Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Kingdom Trails - East Burke, Vermont - When I first met my now wife, I was living and working in Westchester County, New York, and was in the process of planning a big trip to Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont. I had heard from friends how great it was, and wanted to see it for myself. At the advice of a friend, I booked the Bike Barn (https://www.burkebikebarn.com/), which is an old barn beautifully converted into 2 condos. Amazing unfinished wood interior, and right off of White School at the base of Darling Hill - I highly recommend it, but book early, it fills up quickly!
I won’t bore you with the trails we rode or how many miles we did, but suffice to say, much fun was had. It became an annual trip, and every time we drove North, my wife would turn to me as we crossed the Vermont border and say “Why don’t we just live here?” Well, about 4.5 years ago, we made the move, initially living in Burlington, Vermont, then on to South Burlington, Vermont and eventually purchasing a home in Essex, Vermont where we live with our 3 year old daughter and our 8 year old dog.
Anyway, here’s some of my favorite trail systems to ride in and around Chittenden County:
Saxon Hill - Essex, Vermont - I’d call this my “home trail” as it’s about 5 minutes drive from my house. My daughter and I often head there in the afternoons for a quick 30-60 minute spin up and down Flo and Extend (I’m not ready for her to tackle Mojo yet!). Very well maintained by Fellowship of the Wheel, I would call Saxon beginner to intermediate terrain. Be prepared for some long bridges! Bonus: some of the best winter grooming around.
Sunny Hollow - Colchester, VT. This is another system I like to go to with my daughter. Pretty easy and approachable trails, especially at the top of the trail system, this has been a great place to get her more comfortable riding bikes. I like to ride these trails in a generally counter clockwise direction.
Hinesburg Town Forest - Hinesburg, VT. This place rocks. And has lots of them! Lots of old school “rake and ride” trails, it reminds me of the trails I grew up riding in Southern New York and Connecticut. I usually park at the “Hayden Hill East” parking lot and then climb up Maiden to Back Door to Dragon’s Tail and then end with an awesome bomb down Sheep Thrills - be ready for some arm pump! Definitely not for beginners, but so much fun for a more experienced rider.
Cochran’s - Richmond, VT. This is another one that’s not for the faint of heart. It’s a ski area, so you pretty much go straight up right out of the parking lot, but the effort is greatly rewarded with some of the most entertaining downhills out there. Jimmy Cliff, Skulls, AC/DC, lots of fun! Again, don’t bring a beginner.
Perry Hill - Waterbury, VT. This place brings all the goods (and I just recently heard that they’re now grooming it for winter fat biking!). As with Cochrans, you begin with a bit of a long climb, but it’s totally worth it. Burning Spear starts your descent off, and you can either connect that to Rasta Man for one of the best descending trails in Vermont (maybe anywhere?) or go over to Joe’s and connect that to Campfire for a little more mellow descent. Bring your game face, but be prepared to have that face hurt from all the grinning you’ll be doing!