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Riding Beyond Stowe Pt. 1

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We’re pretty spoiled here in Stowe. It’s okay to admit it. With a handful of networks to ride, great bike-related events, and countless post-ride watering holes it’s often hard to come up with reasons to ride anywhere else. That being said, it’s worth loading up the car for a little trip a few times a summer. There are several riding locations within a two hour drive from here that are worth a visit.

I recently spent two days riding in the Mad River Valley, an easy 40 minute drive from the Stowe area. My Saturday was spent riding at Blueberry Lake, a flowy network above the Warren Village on Plunkton Road. Characterized by flowing beginner and intermediate terrain, this spot is great for the whole family, or just a day of escaping the Stowe weekend crowds.

To get there you’ll follow Plunkton Road past two signs for Blueberry Lake, one for the ski touring center and a second for the lake access parking. Soon after the second sign you’ll find a small parking lot with a view of the lake on your left. The trails are accessed on the opposite side of the road. The network is well marked with maps at each intersection. It’s basically a big figure eight with a few extensions made up of trails that ride great in each direction with the exception of the downhill only trail Tootsie Roll.

This ride is best reserved for a hot day when you can spend your whole ride looking forward to a dip in the lake.

On Sunday took things up a notch with a trip to the Sugarbush Resort Bike Park. Unlike Blueberry lake, there isn’t much in the way of smooth flow trail there. The trails are rocky, rooty, and fast making it a great place to push your limits a little more. I spent the day riding my trail bike with a 150mm fork, but downhill bike rentals are available for those looking to ride something a little more capable.

The trails at the park are rated green, blue, or black just like ski trails, so most intermediate to advanced riders can work their way up fairly easily throughout the day. While it’s not what I want to ride every weekend, I’ve always loved pushing myself at bike parks. If you’re still not sure whether or not to check it out, just remember that VMBASMBC members get a free day ticket to each of the five bike parks in the state.

A day at either of these locations is best finished off with a bite to eat from the Warren Store or the Mad Taco. The Warren Store has a great deli and lots of other snacks to choose from. Unfortunately they don’t serve beer on site, but you can almost always find a couple four packs of Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine IPA in the cooler to bring home.

For those looking for something more filling and a beer to go with it, the Mad Taco is a must. The restaurant is located in the small shopping center in Waitsfield on the right as you return to Stowe. They have tons of taco and burrito options as well as killer draft beer list (even by Stowe standards!) If you’re still hungry after a stop at either spot, there is an ice cream shop near the Mad Taco.