EAST BURKE — Vermont’s remote Northeast Kingdom is getting a financial boost from mountain bikers.
Cyclists began arriving in the northern Vermont region in late April to ride on Kingdom Trails’ 110-mile trail network at a cost of $15 a day or $75 for a season pass. Cross-country skiers use the trails in the winter.
The average visitor spends about $100 a day, meaning last year’s 49,000 riders pumped about $5 million into the economy, said Kingdom Trails Executive Director Jim Tierney.
It wouldn’t be possible without the generosity of the 55 or so property owners who loan the use of their land and expect nothing in return except for well-behaved bike riders. Kingdom Trails is a nonprofit organization based in East Burke that encourages recreational use of the Northeast Kingdom.
“Non-motorized recreation can make a pretty big difference in the community and have a pretty low impact, really,” Tierney said. “”These people come, they enjoy, they leave and they come back.”
On a recent day, most cars at the Vermont Trails’ welcome center had Canadian license plates. Word has spread about the trails, Brian Scott told Vermont Public Radio as he cleaned his bike.
“People from Montreal, through the Internet and forums and things like that, we all know that this is one of the best places in New England, and, actually, in North America, to go biking,” he said.
The trails should benefit the owners of Jay Peak, who recently bought the neighboring Burke Mountain Ski Resort, Tierney said. There are concerns about congestion and a lodging shortage, but occasional shortages of bathrooms or parking spots are good problems to have in a recession, he said.
“Other towns want what we have and a lot of people actually ask me to give talks on, ‘How do we do this?’” he said.MORE IN Vermont News
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