Words by Vince Hempsall. Photos by Ryan Thibault.
A little while ago we were contacted by trail builder Matt Baatz who had heard about our guide book project and offered to take us on a tour of what he called the “Green Mountain Trails” in Pittsfield. We asked around and none of our friends had ever been there before so, despite fears we’d have to slog through double track “trails” in some flooded field somewhere, we told Matt we’d meet him for a ride.
And are we ever glad we did.
Pittsfield is like the Field of Dreams for mountain bikers: amazing trails in the middle of nowhere that’ve been built and you will come. (We half expected to run into Kevin Costner but then we realized he was on tour with his band Modern West…who sing modern western music…douchebags.)
Pittsfield’s Green Mountain Trails are the best kept secret in Vermont – they boast some of the most amazing singletrack the state has to offer and there’s no fee to ride. (Although there is a donation box at the trail entrance beside the stash of trail maps.) The majority of the land here is owned by Wall Street investor Joe DeSena who is a hardcore endurance athlete in his downtime. He bought the organic farm where the trailhead is located as well as the Amee Farm Lodge across the street that is now one of the fanciest looking B&Bs in the state. And then he set about funding trail maintenance and launching events here like The Spartan Death Race. (Check it out at www.youmaydie.com – seriously.)
According to Matt there are about 20 miles of mountain biking trails in Pittsfield and you probably won’t die on any of them. You will have a lot of fun though. The 1000-foot ascent is mellow, the descents are awesome and there’s everything from maple jungle bench cuts, bomb-proof berm tracks, stream crossings and stunning views from the top of Joe’s Peak.
And there’s good news for lazy fat asses like ourselves. You can shuttle up Tweed River Drive, park at the hut and then bike 300 feet up Green Trail to access the fun downs like, our favorites, The Stairs, Warman and Fusters. (The latter is named for the old farmer who used to own the land here.)
Jason Hayden was one of the original trail builders in the area and today Matt Baatz maintains them. He lives in the barn at the trailhead, which is super easy to get to. From Interstate 89 take exit 3 west on 107 and follow until it merges with 100 South. Drive until you see the giant totem pole with the bike wheel on the left beside the big grey barn. Park here.
Amenities in Pittsfield include the Clear River Tavern, Picarellos Pizza and the full service General Store. Click here for a copy of the trail map which includes the locations of these businesses.
My little Vermont secret…even better in winter!!!!
My girlfriend and our trusty yellow lab “Stella” went to these trails for the first time last fall and we were so freakin happy we did. Killer trails, very well built and so much damn fun. We rode them all and were spent. Thanks Matt..ya build some sweet trails man.
Dude, were you at Leddy beach the last hot day we had? This guy with a girlfriend keeps yelling STELLA! at this dog of his. It was yellow, but not sure if a lab or what.
I was recently talking to Patrick Kell, friend and Executive Director of VMBA. We were discussing the fantastic riding in Pittsfield and he informed me of an important detail we left out in our profile. VMBA played a crucial role in the Green Mtn Trails’ development, having procured a $20,000 grant in 2008 before Matt’s arrival. Money that was spent in 2009 and 2010. Go team!
Actually, it sounds better coming from Patrick directly:
“in 2008 the Vermont Mountain Bike Association secured a grant of $20,000 from the Vermont Recreational Trails Program for the Green Mountain Trails in Pittsfield VT. These funds were used in 2009 and 2010 to build sections of singletrack, along with bridges and berms on the Riverside Farm property. The work was completed by the VYCC, the Pittsfield Mountain Bike Club (a chapter of VMBA) and by Brooke Scatchard and his outfit, Sinuosity. The Pittsfield trails are a gem and along with the trails nearby in the Green Mountain National Forest, this network could become a really popular destination in the coming years. VMBA also outfitted the Pittsfield Mountain Bike Club will an extensive tool cache via a grant from the Bikes Belong Coalition.”
Yup, VMBA and the folks Patrick mentioned played an important and crucial role in getting the trails alive and kicking. Over the last year and a half or so, with the help of Jason Hayden, Joe DeSena and the Pittsfield Bike Club I’ve been trying to keep us on that path. I think its working!
By the way, Chris, I remember the day you guys rode well. You handed me my first donation ever and a jar of your awesome peanut butter from Vermont Peanut Butter Co. How cool is that? If you thought the trails were fun last fall, I think you’re in for a pleasant surprise the next time you drop by….
Hey Matt, see chitra’s comment below. Thanks
Training for World Championship Death Race
Hey great report and it was very interesting to read about Jason Hayden’s kids in the latest Killington Ski magazine. I was wondering, can one hike these trails or is only mountain biking that is allowed?
Good question. Matt (see above) is the local trail steward. He would be the one to ask.
I do not bike, are these trails available to hikers also?? I have stones for family members being placed along the stone steps leading up to summit. Would love to visit and see them.
The trails have always been multiuse and the stairway to the top adds an exclusive hike to the mix. The best hikes are the ones that lead to the beautiful panorama at the summit–Green Trail from mid mountain or the stone stairs from the bottom. There are also many trail runners and snowshoers who enjoy the trails. Michelle, who has run hundreds of miles on these trails, recently started placing stones along the stairway to honor those who are battling or have battled cancer.