Three land owners in East Burke, Vermont have cut off access to mountain bikers, limiting use and connectivity in the popular Kingdom Trails network, according to the Caledonian Record.
The Caledonian Record writes that they have confirmed this with Kingdom Trails Executive Director Abby Long.
Although these three landowners are a small handful of the 97 that control the land that the Kingdom Trails are on, the closure seems to affect a large portion, and some of the network’s best trails, located off of Darling Hill Rd.
“We fully respect their decision, as it is their private property and they have the sole right to determine the use of their land,” wrote the Kingdom Trails Association in a statement. The three land managers have only cut off access for mountain bikes, leaving access for other user groups like hikers intact.
The Kingdom Trails have always offere a great example for how mountain bikers can successfully work with private land owners to attain access to great trails, eased by Vermont’s statute that protects private landowners from liability.
The three land owners addressed their concerns and why they chose to cut off mountain bike access in a letter to the Kingdom Trails Association, but the trails organization told the Caledonian Record that they’re not comfortable sharing what the land owners said.
There are of course plenty of thoughts floating around in the comments section of a few posts on the Kingdom Trails Association’s Facebook page, as well as an image of the trails that have supposedly been affected.
A few Facebook users mentioned that mountain bikers have been disrespectful to these land owners, but with the Kingdom Trails Association choosing to remain silent about the letters, this can’t be confirmed at the moment.
The Kingdom Trails have been heavily publicized as a destination over the past few years, drawing more and more attention and crowds to the trail network.
“Kingdom Trails understands the concerns for the pressure and stress the continued strong growth in trail use and area visits has put on landowners’ properties as well as the roads and small villages where trail access exists,” says the Kingdom Trails Association. “While the success of the trails has brought meaningful economic benefit to the area, challenges and tension points exist around traffic, congestion, and pedestrian safety of residents and visitors alike.”
The USDA awarded the trails organization a grant to study the feasibility of implementing a welcome center for visitors, where to put more parking, and how to ease and balance traffic and congestion.
The study is due to be complete near the end of 2020. In the meantime, Kingdom Trails Association is continuing congestion mitigation and new projects in the Darling Hill area of the network, where the closed off trails are located. Kingdom Trails have already purchased two parcels of land right off of Darling Hill Rd., securing access in critical points, they say.
We’re reaching out to officials at Kingdom Trails Association and others for more insight as this story is developing.
This is very sad. A number of those trails are among the most fun in all of KT. And to the extent that this was driven by the behaviors of MTB’ers is truly unfortunate. Too many take what we have today for granted not realizing that in many places access to trails are a privilege, not a right.
only takes a few pricks that disregard the safety of others or that want display a shitty attitude and thats how we loose access.
My husband and I have been riding at Kingdom Trails for 20 years, making the 8 hour pilgrimage annually from the mid-Atlantic area. It is our favorite place to ride and we have ridden in over 20 states, so that is saying something. Over that time we have seen the quality and quantity of the trails improve dramatically and the number of riders increase exponentially. Sadly, we have experienced first-hand rudeness of riders – especially in the last 3 -4 years. Mountain bikers have lost access to great trails across the country because of rudeness, disrespect for other trail users and a misplaced sense of entitlement.
East Burke is a small community and while KT has created economic growth, it has also created pressure on local infrastructure. The community is managing through these growing pains, but riders need to do their part. When riding in town, look before riding across the street, pay attention to cars, logging trucks etc – these people are making a living in the community. Riders are visitors. Riders have the responsibility to interact with each other, other trail users and the community with respect or we will continue to lose access.
Always a bunch of asswipes that f*** it up for everyone. Wanted to go there for the first time ever this year. Good job ass****!
We are all afraid of this
I am knew to this forum.
Folks, do we really need to swear??
Slow down. Say hello. Wish everyone a great day. Clean up. Ride really hard.
Everyone needs to talk to everyone. If you see bad behavior you need to say something.
I share everyone’s frustration. Hopefully there will be resolution. I recently moved to Toronto from Vancouvers North Shore and truly great riding out east is hard to find. Therefore I was excited this past summer To make the trek to Vermont. We had a great time. The MTB scene is what made trip worthwhile. I was impressed how MTB could transform a small out of the way village and turn it into a destination. The entire economy hinges on MTB. But the affected trails are definitely the best ones we rode. Without them it’s likely we won’t be back. I fear the loss will seriously impact the viability of the economy there.
Thankfully in Canada we rarely experience these issues as most rideable land is public.
I do sympathize with the landowners though. It’s their land to do with as they please but their little community will suffer for their decision.
I can’t imagine what must have transpired to create this sad situation. Even obnoxious riders are few and far between and very transitory and i wonder what they could have done.
