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The Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont is the Moab of the East. It’s where mountain bikers flock 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.
Aside from the awesome trail network, there are also incredible views from the top of Darling Hill (it’s magical at sunset!), a half-dozen food trucks, a tiki bar, swimming holes, and just an awesome overall mountain bike feel to the town. If you haven’t been to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to ride, it’s time to start planning your trip!
As a Vermont native myself and a huge fan of the riding at East Burke, in this post, I share everything you need to know about mountain biking the Kingdom Trails in East Burke including route recommendations, where to stay, & more.
Why Mountain bike at the kingdom trails?
The vast network of singletrack in East Burke, Vermont is spread out through a big swath of valleys, hills, and ridges. The riding varies 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.
In short, the Kingdom Trails is home to a bit of everything.
But it’s not just the riding that makes this place so great. There’s often live music, really good food, a fun mountain bike town vibe, and beautiful Vermont views.
Here are just a few reasons to plan a mountain bike trip to East Burke:
Important Things to Know
RIDE WITH GRATITUDE
Mountain biking at the Kingdom Trails is only possible with the cooperation and generosity of private landowners.
Over the years, several landowners have closed their properties off to mountain bikers because of rude, ungrateful behavior.
Please take the pledge to ride with gratitude so we can all continue to enjoy these amazing trails.
Riding with gratitude means:
Kingdom Trails Tickets
All mountain bike visitors to East Burke and Kingdom Trails need to purchase a Membership to ride. Memberships options are:
- Annual ($120 individual/$195 family)
- Monthly ($45 youth/$64 individual/$95 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.
Learn more about Kingdom Trails Memberships and purchase your tickets
Kingdom Trails Mountain Bike Shuttle
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 has partnered with Rural Community Transportation to provide a 15-person mountain bike shuttle for visitors. The shuttle runs on weekends (Friday-Sunday) as well as Monday’s later in the summer.
The shuttle can deliver riders up to Darling Hill, out to East Haven, and up to Burke Mountain.
(I couldn’t find any info on shuttle fees, so I’m assuming it’s free if you have a Kingdom Trails pass/membership, which you need to ride the trails anyway.)
Watch a short clip on mountain biking at the Kingdom Trails
Trail Networks & Route Recommendations
With nearly 100 miles of singletrack, the options for riding in Kingdom Trails is almost limitless.
Below are the different trail networks to check out:
- Darling Hill
- East Haven
- Central East Burke Trails
- Burke Mountain Bike Park
Kingdom Trails mountain bike map
1. Darling Hill
Darling Hill is the westernmost network in East Burke and it’s also the zone that got sliced up several years 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 spend your first day or bring the kiddos.
There’s also a really fun skills zone with some drops, small jumps, and a short flow trail if you want to work on your skills.
The Village Sport Shop is 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 Trailside Hub Brew Counter!
#1 Darling Hill Route recommendation
>> West Darling Hill Loop
This loop covers all the best descents on West Darling Hill including 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!
The climb back out at the end is a bit of a grind, but the route is worth it.
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
Make it shorter: There are three descents on this loop:
- Bear Back
- Piggy Back
You can cut out Bear Back and/or Piggy Back, but I recommend doing Sidewinder.
Make it longer: Head over to the other side of Darling Hill and do the Ridge to Rim route below.
#2 Darling Hill Route recommendation
>> 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 directions: Jaw (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.
(If you’re visiting on a weekend you can also grab the shuttle back up to Darling Hill. See more about the shuttle below).
Shop my favorite mountain bike gear
#3 Darling Hill Route recommendation
>> Poundcake, Coronary Bypass, Fenceline
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 directions: Cupcake Connector > Poundcake > Coronary Bypass > Pastore Point Loop > Pastore Point > Coronary/Loop/Coronary > Fence Line > Bog Meadow > Loop > Cupcake Connector
Make it longer: Add this loop onto one or both of the Darling Hill routes above.
2. East Haven
East Haven is hands down my favorite area to ride at Kingdom Trails. It’s a bit of a drive (or pedal) from the town of East Burke, but the trek is worth it. Black Bear will probably be one of the best rides of your week. This trail is completely machine-build and has amazing flow.
Parallel to Black Bear is Stormin’ Norman, which 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.
