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Where To Mountain Bike in Stowe?

Over the past couple decades, our little town of Stowe has grown into one of the premiere mountain bike destinations in New England.  Perhaps still slightly over-shadowed by the ever-popular Kingdom Trails to our northeast, the network of mountain bike trails in Stowe is certainly nothing to scoff at.  It can, however, be somewhat challenging to navigate as unlike in East Burke, there’s less of a central hub for bikes here in our hometown.  Where do you start?  How and why should you prioritize certain trails over others?  We’re here to answer all those questions and more!

Cady Hill Forest

When riding through Cady Hill Forest, you’re riding through rich history of mountain biking in Stowe.  Things have, however, changed significantly over the years.  What was once home to more technical, rake-and-ride style single track is now a network of trails that will satisfy a huge range of abilities.  Bench cut trails have become the standard in Cady Hill, or at least the most popular options.  If you like flow trails and jumps, Florence is a must, and if anything has become the flagship trail here in Stowe.  Bears is one of the oldest trails in Cady Hill Forest and has changed a lot over its history.  Roots and rocks have given way to a wider cut trail that blurs the line between a classic technical descent and a more modern freeride rollercoaster.  Simply put, if you’re riding your mountain bike in Stowe, experiencing what Cady Hill has to offer should be on the top of your list.


Cady Hill can get a little bit confusing when it comes to deciding where to park and access the trails.  The main parking lot is found just past Cady Hill Lodge as you drive towards Stowe Mountain Resort on Mountain Rd from the center of town.  You’ll find it on the left.  If you see Alpine Mart on your right, you’ve gone too far.  This is a great place to start, but it can get crowded.  Cady Hill Climb is your entrance from this parking lot and is a relatively smooth, mellow climb, but it is sustained climbing.  Some will breeze right up without a thought of it being challenging, while others may need to take a break or two.

There are many alternative ways of accessing Cady Hill.  Ranch Camp is located at what many would consider the “original” Cady Hill trailhead.  Here, you’re accessing the network via Charlie’s with the options of then connecting to Eagle Ridge, Bridgey, or continuing down Charlie’s, which will spit you at the bottom of Florence and at another potential access point.  Eagle Ridge will be the easiest option here, and for those who are looking to avoid Cady Hill Climb to start their day, this is an excellent choice.  Typically, this strategy will be easiest for those riding with newer riders and/or young kids. 


Perhaps our favorite way of accessing Cady Hill is the substation at the bottom of Florence.  While this has become a more popular parking spot over the past 3-5 years, it still feels slightly off the beaten path.  Maybe it’s just not being right on Mountain Rd.  Regardless of why, it’s a quieter place to start and finish a ride, and you get the bonus of being right at the bottom of Florence, which is a fun way to finish a ride. 

Florence and Bears are fantastic trails, and very few riders will come away from riding Bears thinking it wasn’t challenging enough for them, but if you are looking to maximize difficulty, Schween Haus is the place for you.  These trails largely haven’t changed in a couple decades and will provide a suitable challenge for even the most experienced riders.  What’s nice about riding in Schween Haus is nothing feels particularly dangerous, it’s just that nothing is easy.  Maintaining flow and momentum can be challenging, which is part of the appeal.  You won’t be riding particularly fast, but you will be working hard.  A couple Schween Haus laps makes everyone appreciate a nice easy cruise down Florence. 

Adam's Camp

The trails in the Adam’a Camp network still feel new to me, but they’ve been well established for over a decade now.   Adam’s Camp is, in many ways, just one big loop, but it’s been expanded on and added to over the years.  The main parking lot for Adam’s Camp is found by driving up Ranch Brook Rd, a small one lane dirt road found directly after The Matterhorn on your left if driving up Mountain Rd.  From here, there’s a short but very steep double track climb that leaves you directly at the bottom of Kimmer’s and along the Stowe Derby double track.  The main loop of Adam’s Camp can be ridden in both directions.  For a first time experience, I recommend coming down Kimmer’s, but it’s fun both ways.  This means from the main parking lot, you’ll ride along the Stowe Derby double track to Hardy Haul, climb Hardy Haul, continue onto Cheddar, then descend Shredder into Kimmer’s.  An alternative method is to park at the end of the Stowe Recreation Path and ride a short distance up Brook Rd to Haulapalooza.  This relatively-new trail is sort of ho-hum as a climb, but an absolute hoot as a descent and certainly a fun way to finish a ride.  Starting at Haulapalooza, riding the whole Cheddar, Shredder, Kimmer’s, Hardy Haul loop is a long ride.  It might not look like it on the map, but you’re looking at up to 2 hours at a reasonable pace. 

