The Ascutney Trails are located on the eastern border of Vermont, right off of 91. If you’re traveling north into VT on 91, this would be an excellent spot to check out. The trails start in the parking lot of a former ski resort based here, with a large parking area available off of Ski Tow Road. The trails were built by Sport Trails of the Ascutney Basin (STAB), a VMBA chapter. Maps, which I would recommend, are at several local stores.
There are two parking areas- the parking area off Ski Tow Road gets you to the green/blue section and takes you across an interesting traverse through several fields and back yards to get to the main trails. This area is pretty, and mostly easy. The other trailhead is off of Coaching Lane, and starts off directly in the advanced trails.
The trails are well constructed, with well done bridges and berms seen on the lower sections. We elected to climb up from the Ski Tow parking area, and in this lower area is a bridged section in front of a pretty waterfall. The entire low section is scenic and I’d recommend doing it your first time there.
The climb up is fairly easy, but there are several sweet features that used natural rock faces, creative winding around trees, and several rooty sections adding some mild tech to the climb.
After the climb, we started hitting the more technical trails. There is a nice advanced loop from Cloud Climber – Lynx – Escalator – Rock N Roll – Paradise Hill. The rock feature usage here is exceptional! The trail builders did an amazing job of maximizing the natural features, with several impressive sections climbing up a staggered cliff. My group found ourselves frequently commenting on how well built the trail was. Rock N Roll is a must ride for the advanced rider. The one thing we found was the trails were not overly handlebar friendly- found several spots where our handlebars would not fit or had millimeters of clearance.
Unfortunately, it rained while we were riding, and yet amazingly, the rock retained a ton of traction unlike much of Vermont’s rock. One of my riding buddies is a geochemist, and noted that this rock is similar to slickrock seen out in the West. According to him, “The upper part of the mountain is a mix of granite and other rocks similar to granite. The relatively big crystals that make up the rock give it a grip exactly like sandstone.” In other words, the rock features are amazing to ride!
Overall, the Ascutney Trails were a pleasure to ride. There is something there for everyone, and skilled riders will particularly be rewarded with skillfully built black level trails. At the end of the ride the lot seems particularly amenable to tailgating, likely given the ski-lot feel. So grab your favorite beer before you head there. Finally, thanks to Bryan and Tony for exploring and taking photos with me!
Check out the Ascutney Trails website at http://ascutneytrails.com/