Welcome to East Burke, Vt.; a town that may have more bikes than people.
"It's great," said Steve Pucciarelli of Manalapan, N.J. "It's beautiful. It's absolutely beautiful, worth the trip. Definitely a destination ride."
Kingdom Trails is home to 110 miles of mountain biking trails. An outdoor mecca attracting biking enthusiasts from across the country.
A trip here actually begins at the Kingdom Trails Center, a place where even non-bikers like me can be totally transformed into the real deal-- mountain bikers extraordinaire.
After a quick look at the map, it's into the woods and down the mountain; a wild ride full of sharp turns and jumps.
"I like going fast, and I just like to stay on the bike," laughed Rebecca Paustian of Manalapan, N.J.
It's fast enough to satisfy adrenaline junkies, but a network that's also diverse with quiet, flatter trails for those just wanting to pedal along and watch the world go by.
"I think it's what you make it," said Sarah Kresser of East Burke. "I think there's something for everybody out here."
All of the trails were designed by skiers.
"It's like glade skiing on a bike," explained Tim Tierney of Kingdom Trials. "So that's what people really like, where they bike it's rocks and roots and this is really smooth riding and then you have great vistas of the Northeast Kingdom."
More than 32,000 people will visit Kingdom Trails over the course of a summer. But most aren't from Vermont. Forty percent of all trail users are from Quebec and another 30 percent are from other states. The trails are big for the town's economy, bringing more than $4 million to East Burke every year. And more people are now coming here than ever before. In March, the readers of Bike Magazine voted Kingdom Trails the best trail network in the country.
"I remember when I think I was the only girl up here," recalled Margi McGandy of East Burke.
McGandy is a local. She's been riding here since the first trail was built in the late '80s.
"I brought my adolescents out here so they wouldn't smoke cigarettes, but I never thought I would be the one to get addicted," she said.
It's an addiction that's hard to beat-- but a healthy one to have.
Tierney said, "I used to be a bartender and people were always happy to see me and they were happier when they left and it's the same with Kingdom Trails. They've happy to come here, excited about their trip and when they leave their smiles are twice as big and you know they're coming back."
It's mountain biking at its best on America's most popular trails. An outdoor paradise in Vermont's backyard.
Kingdom Trails is also unique because all of the trails are on private property owned by 50 contiguous land owners. A full day trail pass costs just $10 and if you want to rent a bike there is a bike shop just minutes away.
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