Tucked deep in the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont, Kingdom Trails is home to some of the country’s best mountain biking. With over 100 miles of world-class bike trails passing aging farms, trickling streams, verdant forests, and rich pastures, Kingdom Trails is quintessential Vermont. If you haven’t visited this hub of mountain biking in New England, now is the time.

Credit: Tim Peck

Finding Flow at Kingdom Trails

What puts Kingdom Trails in most “best of” conversations is its abundance of flowy, must-ride trails, chock full of stuff to try. Sure, the skills park, pump track, and lift-assisted terrain are all also awesome, but riders line up to tackle trails like Moose Deuce, Black Bear, Farmjunk, and Webs. Packed with berms, S-turns, and small jumps, the speed gained while descending any of these flowy trails turns the hardwood forest along the trail into a blur of color—greens and yellows in summer giving way to oranges and reds in fall. Don’t get so caught up in the flow that you let your guard down though; At times, the forest narrows to just larger-than-handlebar width, and there’s always the occasional root waiting to crush your confidence.

Sidewinder is another “don’t miss” flowy Kingdom classic. The equivalent of a dirt roller coaster for your mountain bike, Sidewinder descends a gully by screaming riders down one side, only to whip them up the other. One of the few trails outside of the bike park rated as a double-black diamond, riders are challenged to avoid their brakes and let gravity do its thing as it pulls them through successive turns. Style the jump at the end and pretend like that wasn’t the longest (and best) tenth of a mile you’ve ever ridden.

Yet another flowy Kingdom classic: Kitchel. Starting from the top, the first half of Kitchel is like an old-school cross-country downhill, with roots, rocks, and even a speed-sucking uphill section. However, the bottom half of Kitchel is a 100 percent modern, machine-built flow trail that allows riders to test their mettle on increasingly large doubles and head-high berms. Just minutes from downtown Burke, Kitchel is the perfect place to burn off any energy left in the tank—making it a popular way for many riders to end their day at Kingdom Trails.

Credit: Tim Peck

The Après Scene

Speaking of ending the day, the fun at Kingdom Trails continues even after the bikes are stowed away. Mike’s Tiki Bar, conveniently located next to the main parking lot, serves up a wide selection of Vermont’s best craft beers and ciders, and is the perfect spot for bragging about the day’s ride or your King of the Mountain on Strava. If you get hungry, there are a couple of food trucks, serving everything from pizza to burritos, right next to the bar. If the downtown scene is too bustling, Village Sport Trailside on top of Darling Hill has a small bar and an outside patio featuring a fire pit and incredible views of the Vermont countryside.

Credit: Tim Peck

A Riding Destination Unlike Any Other

While the incredibly high quality of the trails is what draws riders to this NEK destination, the tight-knit community and support from the local population are what really make Kingdom Trails unique. The Kingdom Trails network is almost entirely situated on private land—rather than in state forests or on BLM land, like most other must-ride destinations. In fact, 90+ contiguous landowners allow the Kingdom Trails Association to manage and maintain trails through their property!

But it’s not just in the landowners’ generosity that this sense of community can be felt: The entire town of Burke is unbelievably bike-friendly. On busy weekends, bikes easily outnumber cars in Burke’s quaint downtown. As you pass through, you’ll likely find an abundance of bikes stacked in front of and beside the town’s numerous bike-friendly businesses.

Of course, while Kingdom Trails may seem like the holy grail for mountain bikers, its divine riding isn’t without issue. In 2020, access to some of the network’s most popular trails was revoked, with some speculating this was due to bad behavior by bikers. So remember to ride with gratitude when visiting Kingdom Trails—respecting other users (after all, they might own the land you’re riding on), protecting the area, caring for others, and setting a good example.