Trails kind of need to be used for single use . Mountaineers hate the motos and horses as they do substantial damage to the trails . Hikers dont care for any of the wheel type uses and probably the same for horses . Its just really difficult to share the trails with these different methods so somebody is going to loose out . Hikers usually always get the right of way because they are the most vulnerable
Actually form my experience hikers and bikers are pretty respectful but you can see a hiker on the edge of a narrow trail to let a bike go by it does look uncomfortable and a bummer for the hiker especially if the bikers is coming down the trail at speed
Motos tear up everything . Leave huge gouges in the land and go off trail often . I have seen hoses go out in soft wet ground and leave big holes on the trail . you may find hikers that leave trash on the trail . Now for the most part people are pretty got but if 10 percent are not that will leave allot of damage and if its private land that is apt to happen more than park lands that are managed
Northern New England has been having an economic downward trend for decades with mills shutting down. This is devastating for many towns that are seeing young people leaving and housing markets tumbling. I live in North Conway where we are at a major turning point in our mountain bike development. We have 100s of thousands of dollars in grants that will be spent over the next few years in building out our already excellent network. North Conway would be nothing if it wasn’t for tourism and has been that way for the last 100 years. There are many that do not want to see the area built out and more widely advertised. I fall into the group of folks that think that without people from out of town coming to our area and spending money we would be a very depressed town. We have a huge infrastructure already in place (bars, hotels, restaurants, brew pubs) in a magnificently beautiful environment. East Burke didn’t have much going on during the summer months and I image there are a lot of small business owners that are thrilled with the increase in tourism. I hope that KTA and the town can work out their issues and continue to grow their network. Small towns and need jobs/money to be viable. I hope the village does not cut its nose off to spite their face.
Up in northern New England has been having an economic downward trend for decades with mills shutting down. This is devastating for many towns that are seeing young people leaving and housing markets tumbling. I live in North Conway where we are at a major turning point in our mountain bike development. We have 100s of thousands of dollars in grants that will be spent over the next few years in building out our already excellent network. North Conway would be nothing if it wasn’t for tourism and has been that way for the last 100 years. There are many that do not want to see the area built out and more widely advertised. I fall into the group of folks that think that without people from out of town coming to our area and spending money we would be a very depressed town. We have a huge infrastructure already in place (bars, hotels, restaurants, brew pubs) in a magnificently beautiful environment. East Burke didn’t have much going on during the summer months and I image there are a lot of small business owners that are thrilled with the increase in tourism. I hope that KTA and the town can work out their issues and continue to grow their network. Small towns and need jobs/money to be viable. I hope the village does not cut its nose off to spite their face.
It is a real shame I’ve been meaning to head over that way I’ve heard so much about the trails
I went last year after hearing all the hype and wasn’t overly impressed. A nice little town but I found the trails to be underwhelming , definitely good for novice to intermediate riders. I personally am not concerned at all because there are much better places to ride. East Burke probably needs mountain bikers more than we need them
I live here and the rumor mill is that one of the landowners that rides horses was told they had no right being on the trails…on their land. I’m sure even if this is true it is not the entire reason, but it would sure not help in any way. Here is to crossing our fingers it’s just a warning call and an agreement will be reached before the season opens.
I wonder if you got outside the Darling Hill trails up on the mountain and out toward East Haven. Darling Hill is a bit manicured I agree, city folks eat this up, but there is much more than Darling Hill, and now I fully expect a whole slew of new trails on what I consider better terrain, big climbs and more technical down. Someday I would like to see a climb from town to the summit of Burke, 5 or 6 miles 2,100′ vertical. East coast riders are allergic to climbs I think.
I always go in with the assumption that any trail on any private property is subject to closure at any time. And the more time goes by, the more likely a closure is coming, due to inconsiderate trail users, change of ownership, or even just the whim of the current owner.
We’re constantly losing access to trails on our public where supposedly some sort of review process must take place; obviously access to lands where no such process must be followed is even more precarious.
Looks like some trails in Rotorua, NZ were also recently closed due to mountain bikers behaving disrespectfully:
Hopefully these incidents make us all consider if we’re being good stewards and representatives of mountain biking the next time we’re out on the trail.
I’ve made the trek up to Kingdom Trails three years in a row now, the trails there are that good. Unfortunately some of the absolute best trails are the ones effected by this ban and this really sucks, no way to sugar coat it. I can’t speak for other riders, but I don’t think I would make the long hike up there with these no longer available and that’s really sad.
I don’t think any of the land owners or locals up there could have envisioned how popular it would become. Each year I came, I noticed more and more riders. Yes it brought more traffic, but with that, it brought a huge boost to the economy. Every time I came, I was happily spending money there. If you’ve never been to East Burke VT, there’s not much up there. Unlike Brevard NC or Bentonville AR that has big cities near by. East Burke is in the middle of nowhere. This change is going to impact the community. Sadly, the homes on Darling Hill appear to be well off. These land owners had massive houses that I would estimate to be in the millions. Perhaps they don’t care about how this effects the rest of the community as they appear to be more financially stable.
Follow the money???? Your very close to the truth is my guess Mr. mojo!!!!
I’m only weighing in here because I have ridden around the world. Yes it’s unfortunate and I hate that. I’ve never personally made it to this trail network. When it comes to the rudeness (we don’t know who said what or even if there are biases attached) I have noticed a pattern around mountain bikers. It almost always seems to be the ones who wear spandex or other tight fitted clothing with a “high-end”/latest bike and, or gear that seem to have the snotty attitude. Back before I had my Trek and then Yeti, I always got the nose flip at me no matter where I went, until I passed them on their trail and then the attitude kicked in, no matter how polite or kind you were. Not saying, but if I had to guess …well, I don’t know either. I have also seen the bias against mountain bikers about how they tear up the land, yet some of these same people have allowed horses. Anyway, appreciate the update and I’ll save a trip. Please remember to stay cool, you can only control your own blood pressure anyway.