#1 East Haven Route recommendation
>> East Haven Two Laps
If you’re looking for maximum downhill fun, this route is for you! 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 the Haul Road and have a blast on the downs.
Route directions: Haul Road > Hawk Eye > Black Bear > Haul Road > Stormin’ Norman
Make it shorter: If I had to choose between a Black Bear or Stormin’ Norman descent, I’d go with Black Bear.
Make it longer: There’s a short loop you can do at the top of the Haul Road by taking Swamp Donkey to BFR back to Swamp Donkey. This will add about a mile.
Honestly, the other trails at East Haven like Grin and Bear It, Buck Stop, or Doe’s Dive really aren’t worth it unless you’ve ridden everything else.
#2 East Haven Route recommendation
>> East Haven to Town One-Way
Unfortunately, I had to edit this route due to landowner trail closures (Flower Brook was one of my favorite trails :()
But doing a one-way ride from East Haven back to East Burke is a great way to cover a lot of miles and a lot of the best trails.
This is a big day so pack lots of water and snacks.
Route directions: Haul Road > Black Bear > Haul Road > Stormin’ Norman > Haul Road > BFR > Swamp Donkey > Besaw > Shonter Shuffle > North Pasture > Butter Tubs > Moose Alley > White School Road > Good n’ You > Skydive (or Farmjunk) > Nosedive > White School
Shuttle info: If you have two cars, drive one out to the East Haven parking area. If you don’t have a second car, the Crown Connection Shuttle runs Friday through Sunday.
Alternatively, you can pedal out to East Haven by taking New School trail from town to White School Road to Marshall Newland Road. This will add about 6 miles of pedaling, but not a whole lot of elevation gain.
3. Central East Burke Trails
For lack of TrailForks nomenclature, I named the area between Darling Hill and East Haven Central East Burke Trails.
These trails aren’t the most exciting singletrack at the Kingdom Trails, but they’re worth checking out if you’ve already ridden Darling Hill and East Haven.
You can expect mostly old-school stuff with lots of roots and steep climbs. I wouldn’t recommend spending your entire day here, but there are some fun trails and loops like Good n’ You and Ware’s Davis.
Central East Burke Route recommendation
>> Kitchel to Farmjunk
This route may not be the ‘best’ at Kingdom Trails, but it does hit two of my favorite trails: Kitchel and Ware’s Davis.
Kitchel is a fast, machine-built flow trail while Ware’s Davis is a beautiful pedal through the woods. You have a lot of options to customize this ride and make it longer or shorter.
Route directions: Uptown > Beat Bog > Kitchel > White School > Ware’s Davis > Upper Pond > Lower Pond > White School > Climbing Trail > VAST > Farmjunk > VAST > Skydive > Nose Dive > White School
Do more: Add a loop on Good n’ You on the east side (ride it clockwise) and/or Last Call (ride it counter-clockwise) on the west side.
Another option is to head to the other side of Route 114 and climb up Butter Tubs to Moose Alley if you haven’t already hit that (use Butter Tubs Access off of Pinkham Road – don’t climb up Moose Alley, it’s dangerous).
4. 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.
Best Time To Ride 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.
East Burke Bike Shops & Rentals
There are a number of mountain bike serices in East Burke to get you riding and keep you riding:
Where to eat & drink in East Burke
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:
Where to stay in East Burke
Kingdom Trails Camping
East Burke Hotels
The Wildflower Inn is a quaint little B&B up on Darling Hill with a place to store your bikes and a bike wash station.
The nearby Inn at Burklyn is a major splurge if you’re looking for a bit of luxury in the Northeast Kingdom.
As a Vermonter, I’m pretty partial to the trails and mountain biking scene at East Burke, Vermont. It’s a great network and there is a ton of awesome riding. The KT trail association is constantly building and improving the networks, but they do need our help to ‘keep the peace’ between landowners.
If you plan a trip to the Kingdom Trails, please remember that riding here is a privlege. It’s not something to take for granted and we all need to do our part to be respectful. It’s super sad to receive an email saying that a landower has decided to retract their land from Kingdom Trails.
Practice good trail etiquette, be polite and courteous, and have fun 🙂
Have you ridden the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont? What are your favorite trails and routes? What questions do you still have? Leave a comment below!