Tips To Plan Your Vermont Mountain Bike Trip

Vermont Mountain Biking

The Green Mountains of Vermont are home to some truly must-ride mountain bike trails. From full downhill parks, trail systems in town parks to single track networks carved through the mountainsides, Vermont is home to the full range of mountain bike disciplines. The Vermont Mountain Bike Association is responsible for maintenance on over 1400+ miles of trails alone throughout the state. And the riders? Over 1% of Vermont’s entire population are members of VMBA. The size of the core mountain bike community in the state, and the dedication to supporting the various trail systems we all love to ride is unmatched in Vermont.

For first-time riders, or those looking to improve their skills in the saddle (see you’re learning already, that’s what the riders call a bike seat), Stratton is pleased to offer full-suspension mountain bike rentals and on-hill mountain bike lessons. When you rent from Stratton, there is no hassle around loading bikes in your car or truck and transporting them. Lessons occur on the trails, and you are taught and tested on true park features. Keep reading below for more information about mountain biking in Vermont!

Guide To Vermont Mountain Biking

What to wear mountain biking

What To Wear

  • Long-sleeve tee shirts or bike jerseys are worn by most riders in a downhill park. The long sleeves help protect against brush, cuts and scrapes should a fall occur.
  • Weather can change quickly in the mountains. A lightweight waterproof shell can go a long way for wind and cooler temperatures at elevation
  • Bike shorts or pants that have some stretch to them. Your body will be moving a lot to shift weight, corner, and pedal. If wearing pants, try to stick to something with a tighter fit, or elastic ankle. You do not want to get your pant leg stuck in the bike chain. 
  • Closed-toed shoes are a must. Look for bike-specific shoes or something with good sole grip. Think skateboard shoes (which work well), or a grippy athletic shoe. Depending on trail conditions your shoes are liable to get muddy! Wear an older pair if you’re in between two options!
  • Helmet. Helmets are required in the Stratton Bike Park, and almost all downhill bike parks. A full-face helmet is not required but is recommended for first-time riders, and usually preferred by downhill bikers.
  • Goggles, Sunglasses or Eye protection
  • Gloves, Knee Pads and Elbow Pads are optional but always recommended.

What to Pack

  • Water bottle or hydration bladder
  • Easy to eat snacks
  • Energy gels or gummies
  • Bike multitool
  • Phone or trail map
  • Backpack, hip pack or saddle pack. Optional, but the best way to carry the above items.
Family Mountain biking in Vermont

Vermont Mountain Bike Rentals

When you rent a mountain bike from First Run in the Stratton Village, you can assure yourself that you are working with the right tool for the job. Each bike model was picked by our staff to best suit our trails and features. Furthermore, the different models are best for the various riding styles of those who rent. When you rent a bike at the mountain, you do not have to worry about the transportation of the bike to and from the mountain in the back of your truck, or dangerously strapped to the top for your vehicle. Each mountain bike rental comes with a full set of protective pads, helmet, knee pads and elbow pads, which you will learn below are essential to your ride day.

And the best part? After a long day on the trails, drop off your muddy or dusty bike in the racks outside First Run, and go enjoy some dinner in the Village. No need to worry about getting a dirty bike back on top of your vehicle to go drop off down the street. Just worry about sharing the stoke, and high-fiving the crew!

Equipment

With vigorous testing, Stratton’s bike park staff, instructors, patrollers, and riders have selected some of their favorite gear brands in the bike industry for protective equipment, pads, bags and clothing. Check out our trusted brands below to pick up your new full-face helmet, knee pads, or a fresh bike jersey for the trails.

