Your Guide to Vermont’s Best Fall Foliage Rides
From rolling road rides and family-friendly singletrack to downhill bike parks, Vermont has world-class routes for leaf peepers of every kind
Vermont is beloved for a ton of reasons—not least of which is its epic riding. With singletrack for every level of mountain biker, road routes as charming as they are challenging, and a seemingly endless network of gravel options, the Green Mountain State is home to some of the best cycling in the country. And it only gets better in the fall, when vast maple forests erupt in orange-yellow-gold glory. Another factor that makes Vermont such a world-class cycling destination—its small towns and wide-open countryside—is also one of the reasons the state has been able to reopen safely. Whether you’re a roadie or a downhiller, a newbie or seasoned expert, here’s a look at the best fall rides Vermont has to offer.
Kingdom Trails: Singletrack Heaven
Ask any serious mountain biker to rattle off their bucket-list riding destinations and Kingdom Trails, northern Vermont’s 100-plus-mile network of premium singletrack, is bound to come up. Not sure where to start? Book a room at the Inn at Mountain View Farm, a 440-acre estate boasting an animal sanctuary and yoga barn. With direct access to some of Kingdom Trails’ more mellow terrain, it’s the perfect place for warm-up laps, new riders, and families.
Loosen up on Harp Trail, an easy, flowy singletrack loaded with big berms, before stepping it up to Fenceline, a whimsical forested route that descends 260 vertical feet on loamy dirt. For lunch, head to the Northeast Kingdom Country Store in East Burke and order a Gobbler, which is basically Thanksgiving dinner between two pieces of bread. Then go hit the three T’s: Troll Stroll, Tap and Die, and Tody’s Tour, all fast rides with quick turns through tight trees and fun rollovers. When you’re worked, grab a local Vermont ale at the Mike’s Tiki Bar, then tuck into a big plate of pasta at Foggy Goggle Osteria.
The LAMB Ride: The Ultimate Road Loop
Vermont’s Green Mountains are laced with scenic roads that wind through valleys and over steep passes, or gaps, as they’re called up here. The best way to explore them is via the state’s famous LAMB (Lincoln, Appalachian, Middlebury, and Brandon Gaps) ride: a 100-mile pedal that takes you up and over multiple passes and can be downed in one big push, curtailed into multiple out-and-backs, or split up into palatable day rides.
Regardless of how you break it up, the best way to start is by spending your first night in the town of Rochester at the Pumpkin Patch Bed and Breakfast, a quaint Greek Revival-style home. After tackling the first section, a mellow 12-mile climb up Brandon Gap, take a break at Branbury State Park to take in the bounty of fall color reflecting off of Lake Dunmore. Next up: Middlebury Gap, a twisty ride under a canopy of evergreens. At the top, stop at the Ripton Country Store for a locally made Chessters ice cream sandwich before heading through rolling farmland toward the town of Warren.
You can spend the night here at The Pitcher Inn, easily one of the most beautiful hotels in all of Vermont, before tackling the climb to Lincoln Gap, home to one of the steepest miles of pavement in the U.S., and then Appalachian Gap, completing this epic loop and descending back to Rochester again.
Killington: The Best Gravity-Fed Playground
Killington’s lift-accessed downhill mountain-biking trails, like its ski trails, are some of the state’s best. That’s because the resort started building trails in 1993 and, over the past five years, has spent $7.5 million expanding and improving upon them. If you’re new to downhilling, rent a bike from the ski area and take a two-hour lesson, where you’ll learn everything from proper body position on the bike to how to ride bermed turns.
If downhill is your jam, buy a lift ticket and start your day on Step It Up, a smooth, flowy trail that’s the perfect warm-up run. Next try Crusty, a mile of banked turns, loamy dirt, and two-foot drops. And when you’re ready to tackle the gnarliest descent, ride the gondola to the top of the mountain and drop Scarecrow to Steel Panther to Low Rider.
End the day with foliage views and a craft beer at the Killington Grand Resort Hotel and a proper feast at Preston’s—the restaurant is located inside the hotel and is a member of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, which advocates for sustainability and locally sourced food.
The Gravel Ride of Your Dreams
Fun fact: Vermont has more dirt roads (over 8,000 miles) than paved roads (just over 7,000 miles). Basically, it’s a gravel rider’s Shangri-la. And one of the best ways to experience the state’s unpaved roads, says Kris Dennon, owner and lead guide of Vermont’s GravelTours.com, is a roughly 80-mile loop in southern Vermont that can be tackled in one day or split into a multi-day ride.
After spending the night in the town of Manchester at The Equinox Resort, a historic hotel with a spa, pool, and five different restaurants, you’ll pedal south toward East Arlington, passing under brightly colored maple-tree canopies on 200-year-old roads. You’ll then hit the old International Paper Road, one of the few routes in Green Mountain National Forest that allows bikes, riding past beaver ponds and, if you’re lucky, a wading moose or two.
Once in Bondville, the ride takes you through farmland pastures to the town of Peru. Refuel at the historic J.J. Hapgood Store (we recommend the buttermilk fried-chicken sandwich) and, if you’ve got the time, spend the night at the nearby Seesaw’s Lodge, a brand-new, impeccably designed property with guest rooms and cabins. In the morning, head toward Danby and Mad Tom Road. From there, it’s back to Manchester and the Equinox, where you can soothe your tired, sore legs with a deep-tissue massage at the hotel spa.
The Catamount Trails: Family-Friendly Mountain Biking
The ideal spot for families and anyone looking for gentler routes, the Catamount Trails consist of 20 miles of singletrack and doubletrack in the town of Williston. You and your clan can stay right on the property at the Catamount Bed and Breakfast, a brick home built in 1796 by the first governor of Vermont. From there, it’s a short pedal to the trails, where you’ll find fairly flat terrain that winds through evergreen forests.
The most rugged trail in the network, Coyote Turnpike, is a little steeper and has some small drops, but it’s still easy enough for an intermediate rider. Plus, the views of Camel’s Hump from the top of the trail, especially at sunset during peak fall foliage, are tough to beat. Kids will also love the pump tracks; the smaller of the two can be handled on a Strider bike, while the other is the perfect place for an intermediate to work on riding skills. When you’re tired and hungry, head to Richmond, just ten minutes away, for burgers and beers at the Hatchet Tap and Table.
In Vermont, one thing is beautifully certain: The seasons will change. And with that change, so does the landscape, the recreation, and the way of life. With every season comes new opportunities to explore the world around you. Sign up to receive the latest news from the Green Mountain State, including the latest foliage updates through the fall season so you can time your trip just right.