It’s early evening, not quite golden hour, on a summer Tuesday. Against a forest backdrop bathed in shades of green, Ben Colona chats it up with riders who’ve gathered at his shop, Base Camp, for their weekly ride. Colona is also president of the Killington Mountain Bike Club (KMBC), a local nonprofit dedicated to building and maintaining trails.
Colona has lived and ridden in Vermont for more than a decade. He attended nearby Castleton College and eventually found himself working in the mountain bike shop at Killington Resort in 2008 or 2009. At that time, beginner riders had no option other than to take the K-1 Gondola to the summit and descend on either advanced singletrack or a loose gravel road that may have been a more dangerous ride than any trail on the hill. On his first ride, Colona dropped in over his head right out of the gate.
“My first mountain biking experience ever I rode down Snake Bite and over to Outback,” Colona recalled. “Just some really fun, rowdy downhill.”
“When the resort went with Gravity Logic to build their trail network around 2012 or 2013, that’s when everything changed,” Colona said, of the Whistler, B.C.-based trail designer and developer with whom Killington partnered to envision the resort’s trail expansion. “They came in with a beginner- and intermediate-terrain mindset and built something that really brought more people into the sport. They opened two new lifts—Snowshed and Ramshead—and the first thing they did was build two or three Green trails, and then they started building Blue trails. Then they built the small jump line, a medium jump line and finally the big jump line on Black Magic.”
During his tenure working at Killington’s shop, he saw the resort evolve and expand its trail network to include more beginner and intermediate terrain on Ramshead and Snowshed, in addition to the more advanced riding off the K-1 Gondola. This evolution has made downhill mountain biking accessible to people who’ve never done it before. It’s also been a boon for Killington Resort and the town.
As part of Killington Resort’s expansion of its downhill trail network, many of the historic cross country trails were either absorbed into the downhill network or de-commissioned. There was a need for new cross country trails to complement the resort’s new downhill network, and people like Colona and Sarah Newell, Director of Parks and Recreation for the town of Killington, heeded the community’s call.
Back in 2009, the town of Killington brought in a consultant to survey residents, second homeowners and other people who use the area. “Overwhelmingly people said they wanted new bicycle and pedestrian paths,” said Newell. “More specifically, when they drilled down to it, they really wanted mountain bike trails.”
The Sherburne Trails represent the first local network developed between KMBC and the Town of Killington, and also required working with the U.S. Forest Service. More recently, Killington received a $75,000 grant after making the argument that developing trails are essential not just for recreation, but also for economic purposes.
“The more trails that we can provide, the more we can draw people to stay in the area for more days,” said Newell. “That has helped our community significantly. Most of the businesses in Killington used to close in the summer. But with the resort’s growth of downhill mountain biking, and then our growth in cross country trails, at least half those businesses now stay open all year round.”
The main focus of KMBC’s five-year plan revolves around connectivity—establishing a route from the resort to the town trails.
“We’re focusing on creating a singletrack enduro-style trail from the lower part of Ramshead all the way down to the Deli at Killington Corners," said Colona. "And that would tie in the resort down to the town, and then right across the street you have our town trails. All of a sudden we have a massively connected network with a 3,000-foot descent, which you can’t get anywhere unless you go out West.”
On an even grander scale, the Velomont Trail project promises to connect 19 trail networks across Vermont, including Killington’s Sherburne Trails and Rutland’s Pine Hill Park. At least 70 percent of the Velomont Trail will be singletrack. The project has real traction, and Colona said KMBC plans to start working on their Velomont connection via a new trail out of Gifford Woods State Park this summer.
Mountain Bike Central | Itinerary
Use Killington Resort as a base camp to access eight trail networks within a 25-mile radius.
Pittsfield | Stockbridge
Poultney | Castleton | Wells
“The [Velomont] project is moving rapidly, which is great,” said Colona. “The 15,000-foot view is to connect these ‘spaghetti bowls’—independent trail networks—together and have it be mostly single track between each network. So let’s just take Killington, for example. Killington’s the middle of the state and also the middle of the Velomont Trail. So it’s gonna travel in and out of here.”
By its most recent tally, the town features 16 miles of cross-country trail to complement the resort’s 30 miles of downhill track. That includes “TBR”, short for Thunder Brook Road, which leaves right from Base Camp. KMBC's Tuesday night rides often leave from the aptly-named Base Camp.
Led by Colona, the Tuesday evening riders make their final preparations and adjustments and, one by one, roll off into the summer night.
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