More Trail—Landscapes: Forest Riding With Ella & Alex McAndrew

July 06, 2022

In our More Trail Landscapes series, we’re highlighting what makes the terrain of a few distinctive environments so unique. As Part Two of our exploration into forest riding, we talked with downhill riders and Ideride Youth Team coaches, Alex and Ella McAndrew. The couple came to the bike at different times and through their own unique paths but now live together in East Burke Vermont, where they routinely take advantage of the bounty of mountain biking at Kingdom Trails. The trail network surrounding Burke Mountain boasts over 100+ miles of classic forested XC single track and offers lift and shuttle access—it’s no wonder they’ve has made it their backyard trail system!

What to Expect

People come to Kingdom Trails and Burke Mountain because the dirt is a sand/organic mix that provides for a season-long consistency and grip not often seen in other riding areas. Kingdom trails offers a great entry point for any rider and gives the adventurous feel of all-day riding for your more advanced riders. A typical ride on Kingdom Trails will have you riding through Vermont’s iconic maple trees (sugarbush) and meadows with views of Burke Mountain and Willoughby Gap (a glacier-cut lake just north of Burke). In the White School zone, you will have more natural rooty riding. One of our favorites is the Moose Haven area, which provides a perfect mix of natural terrain and flow trail. It is a spot that is equally fun for your newer rider and an expert shredder.

Shifting to the lift access on Burke mountain, you will find the perfect bike park for trail bikes! Jester is a trail that is ideal for a party lap with your friends. Hooting and hollering abound as you build on the stoke of watching your friends find creative jump lines down the top half and showing off their style on the lower half. Black Forest is the raw tight flow that is best found on the east coast and is another one of our favorites.

If you are looking to challenge yourself, a shuttle (or pedal) up the toll road to the top of the mountain will offer three more options from the summit. Rude Awakening is a mix of raw, rooty, and steep riding with beautifully armored rock sections. Freeride and J-Bar are technical, steep and a challenge for even the most advanced riders with lots of rocks, roots and northeast moisture.

Our favorite part of living and riding where we do is that you never have to travel far to experience an entirely different riding style. Vermont is chock-full of riding zones and fun to be had!

As a non-profit trail organization, access to Kingdom Trails is made possible through the generosity of local, private landowners and the organization charges a nominal fee for a year or day passes to help with trail maintenance. With a full time trail crew on deck, the terrain is kept in excellent shape and the network is constantly changing to offer visitors fresh riding opportunities. While in Burke, make sure to keep an eye out for moose, deer, fox and the occasional wildcat.

When is the Best Time to Ride?

Vermont is known to have five seasons. Our two extras are “stick season” and “mud season” that bookend winter. Our trails are typically open to ride mid-to-llate April through end of October or early November. Kingdom Trails has a hard close date at the end of October so landowners can open the area for hunting during deer season.

What to Carry?

A tool, a tube, water, a snack.

The Best Part About Riding There?

The community. Vermont is filled with amazingly kind people and mountain biking seems to bring out the best of them! And, you have to visit Mike’s Tiki bar if you come to town!

Missed Part One? Check out a West Coast perspective on Forest riding here.

Cover Photo: Mark Clement

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