. Speed coupled with the steep slopes created some amazing g-forces that felt incredible. Tim and I stayed wheel to wheel through the entire run. The last berm had a killer jump/drop but alas neither of us had the balls to hit it. As we came to rest at the end, we were blown away and much like a ride at Disney, we were ready to go round again. The second trip down was just as good.

Follow the leader...

Technically…
Yesterdays loop wasn’t very technical however, todays loop proved to be. There were lots of rocks roots and really cool wooden paths over marshes, mud and water. The wooden paths were cool and some were pretty long. You really have to commit to these; having a good line and balance is critical. We tracked through Old Webs, Boarder and Jaw, which was pretty technical especially given then mud and wet roots. Most trails were reasonably challenging and when combined with the elevation gains, I was feeling it at the 14 mile mark. Sugar Hill Ridge and Bill Magill led us to Pines Riverwood and Beat Bog. At that point, tired of power bars and Cliff Blocs, we were slowing down as we approached the final trail. We wound out the ride with a smoking ride down Kichel. Damn that trail is fun!

Cool...

Cooler...

Cooler...

Our trip to Kingdom Trails had us covering about forty miles and thirty some odd trails. It was well worth the trip, my only regret is not having more time or maybe more endurance or maybe both? Achy, muddy, tired and slightly bruised but grinning ear to ear, I long for the next my next trip back to The Kingdom.

By the numbers...

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Responses

  1. Hi, im thinking of riding the trails next week. would you suggest going there for two days or one? thanks!

    • Definately suggest two days. There are just so many trails. We did about 16-18 miles each day. Say hi to Sidewinder for me and have fun!


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