Words and images by Ryan Thibault-Article to be supplemented with a Kingdom Trails map found at East Burke Sports or the Kingdom Trails office in down town East Burke
Picking just one great intermediate loop out of 100 miles of Kingdom Trails is difficult. In the 10 years I’ve been riding here in Burke, I don’t think I’ve done the same route twice. Luckily, we were able to reach out to local freeride ambassador Knight Ide for advice. Knight’s suggestion is a giant, counter-clockwise loop that can be enjoyed by any level of rider – but if you’re a progressive XCer with a penchant for going fast and catching air, this is definitely for you.
Start behind East Burke Sports and ride the pavement up East Darling Hill Road. (I know it’s a bit unorthodox to start a ride with a few miles of paved road but trust us, you’ll be happy you conserved your energy.) The top of the hill affords one of the most spectacular views in Burke. Once you reach the beautiful farm at its crest, head across the parking lot and into the trail network by heading left onto the pastoral “Loop Trail” followed by “Bemis.” Don’t get too comfy sitting on your saddle because one of Burke’s most riveting downhill roller coasters “Tap and Die” is on your right.
“Tap and Die” is ridiculously fun and the faster you go the better. Downhill lines lead to quick ups and over sweeping berms. This one is a must do, but beware – this trail is multi-directional, and though rare, you may find uphill traffic approaching; all the more reason to hoot and holler on your decent.
From “Tap and Die,” follow “River Run South” (left off Tap and Die’s exit) and cut the first bend in the trail with a quick blast through “Webbs.” This takes you back to “River Run” and there’s a great swimming hole and lunch spot ahead on the right. After a pit stop to admire cedars along the river, head onto the mellow “Violet’s Outback.”
Here we have many options but Knight gives us two:
If you are feeling a bit underpowered, head straight through “Violet’s” onto “Jaw” to continue an abridged version of this loop. Not to worry, there is plenty of cupped earth awaiting your return ride.
The second choice is a more aggressive and longer jaunt. Head up the flowing switchbacks through the sparse pine forest on “Old Webbs.” Go past the pavilion and turn right and head back down. This trail will take you back to the major intersection where “Old Webb’s, “Meadow Woods,” “Violet’s”, and “Hog Back” meet. Head onto “Hog Back”
and then left onto “Sidewinder.”
“Sidewinder was rated the trail with “Most Flow” by Bike magazine a few years back. We concur. Do not skip this trail, it is literally the singletrack equivalent of an Olympic-size snowboard half pipe! And once you are done, Knight recommends you climb back up “West Branch” and do it again. I would list this as optional but he’s pretty adamant: Do it twice!
From the top of “West Branch” hit the two “Border” side trails and then onto “Jaw,” “Maxilla,” and the double track “Sugar Hill.” Once on “Sugar Hill” take a quick left up “Ridge,” which will lead you down to “Rim.” Both are aggressive XC riding. At the bottom of “Rim” you’ll definitely be feeling the burn. Take a right onto â€œEast Branch,â€ right again onto “Easy Out” and right again onto “Vast.” You will cross your own tracks here.
Take “Vast” to “Bill Magill,” stay right and then go left on “Connector.” From here yourre homeward bound. Cruise down “Pines” until you hit “Vast” again and from here I recommend you save your energy for a grand finale. Take “Vast” and head straight until you hit a definitive end at a T-intersection and then make a right toward the top of “Kitchel,” one of the Kingdom’s signature machine-built trails.
I hope you saved a little juice in your legs because “Kitchel” is a blast. Pedal hard and fast and blast through the berms and over the whoops and small jumps. You’re not far from town now. Blast across the “Vast” trail and onto “Herbs,” down the sketchy wash, and into the village of East Burke. Welcome back! Now grab yourself a cold one, jump in the river and congratulate yourself for having completed one of the best rides the Kingdom Trails have to offer.