  • Smith: Helmets, goggles, sunglasses, water bottles, socks and jerseys
  • GoPro: Cameras, bike mounts, and helmet mounts to capture all the action
  • Smartwool: Merino wool bike socks
  • The North Face: Technical apparel, waterproof shells, and footwear to support your ride
  • Dakine: Bike gloves, jerseys, pants & shorts, bike shoes, hip packs, hydration backpacks, travel bike bags, knee/elbow pads, socks

Helmets

  • Helmet Types:
    • All-mountain riding or Enduro – If you are an All-mountain rider, you need a helmet that covers more of your head with full-face coverage options.
    • Downhill riding (DH) – This is the most technical style of bike riding, with bigger drops and long descents. A full-coverage helmet that has a downhill rating is recommended.
    • Cross Country (XC) – Cross Country style of riding is not as intensive as the other two. XC helmets have better ventilation features and are lightweight. These helmets also provide enough protection for users that plan to go uphill and downhill, while reducing weight and heat buildup.
Stratton Mountain bike park

Bike Styles

It is typically suggested that if you plan to ride singletrack outside of Stratton or plan to pedal often, you should look for an Enduro or XC bike. 

  • Downhill:  Most downhill bikes are going to have around 180-200mm of travel. They will generally use dual-crown forks because the additional upper crown adds stiffness for better control on rough trails and during impacts. The rear suspension will use a coil shock (or sometimes a downhill-specific air shock) that will easily absorb big hits, resist heating up during hard use, and give you more comfort and traction. 
  • Enduro: With suspension travel ranging from 150-180mm, Enduro bikes are much burlier than their shorter travel counterparts. This makes them much better suited to big drops, big hits, and big air. Enduro bikes are far more durable than cross-country bikes on downhill trails.
  • XC: Designed with climbing prowess, pedaling efficiency and a lighter overall weight figure in mind, the geometry of XC bikes will typically complement this. The bike setup is much steeper than the other bikes, which combined with a shorter wheelbase, provides nimble and snappy handling characteristics, perfect for navigating the single track and putting the power down when the trail points uphill.

Best Mountain Biking In Vermont

Vermont is full of incredible mountain bike trail networks and downhill parks. With the combination of lodging, a downhill bike park, an onsite full service bike shop, and a stay and ride lodging packages, and a Village containing restaurants and shops, Stratton Mountain is the perfect basecamp to base your next bike trip out of. Let’s dive into the trails and a day at the Stratton Bike Park to kick off your Vermont mountain bike road trip.

Stratton Park Tickets

Park tickets are for all-day access to the bike park. Tickets can be purchased online in advance, or in-person on the day you plan on riding at the HUB, Stratton’s ticketing location next to the base of the Gondola.

Vermont Mountain Bike Association Memberships (VMBA): Each VMBA annual membership includes lift tickets to various Vermont downhill parks (Stratton included), Discounts to local bike shops and restaurants, and more all for just $55. Check out all the membership benefits here.

How to load a bike on a chairlift

Vermont Mountain Bike Lessons

What’s the best way to get better at riding? Take a Mountain Bike Lesson! When you sign up for a lesson with Stratton’s Mountain Sports School, you will be blown away at how much progress you can make in a single day on the trails. Simple tips like when to break, how to grip the bars, pedal and foot position and body position can make a huge difference in your day on the trails. Our instructors will work with you and gauge the lesson to any ability to level. If you’re looking to get some first-time tips or looking to do a first-time whip off a jump, we’ll be here to give you our insights, cheer you on, and give out a high five when you stomp the landing.

How to use the lift

  • When it is your turn to get on the lift, you will load your bike on the carrier in front of your chair
  • Pick up on the handlebars and place your front tire on the carrier
  • Roll your bike forward on the carrier platform until your front wheel locks into place
  • Make sure your back tire is centered on the wheel platform
  • Pedals/cranks are in a horizontal position, so the bike is resting on its tires, and not your crank arm
  • Go to the marked chairlift loading point and wait for your chair.
  • Sit correctly on the chair for your ride. Lower the bar.
  • At the top, a Lift Attendant will unload your bike as it will reach the top before you do. 
  • The bike will be placed in the bike rack. Please grab your bike and exit the unloading deck promptly
  • Choose a trail below. Enjoy the ride!

