Thunder Mountain /
United States

#ECRT 2017: Thunder Mountain ECRT 2017 Thunder Mtn

Since working our way into the Northeastern States, we kept getting the same question repeatedly—the queries came from mountain bikers with an explosive amount of excitement in their voices, “Have you guys been to Thunder Mountain Bike Park yet?”  Literally, every bike park we visited this summer, park riders had inquired about Thunder.  They either wanted to tell us about how wicked cool the trails are, or they wanted to know, “is it all that its cracked up to be”?  With all the hype leading up to our very first visit to Thunder Mountain, the bar was set pretty high.  Like kids in a candy store, we couldn’t wait to sample all the trails, meet up and shred with some locals, and deal with an unfortunate cracked bike frame. Balancing a few things on our plate has never been a challenge for us especially when we meet the right people and go with the flow. 


(rider and trail builder: Alex Mercer)

Berkshire East Mountain Resort is home to Thunder Mountain Bike Park, located in Charlemont, Massachusetts and just a couple hours drive west from Boston.  Thunder is a newer bike park, having burst onto the scene in 2015, and they have exploded in popularity with bike park riders raving about their trails.  Thunder consulted with Gravity Logic at the beginning and took their advice very seriously.  They invested quite a bit of money towards developing their trail system, and they are currently two years in to a 5-year building plan that will eventually include a second lift and trails that will run off the backside of the mountain.  Build it and they will come has been proven true at this bike park.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon to set up camp and scope out the base of the mountain.  While walking around, we met Gabe Porter-Henry, the bike park manager.  We liked Gabe right away; he’s a world traveler and adventure seeker, just like us!  As we took a tour at the base of the mountain there was no doubt in our minds that Thunder Mountain was doing everything right.  They have an outside grill to fill the bellies of hungry riders, free Wi-Fi, and an after-hours bar for après bike on the weekends.  They also offer a multitude of activities other than park riding which includes white water rafting, a mountain coaster, zip-line tours, and an outdoors ropes course!  They even have a network of mountain bike trails to explore that can be accessed by way of the chairlift or by riding up from the bottom.


(rider and trail builder: Alex Mercer)

We couldn’t wait to ride the next day.  After hearing so much positive feedback from park riders everywhere, we had a sneaky feeling that the trails were going to stack up against some of the best bike parks in the country.  Seeing with our own eyes, the scene and vibe that Thunder Mountain makes sense that they have a cultish following.  The parking lot quickly filled up by the time we were ready to ride the next day.  We met lots of people from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Boston.  There were entire families there, all kitted-out, and ready to check out the trails.  Riders were coming from everywhere...passing up other bike parks in the Northeast for the better-kept trail conditions found at Thunder.  Once again, we found ourselves feeling giddy with anticipation to ride more thrilling Gravity Logic built trails—“Hawleywood”, an expert jump trail, has garnered most of the attention in social media circles, and “The Gronk,” an intermediate jump trail, is arguably one of the most fun and flowy trails around.  Hearing that Thunder maintains a dedicated trail-crew, staffed to constantly manage trail conditions, is just another thing that they are doing right.    

Our first chairlift ride up, we met Josh Greene of and spent a good part of the day riding with him until Natty noticed a crack in the rear triangle of her frame, causing her to peal-out early and grab a different bike. (to read about Natty and Trey’s carbon fiber repair experience go here)

(rider: Josh Greene)

The key components that make up a successful bike park were found at Thunder Mountain.  Yes, they have trails that are green, blue, and black, and it would be very easy for us to say ‘They have something for everyone’, but it goes deeper than that. When a resort takes the extra steps to further what it is that they offer to the bike park rider, then that sweet combination turns into catnip for trail hungry mountain bikers.  By offering different levels of intensity in types of trails and terrain, then it really is something for everyone...a very valuable combination.  Let’s give an example; we’ve been to a handful of bike parks this summer that offered one dedicated (blue) jump trail.  We can’t complain too much because it’s more than what some bike parks offer.  However, when a jump-junky reaches their pinnacle for jumping success on said blue jump trail, they will move on to another bike park that can offer them more incremental progression in return for their efforts.  Thunder Mountain has thought it through, all the way to the end.  They understand the secret sauce that makes a bike park great.  They don’t just have something for everyone, but they have something for riders to aspire to.  We could go on about their technical trail offerings...they got that too, in an honest solid succession, starting at green, moving to blue, and on and on.


(rider and trail builder: Alex Mercer)

Some of you might not know this, but Berkshire East runs on 100% renewable energy.  All of their energy needs come from wind and solar.  When you look up from the base of the mountain, you can see the wind turbine spinning.  When Gabe invited us to explore the trails outside the boundaries of the bike park, we were game.  Taking the chairlift up and riding over to check out the windmill and solar panels before we hit the XC trail network back to the base was a cool experience. One of the greatest things about our East Coast Road Trip #ECRT this year is that we brought our trail bikes.  We’ve been able to explore neighboring trail systems and keep our pedal legs moving all summer long!  We highly recommend checking out the trail systems outside the bike park.  Technical roots and rocks with intermittent climbing made for a great ride back to the base.


Thunder Mountain Bike Park comes with an enthusiastic two-thumbs up!  We’re eager to see what the future holds for them, and we’re stoked to make a repeat visit! The friends that we have made since our visit there have made a lasting impression.  We’ve met up and ridden in other parts of the New England with a handful of Thunder Mountain park riders since we left.  Making new friends is part of the secret sauce to a successful bike park.  When you create an environment for people to hangout and get to know each other, they will stay, spend their money, and come back.  Isn’t that what all bike parks are hoping for?  Lastly, another great thing about Thunder is they stay open later than a lot of bike parks in the North East, well into October dependent on weather.  Maybe we’ll see you there!!

Having fun, looking good and feeling protected all because of these guys!


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