The Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont is the Moab of the east. It’s where everyone flocks for long weekends and festivals and big days out on the trails followed by lots of beer and swimming in the river. With nearly 100 miles of singletrack including a lift-served downhill bike park and dozens of miles of cross-country trail for all levels of riders, the Kingdom Trails has become a mecca for mountain bikers all over the world.
The vast network of trails is spread throughout the valleys, hills, and ridges of the region and the riding ranges from legit DH in the lift-access Burke Bike Park to slow and mellow hard-packed trails through beautiful forest and along riverbanks. In between, there are fast and flowy machine-built descents, raw old-school singletrack, and rocky, rooty technical climbs that will have you daydreaming about an ice-cold beer.
Aside from the awesome trail network, there are also incredible views from the top of Darling Hill, a half-dozen food trucks, a tiki bar, riverside swimming, and just an awesome overall mountain bike feel to the town. If you haven’t been to the Northeast Kingdom to ride, it’s time to start planning your trip!
Learn the best tips about mountain biking the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont including the best trails, how to link them up, & more.
Things to know before Visiting The Kingdom Trails
It gets busy
If you’re visiting the Kingdom Trails, VT over a beautiful summer weekend, expect to share the trails with lots of other riders. It can get super busy. Personally, I think it’s kind of fun to have so many riders enjoying the trails! Please be respectful and share the trails.
You are riding on PRIVATE land
You may have heard the sad news a little while ago about several landowners revoking mountain biker access to their private land. I’m not sure what happened (rumor has it that some mountain bikers were rude and disruptive…), but PLEASE remember that you are biking on PRIVATE land. It is a PRIVILEGE to ride here. Don’t screw it up for the rest of us. Here are a few ways to stay respectful:
- Don’t litter
- Don’t cut trails
- Don’t be overly loud and disruptive
- Stay on the trails
- Leave Fido at home (no dogs allowed)
E-Bikes are NOT allowed
Electric bikes of any kind or class are not allowed on the trails in East Burke.
Trail networks are spaced far apart
While it is possible to ride between all of the trail networks, it’s important to note that they’re spaced pretty far apart. If you plan on riding to East Haven and back, prepare for 30+ miles. That goes for Darling Hill, too. There’s a pretty massive hill to get up to the ridge. Just plan your rides accordingly and shuttles are always a good option 😉.
Kingdom Trails Tickets
All mountain bike visitors to East Burke and Kingdom Trails need to purchase a Membership to ride. Memberships options are:
- Annual ($75 individual/$150 family)
- Monthly ($20 youth/$40 individual/$70 family)
- Daily ($12 youth/$20 adult)
This money goes back into the trails and ensures that trails are well-maintained, safe, signed, and fun! KTA (Kingdom Trails Association) is a non-profit organization and without these Membership fees, they wouldn’t be able to offer such an amazing network of mountain bike trails. Please be respectful and purchase a Membership before you ride.
Best Time To Visit East Burke & The Kingdom Trails
East Burke is actually a year-round destination thanks to its groomed cross-country ski trails (open to fat biking, too!) and the Burke Mountain Ski Resort. But if you want to mountain bike the best times to visit are the summer months, roughly between June and October. Personally, I love riding the Kingdom Trails in the fall when all the leaves are ablaze and the crowds have (kind of) thinned.
Where To Ride: The Best Trails & Loops
With nearly 100 miles of singletrack, the options for riding in Kingdom Trails is almost limitless. Below are the different trail networks, the best trails in each of them, and how to link them up.
Darling Hill is the western-most network in East Burke and it’s also the zone that got sliced up last year when a few landowners decided to close their trails to mountain bikers. But even though some of the trails have been lost, there’s still a ton of terrain to ride and more singletrack is being built every year. I’d say that the west side of Darling Hill has the ‘easiest’ trails in East Burke, so it’s a great place to spent your first day or bring the kiddos.
There’s also a bike rental shop up on Darling Hill with a beer garden, food truck, and incredible views out over the rolling hills. I highly recommend ending at least one ride at the Village Sport Shop Trailside Hub Brew Counter.
Best Trails on Darling Hill
- Beginner: There are only a few true beginner trails in Darling Hill like the Burklyn Trail. The intermediate blue trails below are suitable for most beginner riders comfortable on a mountain bike. The Skills Park is also a great place for new riders to practice their techniques.
- Intermediate: Webs, New T, Heaven’s Bench, Emma’s Sanctuary, Pastore Point Loop
- Advanced: Sidewinder, Piggy Back, Jaw, Fence Line, Ridge, Rim, Kitchel
How To Link-Up Darling Hill
This is a good warm-up loop or one suitable for more beginner riders. Coronary is mostly smooth and obstacle-free while Emma’s Sanctuary is a flow trail with berms and tight turns. Finish with a lap on Burklyn for awesome views of the surrounding hills.
