Winding, narrow trails. Acres and acres of glades. Genuine
warmth at the base. True North. It’s all so obvious, to us at
least, that it’s the right way to do things. But as the trails
got wider and wider and the experience flatter and flatter, it
seemed more and more people had forgotten what made Vermont
skiing and riding great in the first place.
A history–a legacy, perhaps–that we think is worth preserving.
So as the rest of the North followed trends and fads, tacking on
amenity after amenity to accommodate the masses, we clung to the
old ways. Refusing to widen trails or give up our glades.
Preserving that legacy for the future. But, sadly, many now
believe that treeless swaths of mountain are all that Vermont
skiing and riding ever were. When we say True North, they have
no context for what it means and how that affects the skier or
rider, the mountain or even the trails themselves.
So, here, we present (as a reminder to some and introduction to
others) a trail guide that gives a taste of what it’s like to
ski and ride True North.
East Bowl - 1590’ VT, 2.16 mI
We’ll start with a bit of
classic Vermont – and by a bit, we mean over two miles of
winding, mountain-contour hugging, surrounded-by-woods
perfection. Take a quick pause at the first bend of East Bowl
and soak in the mountain’s best morning views. Look, kids. Mount
Washington! Enough geography. This narrow trail–about 40’ at its
widest–is a roller coaster of drop after drop that takes you far
off the beaten path. Not that we have a beaten path, but East
Bowl is long and fast. People tend to stretch out and you may
not see anyone else the entire run. Another thing you may not
see is a ton of corduroy. One reason for this is that the
mountain decided that this was as good a place as any to put a
drop our groomers couldn’t access. Another is that a lot of
people like East Bowl natural and a little rough, so it’s not
always high on the groomer’s list.
DIPPERS - 1.37 mi steepest pitch 45%
Made up of Upper and Big Dipper, this top to bottom straight
shot starts out in the shadow of the 2011-installed Burke wind
turbine*. One of the most consistent runs from a
snowmaking/grooming/ conditions point of view, the Dippers are a
series of steep drops that will have you questioning if you’re
truly on a blue. Certified to hold FIS and USSA downhill races,
the Dipper trails are great for speed lovers, and racers can
often be found practicing for upcoming events.
LEDGES - .15mi avg pitch 49.1%
Ledges may not be the longest run in this guide, but it’s
allowed to bump up all winter long so it may be one of the most
fun. Combine that rawness with the steepest pitch on the
mountain, and you may want to pause a second to find
your line before dropping in. But with bumps you could disappear
behind, and the trail being between two tree lines, if it
decides to humble you, the mountain will probably be your only
Wayne’s world - .24 mi avg pitch 28%
True North means tree skiing – a fact forgotten or ignored by
our friends to the south and east. So as part of our promise to
preserve our way of skiing and riding, we’d like to introduce
you to Wayne’s World–one of five new glades making the trail map
for the 2012/13 season. Linking off either Birches or The
Jungle, expert skiers can now enjoy over a half mile of
picturesque Vermont hardwoods. Although covering some of the
mountain’s steepest pitch, the scenery might not be what you
enjoy the most.
WARREN’s WAY - 1120’ vt avg pitch 36%
Burke is the home mountain to 55+ Olympic racers–including some
2014 hopefuls–from the Burke Mountain Academy. And each one of
those racers perfected their turns on Warren’s Way. With a nice
steady pitch, it’s a great speed run. Heads up as you get to
Lower Warren’s as the BMA students will almost surely be out
practicing, and the fairly wide (by Burke standards) trail
narrows by about half–sometimes even more so with spectators
seeing how it’s done. Because of the students’ rigorous schedule
and need for quality surfaces, you can count on Warren’s for the
most consistent snowmaking and grooming on the mountain.
Dashney Mile - .9mi avg pitch 18.3%
With almost a full mile of jumps and jibs that rival the biggest
mountains in the east, D-Block (as it’s known at local colleges)
is a great place to either learn or show off your best tricks.
As proof of that, two members of the Burke Freestyle Team*
placed at the United States of America Snowboard Association (USASA)
Nationals in Copper, CO, in 2012. A rare feat for a first-year
team. Chalk it up to good students, a good teacher and a one of
a kind classroom. Just want to see what people are landing?
There’s a side trail for spectators. But, hey, you’re on the
mile, may as well try to hit something.
JESTER - 4 sections 50’ bridge
Machine-made berms, flat-tops and hairpin turns make Jester
about as unique a trail as you’ll find anywhere. Those obstacles
wind through trees in the Enchanted Forest glade before dropping
off the edge of a trail into what was once an out of bounds
area. That’s what you get when you open a mountain biking trail
in the winter. Somewhere between banking roller coaster on snow
and terrain park in the woods, Jester is as challenging and as
exciting as you want it to be. A must-try run for all but the
Bunker Hill - 593’ vt .8 mi
The lower mountain (with the exception of Dashney Mile) is the
domain of the green skier. A fact that makes it a perfect place
to learn without the dangerous criss-crossing of higher level
trails indicative of many mountains. When the new skier or rider
is ready for a challenge, they take the Sherburne Express lift
and head skierleft toward Bunker Hill. The mountain rolls gently
down through a beginner terrain area (may as well try a fun box
while you’re there) and the Enchanted Forest Glade before
dropping at its namesake. With good pitch for a green, the drop
is short enough to not be imposing but steep enough to get some
speed and test control. The perfect last run before you
graduate up the mountain.
MaGill Fields - 1.8 mi (that’s 3 km to you
free-heeling XC folks)
We love downhill, but there’s even more to explore when you
strap on some XC skis and take to the 80 trails that make up our
Nordic system. Suitable for skiers of all levels and ages,
MaGill Fields provides amazing views of Burke Mountain and the
Umpire Ridgeline. Beautifully maintained by the Kingdom Trails
Nordic Center, the 3K loop is widely groomed to offer both
skating and classic skiing. Which also makes it perfect as the
start and finish lines of the annual Burke Sled Dog Dash, a
uniquely Burke event that brings the best mushers in the region
to race their teams.
So there you have it. We hope this short outline gives you a
sense of what it once meant and still means on one mountain to
ski and ride classic Vermont. But that spirit doesn’t end when
the boots come off. You can see it in the faces of our guests
and our staff. You can feel it in our lodges. Whether it’s the
vibe at Mid Burke’s Bear Den Lounge (the polite term is rustic)
or sitting by the fire at the Tamarack Grill–you’ll feel it.
Even in town at the local inns, taverns or eateries it permeates
the area. A genuine warmth that comes from being part of
something that is sadly now unique. A place where everyone feels
like a local, even on their first visit. A place that lets
common sense dictate growth. That respects both its natural
heritage and its racing traditions. And where the mountain, not
the money, leads the way. A place that’s true.