Venture Vermont: Dorset Mountain Bike Trails
Venture off the beaten mountain bike path to this hidden gem. The Dorset Mountain Bike trails will have you earning your turns and loving every minute of it. Here’s everything you need to know to have the best day riding these trails.
50 Church Street, Dorset, VT. Parking is located at the corner of Rte 30 & Church St in Dorset, VT surrounding along the “Village Green”. Estimated 37 minutes & 24 mile drive from Stratton Mountain.
What to Expect
After parking, ride SW on Church St for 0.3 miles until you reach West Rd. Turn left onto West Rd. and
look for the trailhead 150’ farther on your right. Current trail map HERE.
Don’t forget to use the restroom before leaving the house – there are no bathrooms at the trailhead, and restaurants in town prefer you not use theirs unless you’re a customer. Same goes for airing up & re-stocking your “stash pack” & ride essentials. Battenkill Sports is on your left 100 yards after passing under Rte 7 on your way into Manchester.
There are two singletrack trails from the trailhead, the 2.5 mi. out-&-back Humphrey’s trail & the Bunker Loop, a 0.7 mi. lollipop trail that adds some extra vertical & cool technical riding.
Both trails scream VT singletrack. Technical with 6” rock hits & knobby tree roots, armored stoneways, plank bridges, tight switchbacks, flowy rollers, and 750’ of elevation gain … what more could you ask for! Only downside is the mileage. A beginner rider will finish the 5.9 mile loop (from your car & back) in about 1.5 hours; an expert rider in 45 minutes. If you’re looking for extra credit though, ride it twice! Routes are in the works to add offshoots & connector trails to Merck on the backside of the Bunker Loop.
When riding, be sure to keep in mind some simple rules of the trail … 1. Yield! Uphill riders ALWAYS have the right-of-way … so do hikers & trail runners! 2. Stay off trails that aren’t open to riding, are too muddy (which will damage trails exponentially) or are on private land. 3. Leave No Trace – Pack it in, pack it out, & feel free to pick up others’ trash on your ride too. 4. Stick to the trail – it’s not cool to pass others or choose your own line.
- Hardtail or full-suspension mountain bike
- Bike shoes
- At least 1 full water bottle (hydration pack if you have one!)
- Light rain jacket (weather permitting)
- Small, easy-to-eat snack (Gus, Shot Blocks, Fig Newtons)
- Sunscreen & bug spray
- Camera (great views to snap shots and tag us #VentureVermont & @strattonresort)
What to Pack
Keep your “stash pack” filled & ready in case you need to break into it – spare CO2 canisters (and applicator), tire irons, multitool, spare tube, patch kit. You’ll never need it until you need it, so ride prepared.
The trails are free and open to the public, but we suggest bringing some money for Dorset’s lovely restaurants – nothing like a post-ride beer, soda, and burger. The Barrows House offers a real locals’ flavor & even tastier fare to match in this circa-1800’s gastropub. I’m a huge fan of the Truffled Popcorn & the “house” Barrows Burger, washed down with a pint of The Pitcher in the Ry – all for around $30 with the tip (open Wed-Sun @ 5:30pm … limited bar menu starting @ 4:30pm). Or, save up for a cone at Spiral Scoops or Ben & Jerry’s in Manchester on your drive back up to Stratton.
Who can do this?
Great trail for intermediates-advanced riders to get some serious climbing in … also perfect for riders who are currently comfortable navigating rail-trails but seeking their first taste at singletrack riding. Recommended for kids ages 12+ who can pedal hard and sleep even harder on the drive back!
What we learned
This is the area’s newest trail system, and it’s getting rave reviews from locals & destination bikers alike … for good reason. Everything you’re looking for in a singletrack trail, these trails have it in 3 short miles. Best times to ride are before 9am (you’ll have the whole place to yourself plus it’s a cooler start to the day) or in the afternoon before 4pm (when bike junkies get off work to rip). The trails are well-shaded from direct sunlight, but don’t stop at bridges for long … they’re there to get you over water features, which make for homes suitable to black flies & gnats.
Hands-down the coolest feature is the 100’ long pine bridge that twists through a fern forest just before hopping onto the Bunker Loop. You get to ride it both ways & the flow is incredible. Hardpack dirt lined by tall green ferns makes for a cool photo opp if you remember your camera!
Have you ventured these trails, or will you venture them with our travel guide? We want to hear your story and see your photos! Share you photo on Instagram with the hashtag #VentureVermont and tag @strattonresort.
Header photo credit: Ariel Macrae
About the Author:
Steve Croucher | Steve’s true passion outside of work is training for off-road triathlon … coaching Masters Swimming, grinding up local MTB singletrack, & trail running nearby Equinox and Bromley peaks. Originally from York, PA, Steve spent three years in Vail, CO before moving back to the East Coast to coordinate activities, programs, & events with Stratton Mountain. Steve also enjoys cooking, catching The Walking Dead, NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on Saturday mornings, family BBQ’s, and a strong Moscow Mule on Friday nights.
Interested in road cycling as well? Check out Venture Vermont: Cycling the Green Mountains