- Route difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate
- Route stats: 6.1 miles | 810 ft +/-
- Route directions: Cupcake Connector > Cupcake > Coronary > Pastore Point Loop > Bog Meadow > Loop > Emma’s Sanctuary > River Run > Loop > Burklyn
This loop covers all the best descents on West Darling Hill including Old Webs, Bear Back, Sidewinder, and Piggy Back. Webs is a beautiful flow trail through the woods and Sidewinder is one of the most popular trails in East Burke. It’s basically a slalom course for two wheels. You can make this loop shorter by cutting out the Bear Back descent, but don’t miss out on Sidewinder!
- Route difficulty: Intermediate
- Route stats: 8.6 miles | 1,141 ft +/-
- Route directions: New T > Webs (ride clockwise) > River Run > West Branch > Old Webs > Border > Bear Back > West Branch > Sidewinder > West Branch > Hog Back > Piggy Back > Violet’s Outback> Fox Run > Flow Trail
3. Ridge To Rim
If you want to add on to the above loop or just do a quick, fun ride head over to East Darling Hill to do a Ridge to Rim run. This is one of the best link-ups at Kingdom Trails! It’s super fast and flowy. Jaw is rated double black for its skinny bridges, but there’s nothing overly technical on it.
- Route difficulty: Intermediate/Expert
- Route stats: 4.5 miles | 663 ft +/-
- Route directions: Jaw’s (double black because of skinny bridges) > Maxilla > Ridge > Rim > East Branch > Sugar Hill > Heaven Bench > Darling Hill Road
- Make it longer: You can continue on Darling Hill Road to Kitchel, which is a fun descent, but it will end you in town, so you’ll either need to climb back up East Darling Hill Road (which is steeep), Herb’s (also steep), or Beat Bog (steep and technical). Or the best option is to leave a car in town and simply end at Mike’s Tiki Bar.
This loop hits all the best descents in the north Darling Hill network. Truthfully I don’t love this area as much as the west Darling Hill stuff, but it’s still worth checking out if you have the time. The Pastore Point Loop is really beautiful with great views out over the river.
- Route difficulty: Intermediate
- Route stats: 6.4 miles | 783 ft +/-
- Route directions: Cupcake Connector > Poundcake > Coronary Bypass > Pastore Point Loop > Pastore Point > Coronary/Loop/Coronary > Fence Line > Bog Meadow > Loop > Cupcake Connector
East Haven is hands down my favorite area to ride at Kingdom Trails. It’s a bit of a drive (or pedal) from East Burke, but the trek is worth it. Black Bear will probably be one of the best rides of your week. It’s completely machine-build and has amazing flow. Stormin’ Norman is just as rad. The only ‘bummer’ about East Haven is that the climb up to the top is on a steep access road that is quite a grind, especially if you do several laps. Just put it in granny and get it done.
Best Trails at East Haven
- Beginner: No true beginner trails although if you can pedal up the Haul Road (it’s a beast!) Black Bear is suitable for newer mountain bikers
- Intermediate: Black Bear and Stormin’ Norman
- Advanced: Flower Brook
How To Link-Up East Haven
East Haven is really easy to navigate. You basically pedal up the Haul Road to the top and bomb back down. My suggested routes are:
Two laps at East Haven are worth it despite the steep fire road climb. Black Bear is a super fun and flowy descent as is Stormin’ Norman, which has a bit more pedaling and also bigger features. Just take your time going up and have a blast on the downs! (The map below doesn’t include the new Black Bear Extension. Climb all the way to the top to get the fullest descent!
- Route difficulty: Intermediate
- Route stats: 7.4 miles | 1,304 ft +/-
- Route directions: Haul Road > Hawk Eye > Black Bear > Haul Road > Stormin’ Norman
My favorite way to ride East Haven is as a one-way shuttle. Park a car or get dropped off at East Haven and ride Black Bear and Stormin’ Norman (see above route). Pedal halfway back up the Haul Road to Links and connect into Flower Brook which is a meandering trail back in the direction of down and actually quite a nice pedal.
Then use Pinkham Road and the Butter Tubs Access Trail to get to Butter Tubs, a really well-built climb. Then bomb down Moose Alley! From there you can choose to add bonus miles on Farmjunk and Skydive or head straight back to town on White School.
This is a BIG day, so be prepared with lots of water and food!
- Route difficulty: Strong Intermediate/Expert
- Route stats: 20.7 miles | 3,081 ft +/-
- Route directions: Haul Road > Black Bear > Haul Road > Stormin’ Norman > Haul Road (again 🙂 > Links > Flower Brook > Moose Alley > Pinkham Road > Butter Tubs > Moose Alley > VAST > Farmjunk > Skydive > Nosedive > White School
Central East Burke Trails
For lack of TrailForks nomenclature, I named this area Central East Burke Trails. These trails are mostly old-school with lots of roots and steep climbs. I wouldn’t recommend spending your entire day here, but there are some fun trails and loops.
Best Trails In Central East Burke
- Beginner: No true beginner trails
- Intermediate: Ware’s Davis
- Advanced: Farmjunk, Skydive, Nosedive
How To Link-up Central East Burke
This is a good central East Burke loop with tons of options for modification. Finish with a climb up to Kitchel or just head to the Tiki Bar!
