An All-Day Epic at Kingdom Trails
4 Sep 2014
We probably got more than we bargained for here. After weeks of gravity assisted riding on DH bikes, we have to admit to the fact that our physical condition was not optimized for hours in the saddle on long XC trail rides. But we pushed on in any case, determined to see as much of the Kingdom Trail network as we could! Heading out on the trails for a second day of pedaling, we were joined by an awesome crew of local riders from the KTA and Burke Mountain Bike Park. While loading up the shuttle rig, we got to poke around the Kingdom Trails tool-shed & work-shop for a glimpse into the daily grind of maintaining such a huge network of trails.
Tools of the trade - can build a lot of trails with these!
Typically, you wouldn’t want or need to shuttle KT trails, but we did-so to cover as much ground as possible while getting some good photo & video content along the way. Trail-crew boss CJ Scott hooked us up with the shuttle rig and served as our guide for the day. CJ and everyone we spoke to said we must-ride the “3 T’s” - Troll Stroll, Tap & Die, and Tody’s Tour. Also, a must-ride are the trails Jaw & Pines. They are the more technical trails with occasional small features to keep you focused. For us, the Pines trail provided the most excitement with its technical rock spine to negotiate, berms to rail, a small wall-ride, and a couple of small jumps to finish.
Getting deeper in to the KT network!
The little village of East Burke has everything you need for a longer stay here. We’ve already mentioned the bike shop, but there are two other focal points that you’ll almost certainly visit. The Northeast Kingdom Country Store is a cracking little atmospheric old-town café with awesome freshly made sandwiches, pizza, salads etc, plus a gift shop and even a wine cellar. It’s worth grabbing a sandwich for your camelbak before heading out on the trails. And then there’s Chappy’s Ice Cream – a dolls-house looking building just by the bridge over the river that leads up Darling Hill. You can’t miss it – it’s bright yellow! Give their Aztec Shake a try if you’re brave enough.
The cute little ice cream store with awesome smoothier as well.
We spent a lot of time at Mike’s Tiki Bar around the back of the KTA office, not least because they have a selection of over 30 beers - road trips in Vermont rock! The setup there is awesome, a total rider chill out zone. There’s even showers if you want to clean up after coming off the trails before settling in to an evening of eating and drinking! To support the eating part, the Vermont Food Truck Company is parked right there, so you now have everything you need. And there’s even plans in the works to establish an RV park on the land behind the bar, giving yet another accommodation option in the area.
More beers at the Tiki Bar - just can't get enough.
We finally were able to meet up with the-man - the-myth, Knight Ide. He’s the guy responsible for the Burke Mountain Bike Park trail that bares his name “Knightslayer”, and many other advanced-technical trails in the area. Knight owns a local stone masonry company, and a trail-building business IdeRide, serving as a mentor to other aspiring trail builders in the area. The jumps he has built in his own backyard are legendary. And speaking of legends, it was Randy Spangler and Kyle Ebbett that Knight worked closely with during the building of Burke Bike Park. So we all owe a lot to Knight for all of his work and dedication to building perfect jump trails and flow up on Burke Mountain!
We would not have lasted the full day without the help of the shuttle!
There’s a huge riding community in the area and even in the week there are plenty of riders on the trails. With a growing female contingent, KT is doing its part to encourage more and more women to take up the sport. So Tuesday evening sees the weekly Women’s ride, which heads out at 6:30 from the Village Sport Shop (not East Burke Sports!). Turn left at the top of East Darling Hill Road and head about a mile south – it’s opposite the Wildflower Inn. We chatted to Carrie Tomczyk who coordinates the rides and is also co-owner of the shop. They can get up to 50 women on good week, so the ladies are separated according to riding ability, with these smaller groups heading out to trails more appropriate for their skills. Each group is led by a more experienced rider like Carrie, or Lil from KTA for example, so no one is out of depth or intimidated by the situation.
Meeting place for the Womens Rides - the Village Sport Shop on Darling Hill.
Heading off on the trails for a classic summer evening on bikes in Vermont!
Kingdom Trails is not resting on its laurels, and is already expanding for winter riding, developing trails specific for the growing Fat Bike market. And the launch and growth of Q-Burke Bike Park has given the region that added gravity element for riders, and this can only be a good thing. The Kingdom is surely one of the most idyllic riding spots in Vermont where anyone will find mountain bike trails that meet their needs. A true MTB mecca.
An XC paradise without constant 1,000 ft climbs. Maybe we can all handle a bit of this.
Inside the quaint Northeast county store - awesome sandwiches to be had!
At the start of one of the must-ride trails, Troll Stroll.
More essential shuttles for a weary crew determined to see everything!
The roots grow at head height in places!
There are a lot of trails so they need a lot of signposts!
The ladies gather for an evening trail ride.
Essential fuel from the food truck at the Tiki Bar.