Stratton’s Trail Breakdown

View our YouTube Playlist of Stratton Bike Park Trail Previews

  • Trail Forest One: The longest trail from the top, with the least amount of gradient. Trail Forest One is a great place to start with minimal freestyle features
  • Gravitas: Drops off to the left of Trail Forest One. Gravitas has great flow with bigger berms, several rock features, and a tabletop jump
  • Bermie Sanders: A flowing freestyle trail. Bermie Sanders has a wooden berm, tabletop jump, rollers, doubles, and many optional rocks and hits to jump off of.
  • Garden Gnomes: Stratton’s most technical trail. Garden Gnomes features multiple rock garden sections, rollers into berms, and shorter, deeper berms.
  • Short Straw: A quick option to ride when headed toward Trail Forest One. Short Straw has a quick berm section, followed by a low angle ride out
  • Wind Delay: Head down to the base area by way of larger switchback berms and rollers on a good pitch
  • First Impressions: These low angle berms are a great way to work on technique and focus on body position
  • Grinder: An uphill climbing trail
Vermont mountain bike packages

HELPFUL TIPS

Download trail maps – In Vermont, there is a high probability that you will run out of cell service before hitting the trailhead. This only gets worse once you pedal out into the middle of the woods. Be sure to screenshot or download your trail maps and area maps before your riding day. Ensure you have a GPS location and up-to-date maps while out of service on the trails. Trail Forks is a great app for this purpose.

Ride as a group – When out in the woods on a bike, it is always smart to ride with some. It’s always nice to have someone to help you spot features on the trail, share snacks with, split up bike repair tools, snap a sweet photo of you, and most of all share the good times. Always ride with a friend when possible.

Easy style it – Vermont features dense wooden areas that many of these trail systems run through. While some of them are very well maintained, others may not have caught up to maintenance after the last storm. When riding a trail for the first time, ride easy and find your line before going full send on everything. Ride a trail multiple times before sending it full throttle. There may be down branches, logs, mud, overgrowth or other obstacles in your way, depending on where you ride.

Bring tools. Bring tubes – While out of service and on the trails, it is smart to carry at least minimal repair tools. You can never predict when something will happen, or a bolt comes loose. Although, we always check every bolt before each ride… right? (wink face). See the list below for a recommended checklist of the minimum essentails.

Tools for the Trails

  • Hand air pump or CO2 inflator
  • Spare tube per rider
  • Tire levers
  • Bike multi-tool or common hex key sizes for your bike
  • Zip ties
  • Chain tool and spare master link
Vermont Bike trips

Plan A Vermont Mountain Bike Trip

When planning your Vermont mountain bike trip, set up basecamp at Stratton Resort for a full list of mountain biker amenities, and base your trip on the surrounding trail systems. After a long day of single track, it’s always nice to mix in a day ticket for lift-serviced downhill mountain biking, that bottoms out at the Stratton Village. The Village is filled with dining options, happy hour menus and First Run; a full-service bike shop complete with tune-ups, a wash station, the new helmet you’ve been looking for, or pair of sunglasses for the trails. Enjoy the short peddle commute to the lifts when you book a Stay and Bike Lodging Package.

Book a stay at the Black Bear Lodge for you and your bikes, and receive discounts on both lodging and your bike park tickets. The Bike and Stay package includes lodging and two 1-day Stratton Mountain Bike Park tickets. One or two-night stays are available. Tickets are valid during your lodging stay and can be used on the day of your arrival or the day of your departure. If one day of berms, turns and jumps isn’t enough, add on additional discounted tickets during the dates of your stay for just $20 each.

Stratton is also happy to offer on-site mountain bike rentals and mountain bike lessons. First Run rents mountain bikes right at the base of the mountain, so no transportation is necessary. Rentals and lessons can be booked online before your trip!

Stratton Mountain Biking

Check out What’s New In The Bike Park for summer 2021 and get excited to ride!