- Route difficulty: Intermediate
- Route stats: 10 miles | 906 ft +/-
- Route directions: Ridge Run > New School > VAST/White School > Farm Junk > Good n’ You > Sky Dive > Nose Dive > Swan Dive > White School > Upper Pond Loop > Ware’s Davis
Burke Mountain (non-bike park)
On the other side of the Central East Burke trails is Burke Mountain. There is a Bike Park on Burke Mountain (see below) but there are also several trails that are accessed via leg power (or shuttle!).
Best Trails On Burke Mountain
- Beginner: No beginner trails
- Intermediate: No true intermediate trails
- Advanced: Moose Alley, Moose Deuce, Burnham Down (double black because of skinny bridges)
- Expert: Upper J-Bar, Rude Awakening
How To Link-up Burke Mountain
This is a fun way to lap Moose Alley and Moose Deuce from town. Choose your own adventure to get back! If you’re pedaling, be prepared to earn your turns. Or, you can shuttle via Pinkham Road. Although Butter Tubs is actually a very well-built climb.
- Route difficulty: Expert
- Route stats: 8.3+ miles | 1,106 ft +/-
- Route directions: Burnham Up or Burnham Down > Dashney Road > Trillium > Moose Deuce > Butter Tubs > Moose Alley > Choose your own adventure!
This loop is for expert riders only and incorporates both lower J-Bar and Dead Moose Alley. You could add Upper J-Bar if you want to climb all the way up the Toll Road. Bring your full face!
- Route difficulty: Expert
- Route stats: 12 miles | 1,839 ft +/-
- Route directions: Mountain Road > Shire > Camptown > Dead Moose Alley > Camptown > CCC Road (or Toll Road if heading to Upper J-Bar) > J-Bar > Burnham Down
Burke Mountain Bike Park
And if all those trails and networks weren’t enough, Kingdom Trails is also home to a lift-served bike park.
The Burke Mountain Bike Park has thirteen downhill and seven cross-country trails suited for all levels of rider from beginner to pro. The lower trails are accessed via lift while the upper three DH trails (Upper J-Bar, Rude Awakening aka DH Trail, and Freeride) require a shuttle or leg power.
East Burke Bike Shops, Rentals, & Tours
East Burke Sports: This is a great bike shop right in the center of East Burke village. They are a full-service bike shop and they also rent high-end bikes like Santa Cruz and Juliana | (802) 626-3215
Village Sport Shop: Located up on Darling Hill, this bike shop does mostly rentals but they can also tune up your bike if needed. Village Sport Shop is also home to the Hub Brew Counter, so be sure to stop in and grab a pre-ride coffee or an adult beverage at the end of the day | (802) 626-8448
VTMTB Tours: If you want a private tour around the Kingdom Trails, professional racers Alex and Ella have got your covered. Choose from day tours or custom packages or let them help you level up your skills with a few hours of 1:1 coaching.
Where to eat, drink, & Sleep
East Burke Restaurants
Despite its tiny size, East Burke has no shortage of good places to eat and drink. There are food trucks, a tiki bar, restaurants, and cafes. Below are a few of my favorites:
Mike’s Tiki Bar: This is a must. Located right next to the main parking area in the village of East Burke, Mikes Tiki Bar serves up cold beer, cider, and wine on an open patio. It’s the perfect place to end a ride.
Burrito Food Truck: Located right next to Mike’s Tiki Bar is a burrito food truck that serves awesome (and filling) burritos as well as other fare like salads and fries.
Hub Brew Counter: Located inside the Village Sport Shop on Darling Hill, the Hub Brew Counter serves coffee, beer, wine, cider, and snacks. There’s also a beautiful outdoor patio with seating that overlooks the majestic hills of Northeast Kingdom. I highly recommend ending one of your rides here. There’s usually also a food truck right outside serving more filling fare.
Junipers: This is a great restaurant inside the Wildflower Inn. They serve filling and tasty comfort food like burgers, mac & cheese, and steaks. If you just want a drink or lighter fare, check out the SpokeEasy Lounge and Beer Garden also located at the Wildflower Inn.
Cafe Lotti: An awesome coffee shop located just a short distance outside the village. They serve delicious specialty coffee as well as pastries, breakfast sandwiches, breakfast plates, and lunch sandwiches.
Auntie Dee’s Homemade Baked Goods: This place is a hidden gem. A tiny little bakery/deli, you can get amazing sandwiches, salads, pastries, and other baked goods. Grab a lunch-to-go before heading out to East Haven!
Kingdom Trails Camping
Main Parking Lot: You can actually camp overnight in your vehicle in the main parking area located conveniently by Mike’s Tiki Bar. And wait for it… there are FREE showers! It gets super busy during peak mountain bike season, though, so don’t expect to have a ton of privacy.
Burke Mountain Campground: This campground is located up at the mountain by the bike park. It has 26 sites and a few lean-tos. Reservations include access to the hot tub and swimming pool. No RV’s are allowed (max 20’).
East Burke Hotels
The Wildflower Inn is a quaint little B&B up on Darling Hill and the nearby Inn at Burklyn is a major splurge if you’re looking for a bit of luxury in the Northeast Kingdom.
Find Out More
Have you ridden the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont? What are your favorite trails and loops? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!