Posted by Blair
After leaving the Upper Peninsula of Michigan we made our way into Ontario Canada. Though there are not large mountains in the area surrounding Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay, there is definitely some elevation change with deep forested areas. From there our journey took us to the famous Kingdom Trails of North Eastern Vermont, Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania, and onto Virginia. While in Virginia I had wanted to visit Washington D.C. but we managed to find some decent mountain biking as well. We also visited Douthat State Park on our way down to Asheville, North Carolina.
Blue Mountains, Ontario, Canada
We ventured for a few days and various stops on our way to Collingwood, Ontario. Blue Mountain resort and the surrounding area offered a few separate trail systems that would keep us entertained for 5 days. Both the resort’s trails and the nearby trail systems were deeply forested. The forests were the closest thing I have ever been in that resembled a jungle. Loamy dirt with roots, ferns, and thick brush surrounded nearly every trail. Because Blue Mountain was a ski area, it did offer some open sections with views and, of course, requisite downhill trails. Most of the riding offered very little elevation change. Even the ski resort only rose up about 400 feet. This aspect made me excited to see the mountains of the Eastern United States.
Kingdom Trails, Vermont
Nestled around the community of East Burke, Vermont, the Kingdom Trails are a purpose-built system of trails tying into the local ski resort. We were camped just below the Kitchel trail, one of the more popular flow trails in the entire system. This network offered trails that mostly traversed hillsides and meandered up and down the hill as they navigated roots, jumps, bridges, and sweeping, bermed turns. Some of my favorite were Moose Alley, Tap or Die, and Kitchel.
Spending a week here gave us the opportunity to ride everything offered in the immediate system of trails including a downhill day at the local ski resort. The ski hill only had 5 trails open that were serviced by the lift. I enjoyed some of the black runs like Black Forest. Awkwardly enough, the only blue trail had some seriously large jumps at the bottom. Though there were ride arounds it was difficult for my 4-yearold to make it up a few ramps just to get to the ride arounds. A few of the local riders were irritated with us, nearly ran over my son and wife, and did not leave a very good impression with me. We did take him down the only green run several times. It was fun, but the ski hill needed more variety.
With 3 separate pump tracks, the lift served downhill, and a variety of trails to ride, the Kingdom Trails are definitely a worthwhile mountain bike destination. The skills park at the top of the main system was situated right next to a bike shop that also served espresso and beers. That park was extremely fun and provided enough challenge for us to see Parkers riding level progress. The sunsets on the bike shop patio were magnificent as well. After many exploratory rides, I found that Moose Alley was my favorite downhill run on the whole system. Large boulders near the top offered optional large drops as one navigates the root infested trail down to the lower, smoother section. If visiting the area, I recommend going down Moose Alley…. Though going up wasn’t so bad either.
Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania
My last ride on Moose Alley in the KT left me with a broken shock bolt on my fatbike. We spent 4 days near Wappingers Falls, New York where Ed at Wheel and Heel helped me with warranty repairs. Forever grateful for the amazing service, we blasted out of there and headed down to Raystown Lake, Pennsylvania. Situated near State College (the location of Penn State), the quaint recreation area offers splendid miles of mountain bike specific trails.
The Alliegrippis trails were a blast to ride. We only stayed five days but considered staying longer. Trails like Stony, Allie, Grippis, Rays Revenge and Allegheny were some of my favorites. Typical sidehill traverses with root rolls (or jumps depending on your preference) riddled the trails system. Greens, blues and blacks…. They all seemed the same to me, but were all quite fun. Rays Revenge was my favorite in the whole system as it seemed to offer one of the longer sustained descents and a whole grip load of jumps!
There was a local skills park as well. It had one of each difficulty level, a green, blue, and black. The green is basically a little pump track. The blue track has two jumps that required a whip-turn to land and the black has some fun drops and a whale tail in addition to a few table tops. We rode the skills park every day we were there. I would love to attend Dirt Rag’s Dirt Fest here.
Fountainhead and Douthat State Park, Virginia
As mentioned previously, our intent in Virginia wasn’t necessarily to mountain bike, but we had to find something to ride! We camped south of D.C. for a few days in Pohick Bay Regional Campground and one of the closest systems to us was Fountainhead Regional Park (FRP). It offers about 15 miles of meandering, purpose built singletrack in 3 stacked loops. The beginning loop, a green, was short but fun with quick berms and turns leading into the blue loop. Once on the blue loop it offered some quick but challenging climbs that lead to equally challenging descents. One section also provided an alternate “difficult” section with wooden drops and a few jumps. The black loop was the longest and closely resembled the blue trail.
The entry of the black trail had a skills area to play on. Also, the entry to the black loop had a difficult, man-made rock garden. I suppose it was put there to ward off anyone too scared to try the area’s most difficult trail….. it wasn’t that difficult though. After about 2 miles, most of the rock gardens dissipated and the trail was primarily more meandering single track. All in, the system had some fun features, but it often wound in and out, close to another segment of the same trail and didn’t really go anywhere. It wasn’t my favorite style of trail building but does offer something for local residents. Don’t go out of your way to visit this system unless you happen to be in the area and jonesing for a ride.
Originally, we planned on visiting Canaan (which is world renowned riding) but it just didn’t fit into our path and schedule. Because of this situation we quickly did some research and found Douthat State Park in southern VA. We only spent two nights here, but that gave Kristen and I both an opportunity to fit in a decent ride. We both had been missing riding like Douthat offers. Serious, backcountry, classic single track.
I spent two hours climbing my way from our campground up to Middle Mountain Peak. Along the way I ventured along service road, then rooty, forested singletrack which traversed the side of the mountain. Finally, I topped off and rode across 4 peaks along the ridgeline of the mountain. It was hard and I loved it! I chose to descend down a trail named Stony “” and it was worth it. After finding my way out to a little cabin at the Tuscorora Overlook I blasted down some seriously rocky trail with baby heads filling the track most of the way down. A long series of switchbacks lead in to some wide-open sections before finding a few stream crossings and out to the park road. If I ever return to VA I am coming back to Douthat. There are many miles to be explored here.
Though Asheville, NC was on our horizon we found some interesting and beautiful areas to explore through Ontario and the east coast. This trip is making me realize that there are so many fantastic places to explore. Possibilities are endless! If we had more time I would love to explore more in Vermont, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and on. Life and this trip are not worth regretting though so on to more trails and more fun!