That title makes these trails sound like something that could be found in an empire and presided over by royalty.
Well, there are days when it feels like these trails are my dominion and I, the Queen, watch over all. Okay, that’s just a little fantasy of mine.
The Kingdom Trails are actually a network of trails through the Burke area designed for multiple uses. We use the trails year round.
Some of the trails are wider and easier going, utilizing the VAST trail system in places.
The rest are single track, which means narrow. This represents an easier area to negotiate. First of all the trail is smooth and obstruction free, and there is low grass next to it, as opposed to thorny berry bushes that grow across a lot of the trails and have a tendency to cause severe scratches and bleeding.
My husband and I joke that a bike ride on the trails is not complete until someone draws blood. It’s only a joke. Sort of.
Many of the trails look like this. This one is an easy traverse, but there are many with larger exposed roots on an uphill climb or on a corner. Or going uphill AND around a corner AND with a very narrow span between trees.
Sometimes there are stumps along the trail too. The other day I found one of those the hard way.
Bouncing along over a rooty path I came to sudden stop. Not good, because my bike stopped but I didn’t. After I untangled myself from the saplings and handlebars I said, “What the hell?” Looking around I discovered a small stump covered by ferns. My pedal had caught on it. I think we were on a trail called Nose Dive. How appropriate.
The trails are all named and that adds to the fun. You might imagine what a trail called Cupcake is like and you would be correct if you thought of it as an easy ride. Poundcake is a little more challenging – to ride and to eat – but both are pleasant. One of my favorites is Heaven’s Bench.
Besides the incredible views of mountains, rolling fields, and The Chapel, there is a meandering trail with few roots, but lots of switchbacks. Turning left is particularly challenging for me. I don’t know why. I can make all kinds of right hand turns, but when it comes to those lefts – not so good. The switchbacks give me the opportunity to practice.
If you see this sign you might want to heed the warning.
Or not. I rode it (a couple of years ago) and I’m still here.
Over the years I’ve noticed more and more bridges constructed on the trails.
I have mixed feelings about these bridges, which tend to be too narrow for my liking.
Many, like this one, are over water and that’s a good thing. It does make it easier to cross streams. However, I lack the confidence that I will maintain my balance across a two foot wide bridge that is four feet above the water and has rocks as a prelude to the lip you need to ‘jump’ to get on the dang bridge in the first place. A friend use to say “Speed is your friend,” when you’re mountain biking. I’m not so sure that is always true. I prefer to crab walk over some obstacles, bike between my legs. I like to say, “Safety first,” when mountain biking. Especially after diving over my handle bars so recently. Oh, yeah, and that broken ankle we won’t talk about now.
I do appreciate the bridges though. Some are less challenging and cover the mud and what I like to refer to as “mucky muck.” You know – the stuff you wouldn’t wade through under normal circumstances. It looks like this on a good day.
Here’s a bridge I can cross.
Another thing a rider needs to pay attention to when on these trails is the trees. There are a lot of them and some of them seem to call my name. The trick is to be aware of the span between trees on the single tracks. Sometimes it’s. . .tight. I have been known to get caught between two of them. There may be some trick to maneuvering through them, but I haven’t figured it out – yet.
Seriously. That’s a tight fit when you think of putting your handle bars through there. Both of them. At the same time. And I should point out that this trail, while single track, is smooth and relatively obstacle free. These trees you might get through easily.
There are a lot of riders younger than myself out there. Stop laughing.
My point is that they have created some interesting challenges for themselves. I don’t know why. Maybe they are a. inexperienced, b. have a high tolerance for pain, c. are nincompoops. Whatever. Here are some of their ‘interesting challenges’:
This is the trail called Kitchel. It’s kind of like the mountain biker’s version of a luge run. Fortunately there are no roots, but notice that it is mostly sand. Sand = slippery. Just so you know.
Clearly the person who propped that board on the end of that log has better balance than I do.
Yes, the intent is to ride the wall. Sideways. I don’t know. Maybe some day I’ll get a picture of someone actually doing that. I’ll let you know when I do.
THE WALL is accessed from the Mountain trails at Burke. You can take the chair lift. In the summer. They even have special racks to hold your bikes so you don’t have to. 🙂
Bottom line – it’s all good fun for any age. Kudos to The Kingdom Trails and their crew who do a fantastic job of maintaining them.