When you ride the Millstone trails near Barre, Vermont, two things come to mind: First, where else in the world can you enjoy fun singletrack beside 19 quarry ponds with their steep, white walls and deep, grey-green water. Second, why the hell does a 60-mile network need 74 trail names?
Millstone…prepare to get lost.
Not that the local trails association hasnâ€™t extensively mapped the region and put signage on the trails. Itâ€™s just that, sometimes, thereâ€™s too much signage! At one point during our ride on the â€œ#6 Trailâ€ (which is, oddly, trail #1 on the map) we took a wrong turn and reached a crossroads with no less than 13 signs in 5 different colors pointing in 8 directions. Huh?
That said, Millstone is a fun place to get lost. It boasts everything from family-friendly double-track rides to technical cross-country trails littered with baby heads and tight switchbacks. There are 10 lookout points here that offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and abandoned quarry ponds.Seb Poutre and Vince Hempsall on the Ring Trail
And, because the area is so rocky, it dries out faster than other trail networks making it the place to be in the Spring. Itâ€™s also the place to be on humid summer days because itâ€™s naturally air conditioned: water seeps into the myriad of cracks and fissures in the rock here and freezes during the winter. The rock then acts as an insulator in the summer, keeping the ground and surrounding area cool.
All the trails are located on Millstone Hill, a giant knob of granite that the Rock of Ages company has been quarrying for years. (The business is still active here although on a neighboring hill.)Chris Lesser on the Ring Trail
Getting to the Millstone Trails can be a challenge because theyâ€™re located in the now-defunct town of Websterville, northwest of East Barre. Hereâ€™s the easiest way to get there: Take Route 302, turn onto 110 to East Barre and then take an immediate right onto Mill Street. Turn right onto Websterville Road and follow this until Gregoire Street. Turn right and follow Gregoire St. straight onto Church Hill Rd. The Touring Center is the large, yellow building with all the flags hanging from it. Parking is in the lot on the right, just before you reach the store itself.
Thereâ€™s a $10 daily fee to ride the trails and that includes the price of the map. (A seasonâ€™s pass is only $40.)
Our favorite trails include the â€œFellowship Ring,â€ â€œZig Zag,â€ and, well, all of the advanced trails really. Also the new trails â€œScreaming Demonâ€ and â€œRoller Coasterâ€ are examples of Millstoneâ€™s foray into freeride â€“ for advanced riders, they may seem a bit mini-golf but for someone just getting into freeriding, these trails are a great challenge.
Thereâ€™s plenty here to take the kids on as well (â€œEast Barre Trailâ€ or â€œFarm Trailâ€) but if youâ€™re going to explore trails like â€œGrand Lookoutâ€ and â€œGrand Canyonâ€ with them, keep well clear of quarry edges which do not have fences at the top.
To help make sense of the Millstone trails and to get the map, drop in to the touring center and say hi to Cindy. Sheâ€™ll set you straight.