Not to mention, there are plenty of ways to make it longer.  While certainly not the longest single piece of trail in Stowe, Serenity and Adrenaline might take you the longest to complete, at least without putting a foot down.  It is one of the most recent additions to the mountain biking scene in Stowe and features an impressive array of extremely challenging wooden features.  If you like skinnies and riding your mountain bike like it’s a trials bike, you’ll love it.  It’s certainly fair to say a lot of riders won’t love it, so don’t be afraid to skip it.  You’ll know right away if it’s something you want to ride as it gets challenging quickly.  If it’s not for you, it’s super easy to turn around and get back to the intersection of Hardy Haul and Cheddar.  I also think another fun way of lengthening your ride in Adam’s Camp is riding it in both directions.  There was a time when Kimmer’s and Hardy Haul were only connected through a class 4 road (Haul Rd) at the top.  In this era, I used to ride what I would call the “horseshoe.”  Start at the bottom, ride up Kimmer’s, down Kimmer’s, up Hardy Haul, and back down Hardy Haul.  As mentioned, both are really fun as descents and this way you get to enjoy both.  Now, however, with the addition of Cheddar and Shredder, it’s absolutely worth working them in, which adds quite a bit.  If you’ve got the time and the legs, however, it’s a lot of fun.

Sterling Valley

Sterling Valley trails are a little more off the beaten path, but absolutely worth exploring if you’re in the area.  From the Sterling Gorge Rd parking area, make your way to the Lower Marston Trail, which will take you to 8 Bridges.  8 Bridges will connect you to Lauren’s Loop, which eventually takes you up to Peak-A-View.  This isn’t an exceptionally challenging ride, but there are some technical sections.  Most riders won’t have any issue getting up to Peak-A-View, which is a worthwhile stop and an excellent location for a quick lunch or snack.  In the other direction, the Catamount Trail will take you to Callagy’s and Split Rock.  These are favorites of many riders in Stowe.  Split Rock features more classic, technical trails with plenty of roots and rocks.  Callagy’s is a mixture of machine built and more classic riding.  None of the trails in Sterling Valley are exceptionally long, which makes it a nice location for a quick ride.  If you’re looking to maximize your time out there, plan on riding both sub-networks.  Sterling Valley can feel a bit more confusing to navigate than some of the areas in Stowe, so prepare yourself with plenty of map knowledge and make a plan. 

Trapp Family Lodge

The trails at Trapp Family Lodge are fantastic and often overlooked by mountain bike visitors in Stowe.  Part of that is probably because they do require a paid trail pass, but it’s only $15 and gets you access to some unique trails.  The best way to think about the network at Trapp Family Lodge is to split it into two sections separated by Trapp Hill Road.  On the lower side of the road, across from the main lodge, you’ll find some of the best beginner trails in all of Vermont, let alone Stowe.  Those new to mountain biking will find the Greenway Connector, Rock Tiger, and Woodchuck are easy, fun, and confidence-inspiring.  Luckily, if you’re looking for a new challenge, Stepping Stone and Chuck’s Corkscrew are right around the corner and are relatively easy trails too despite their blue rating.  Across the street, things feel a bit different.  Luce Hill Loop is a fun trail and not too demanding, but Tap Line and Growler are best for more advanced riders.  Take it slow, however, and just about anyone can get up and down them, but some walking may be required in certain spots.  The reward is a trip to the Slayton Pasture Cabin, one of the many gems on the Trapp Family property.  This requires a good amount of climbing in addition to being on relatively technical trails, so plan accordingly.

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the Trapp trail network is how it can act as a connector between other trails in Stowe.  From the Cabin, you can continue along Haul Rd and arrive at the top of Cheddar and Shredder in the Adam’s Camp network.  On the other side of the trail network, you’ll find Pipeline, accessible both from Trapp Hill Road and from the Greenway Connector.  Pipeline is a classic, technical Stowe trail that is fun as both a climb and a descent.  It spits you out right at Stowe High School, which is right around the corner from Pinnacle Ski and Sports and a relatively short trip back to Cady Hill.  Trails behind Stowe High School exist, but are on private land, and we ask that you don’t try to find your way through that network if you’re not with a local.  From the high school, you can just cruise down Barrow’s Road to Luce Hill Road and be right back on Mountain Road or the Recreation Path.  Stowe High School can act as a base camp area for an absolutely epic ride.  Up Pipeline, through Trapp’s network to the Cabin, a loop through Adam’s Camp, then either go back up to the Cabin or descend down Ted’s Unicorn Express.  In fact, Trapp’s can be bypassed by going straight from Pipeline to “TUCXS,” which is great if you’re looking for a slightly shorter journey.

While there’s a lot in this article, we’re only scratching the surface of possibilities in Stowe.  There are more trails in the immediate Stowe area, there are some excellent options in Morrisville, not to mention the phenomenal trails in the Waterbury and Richmond locations, just a short drive from Stowe.  Looking ahead, we’ll have similar articles and guides for those networks too.  As always, if you have any questions about where to ride in the area, where to demo bikes, where you can find the best apres, or anything else, don’t hesitate to give us a call!