ECRT 2017: Burke and Kingdom Trails
3 Nov 2017
We wrapped up our bike park tour for the 2017 season at one of our favorite spots in the northeast. After leaving Maine, we traveled back west over the Stateline into East Burke, New Hampshire (correction Vermont), headed for Burke Bike Park. East Burke is a place where scores of mountain bikers converge on the weekends and holidays. It’s a playground for every style of cyclist that lives, except for maybe cyclocross riders. Correct us if we are wrong about that. East Burke is not a very large town, but they have a strong vibrant mountain bike scene with a bike park and a vast network of trails surrounding the area, known by everyone as the Kingdom Trails. Tons of riding, post ride food trucks and beer, along with a creek to cool off in, and great bike shops, make for a perfect holiday getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The town and Burke Bike Park were even busier this time around than our previous visit back in 2014, during our last East Coast Road Trip. East Burke has found a pretty sweet recipe for mountain bikers, proving that when an entire town comes together and focuses on mountain bike tourism, magic happens! It’s hard to talk about the bike park without talking about everything else. How do you talk about Mickey Mouse without bringing up Disney World?
(rider: Natty G - Wobbles but gets it done!)
We couldn’t wait to get back and ride the trails at the bike park and explore more of what Kingdom Trails has to offer (We also explored a riding area called Victory Hill, just on the other side of the mountain; stay tuned for a future feature article ‘From The Mouth Of Maurice’). Burke Bike Park is broken up in to two sections. There is the lower mountain that is accessed by a chairlift and then there’s the upper mountain, which is accessed by a van trailering 10 bikes. The van picks up riders every 30-45 minutes, but you do have to pay bit extra for this service when you get your lift pass. Generally speaking, if you are someone who really likes smooth flowy trails, then you will definitely have a great time riding all the trails on the lower mountain. There are a few techy trails on the lower mountain, including Enchanted Forest, Lower J-Bar and Black Forest, but none compare to what you will find on the upper mountain. And, if you are an avid trail rider, these single black diamond trails are nothing harder than anything you might find out on an average trail system in New England. The signature flow/machine built trails on the lower mountain, Knightslayer and Jester, are the trails that most riders come to lap at the bike park. They’re loaded with wooden features and large jumps. Some of the bigger features run directly under the chairlift, giving people on the lift something to gawk at while riding up.
(rider: Trey Clay always on point)
If you are someone who prefers rocky, root infested, chunk-gnar, then heading up in the van to the top of the mountain is something you must not miss! This is where we spent much of our time. Initially, we planned to split our time evenly between the upper and lower mountain, but we found ourselves being drawn back up to the top. We do have to admit that the lift line was pretty long at the base of the mountain, and this was partly the reason we kept going back up on the shuttle van, but the downhill trails up top are pretty freaking awesome! Also, we have to mention that the runs from off the top of the mountain are a lot longer. If you do plan to ride the shuttle van, call ahead and make sure that it is in fact running. Sometimes there are weddings or other events that might slow down or eliminate the availability of the shuttle service for mountain bikers.
(rider: Natty G - she ain't scurd)
(a very rare unicorn Mr David Scorer founder of this awesome website)
If you have never ridden at Burke or have never been up to the top of the mountain, then let us tell you in which order you should ride the three trails. #1: DH Trail - has lots of roots, some large rock rolls, and steep sections. #2: Upper J-Bar - has some even steeper sections than what’s found on the DH Trail. There are lots of rocks and roots in which scoping out a line may be necessary. #3: Freeride - be warned, the Freeride triple black diamond trail is no joke! There are huge mandatory features and no dab, full commitment steeps. There are no go-arounds, so be ready and bring you’re a-game.
(riders: CJ Scott + Natty G keeping off the leaves)
We did have the opportunity to ride a couple of days worth at Kingdom trails with CJ Scott, the KT trails manager. The glorious thing about KT is that they have a dedicated trail crew. Something you don’t see very often at trail centers. We got to see how CJ manages trails, first hand! For instance, someone stole a map from one of the major trail intersections (whoever stole the map must have been pretty desperate – hope they made it out), and CJ made a note on an app in his phone to be added to a long list of things that needed to be tended to that week, by his trail crew. So, needless to say, the trails are almost always in great condition. Most of the trails found at KT are pretty flowy and smooth. They do have some technical trails, but this trip, we spent most of our time leaf peeping and enjoying the smoother trails. It was a great respite from all the gnar riding at Upper Burke Mountain. One thing that we noticed on KT, was some signage stating that ‘up-hill traffic must yield to downhill traffic’, something that we definitely are on board with.
(Natty + CJ again through the fall colors)
We made a couple trips to the infamous Tiki Bar. This was where all the mountain bikers converged at the end of a long day of riding. There are two food trucks now, last time we were here there was only one. (the pizza was better than the rice bowls… just sayin) The Tiki Bar has many great craft beers on tap to choose from. But, be warned, during the weekend, mountain bikers rule this hangout spot, so good luck finding a place to sit. Your best bet is to bring your own camp chairs!
(Natty working hard to stay on the wood...stay on the wood!)
After our visit to East Burke, KT and the bike park, we headed back around the mountain to the Victory Hill trail system. We started saying to ourselves, ‘hum…we could live here, if not for the winter ruining summer’… East Burke kind of has it all, and they are still growing and getting better all the time. I t was pretty remarkable how many more people we saw this trip. But, more demand only means one thing, more trails to come! We hope.
Having fun, looking good and feeling protected all because of these guys!
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