Kingdom Trails (East Burke, Vermont)
Vermont's Northeast Kingdom has long been a haven for an oddball mix of loggers, hippies, and ski bums. But the region is undergoing a face-lift courtesy of the rapidly growing mountain-biking commune of East Burke. In the 1980s a few local riders started to bike logging roads in the surrounding wilderness. By 1994 they'd formed the nonprofit Kingdom Trails Association to coordinate with landowners and build a network of trails. Now the one gas station village draws 300 mountain bikers to its 100-plus-mile network of trails on weekends. The lure, beyond the supportive local landowners, is a unique sandy esker that skirts the hillside town. The glacial deposit drains runoff quickly, so the trails stay dry even after heavy rains. "We're ski bums up here, so we don't like going slowly and hopping rocks," says C.J. Scott, trails coordinator for Kingdom Trails. "We make bike trails that allow us to feel like we're flying through a glade in wintertime."