There’s nothing better than having a hardcore day out on the trails with your friends and then following it up with a beer afterwards. To be honest, it’s often one of the best parts of the day, reliving all the epic moments, retelling all the funny stories, and even engaging in a little trash talk with each other about the silly mishaps of the day that so and so, or maybe even you, will never live down.
What makes these conversations even better is when you end up hanging out at a pub that has a selection of craft brews from near and far that covers the tastes of everyone at the table from the IPA lover to vanilla porter pounder. Luckily for riders in Vermont, you have found yourself in the state that has more breweries per capita than any other, leaving you with plenty of local craft beer offerings from which to choose. However, there are some spots that just can’t be beat.
Here are four can’t-be-missed mountain biking trails around Burlington and the most perfect spots to grab a pint after you’re done playing on them:
1. Kingdom Trails and Mike’s Tiki Bar
Located in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom town of East Burke about an hour and a half outside of Burlington, the Kingdom Trails are some of the best in New England, and have even been touted as some of the best riding in the country by Bike Magazine and Dirt Rag. This trail network, maintained by the Kingdom Trails Association, offers over 100 miles of single and doubletrack through forest, pasture, and countryside, making for not only great riding, but an amazing setting and stunning views of Willoughby Gap as well. And once you’ve finally gotten your fill of riding for the day, pop into town where you will find a very welcoming vibe and people supportive of the mountain biking community.
Once in town, be sure you find yourself at Mike’s Tiki Bar. Yes, you heard correctly, a tiki bar in northern Vermont, the first of its kind to be sure. It’s outdoors and offers close to 40 beers on tap, many of them local such as those from Fiddlehead, Zero Gravity, and Shed, as well as cider from Citizens Cider in Burlington. Food here comes from the Vermont Food Truck Company who sets up shop at the Tiki Bar. Grab a delicious burger, burrito or wrap, and some fries to go along with that brew. Mike’s Tiki Bar is open Monday-Friday from 3pm to close, and Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to close during mountain biking season only.
2. Perry Hill and The Reservoir
A little closer to town, in Waterbury, you’ll find Perry Hill, another hot spot for mountain biking. And, while it’s much smaller than the Kingdom Trails, its steep climbs and technical lines will provide even hardcore mountain bikers with a great workout and a good ride. Maintained by the Waterbury Area Trail Alliance (WATA), Perry Hill is a locals’ favorite. You’ll be met right at the start with one of the network’s steepest climbs, but suck it up, it’s the only way to access the rest of the trails. Once you get yourself to the top, you will find the trails to be more rolling and technical offering nice options for a fun day out.
Another benefit to Perry Hill is that it is located in the ever-growing town of Waterbury that has a plethora of good restaurants to check out post-ride. But, like Perry Hill, The Reservoir, aka The Res, is the locals’ favorite. There is no denying that it has the best beer list in town. With 38 beers on tap they boast brews from some of the hottest breweries in Vermont, including Hill Farmstead and Lawson’s as well as Rock Art and Zero Gravity. And, you can get everything from soup and salad to burgers and sandwiches to full-on entrees like steak and fried chicken to help wash down your beer. It offers a super casual atmosphere and there’s no doubt you’ll most likely find yourself sitting next to a local at the bar rather than a tourist. Sit outside, play pool, enjoy live music, chat up a local, watch the big game, or just enjoy your friends. The Res is open 3pm to late Monday through Friday and 11am to late on Saturday and Sunday.
3. Cady Hill and The Bench
It’s not hard to find a good pint after you hit these trails. Located almost directly across the street from the Cady Hill Trailhead is The Bench. Owned by the same people who own The Res, The Bench is a bit more upscale than its Waterbury counterpart. A wood-fired oven greets you upon entering, and the decor is rustic and classy. They have an impressive selection of beers, both local and from afar, and offer a full bar and wine list as well. The food here is good too. The menu has everything from wings to mussels and meatloaf to duck, but their wood-fired pizzas are tough to beat. The only downside is that it can get a little crowded, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of good beer to keep you company during your wait.
4. Adams Camp and the Matterhorn
Just down the road from Cady Hill, you’ll find Adams Camp. This 5-mile loop is one of the most fun in the area. Made up of the ascent trail, Hardy Haul, a 2.2 mile machine-built trail, and the descent trail, Kimmers, a 1.3 mile technical masterpiece with rock drops, bridges, and other obstacles, this ride will have you working on the way up and laughing, but challenged on the way down. A small stint on the Haul Road which connects Hardy’s with Kimmers gets you to an even five. This loop will be enjoyed best by intermediate or advanced riders. Adams Camp is also maintained by the Stowe Mountain Bike Club, whose trail map, as mentioned above, can be found in many of the local bike shops and various other local businesses.
When you’re done riding here, it’s impossible to miss The Matterhorn on your way out. You have to drive right by it, so stop in and indulge yourself with pint of local craft brew, a wood-fired pizza, or even some sushi. You can sit inside the lively pub or in the more upscale dining room overlooking the river. The beer is good, as is evidenced by the numerous, yet artfully stickered, 22-ounce mug club tankards hanging from the bar’s ceiling and the t-shirts they sell are sure to get a laugh and start a conversation. The sushi is impressive as well. In addition to their full menu of fresh, local salads and American cuisine, The Matterhorn offers a full sushi bar every day except Mondays, and you can get three rolls for the price of two on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. This is a great spot for fun conversation and an energetic vibe. The Matterhorn is open at 5pm daily, noon on Saturdays and they have live music every Friday and Saturday night beginning at 9:30pm.