Green Mountain Trails
When Joe Desena (Spartan Race founder? Yes, *that* Joe Desena.) decided to build a mountain bike network on the mountain behind his bucolic farm in Pittsfield,VT, it was against the advice of nearly everyone. The trailbuilder at the time, Jason Hayden, recalls taking "experts" to scout the area and coming back full of doubt. So, in their typical take no prisoners style, they built it anyway. Back in 2006, Hayden would race ahead of a mini ex operator, himself past retirement age, marking trail as fast as it could be cut. A hundred switchbacks and twenty miles later, Green Mountain Trails emerged almost overnight.
Hayden, beset by obligations, delegated the trail work to Matt Baatz, a long time mountain biker without much building experience, who showed up at the farm in pursuit of a simpler lifestyle. He has spent the last five years fine tuning flow and sustainability while retrofitting the system with a few gnarlier options. One of the first signs that they had something special in the works is when the popular blog MTBVT paid a visit in 2011 and deemed the trails, "a field of dreams for mountain bikers" and "the best kept secret in Vermont."
The Green Mountain Trails have riding options for all abilities, passing by mountain streams and overlooks, with a beguiling panorama of The Green Mountains and pastoral valley at the summit that you won't want to miss.
There are a thousand feet of climbing and descending. Though a majority of the trails are relatively smooth and flowy, there are several miles of rooty, rocky, technical singletrack. Over 100 bermed switchbacks make the long descents a blast for mountain bikers. Most of the uphills are gradual and forgiving on the quads, but challenging uphills are also an option. Depending on your route, descents can linger for as long as six miles. The entire trail system is free to the public.
Some of the system highlights are Noodle's Revenge, an uber flowy, multi directional singletrack with long switchbacks, Warman, a 20 berm corkscrew, and Fusters a perfect balance between old school gnar and new school flowiness. Day trippers most often have a blast following the GMT Loop encompassing Noodles Revenge, Luvin It, The Summit, Labyrinth, Warman, Fusters and The Escalator. Check out www.gmtrails.org for details.
New trails balance the abundance of easier flow with old school gnar. Devil's Throat forges it's way over steep rocks and narrow ledges to sate the skilled and intrepid. Bubba Trail is also full of natural, old school, features, but is less fear inducing. Within the confines of 700 acres, the system will probably max out at around 30 miles, but trail development in the adjacent communities of Rochester and Killington means that the potential for this region remains unfathomable.
For gravity assisted rides, shuttle runs are also an option with parking available at the top of Tweed River Drive and at Riverside Farm or Amee Farm. The latter involves fording a low river which may not be passable after storms or in Spring. Weddings are a regular occurence at Riverside Farm and may effectively restrict that trailhead on Saturdays.
Pittsfield is an up and coming destination in itself. A enchanting mix of wilderness and farmland, the town is anchored by rustic bed and breakfasts, inns and a historic general store with creative and hearty fare as well as craft beer and wines. The trails host beautifully appointed canvas tents (similar to yurts) nestled in the forest. More primitive camping options exist close to town.
Parking is a available at Sweet Georgia Ps at Amee Farm on route 100 (Barn Dance trailhead), though the bridge is out a little way up the trail, next to the white barn at Riverside Farm on Tweed River Drive (Noodles Revenge trailhead), or at the end of Tweed River Drive (Green Trail trailhead) mid mountain. In the case of a wedding or other event, alternative parking is available at Bikram Yoga Pittsfield or the village green. Find trail conditions and more info at www.gmtrails.org, and on their Facebook page.