Mountain Biking

Within a ten minute ride from the Middlebury College campus, there are numerous
opportunities for mountain biking.  Chipman Hill Park, Means Woods and Battell
Woods provide a large area of both singletrack and wider trail riding accommodating
all levels of skill and fitness.  Although there are other riding options
available this guide will focus on the network of trails known as TAM. The recently
established Trail Around Middlebury (TAM), developed by the Middlebury Area Land
Trust, runs through all three areas. These trails are marked with small square
yellow signs picturing the TAM logo. Some, but not all, are marked with very basic

Snake Mountain: 1 hour (without singletrack exploration) The Chipman Hill Horse Shoe:35 minutes
The Chipman Hill Loop: 50 minutes Battell Woods Loop:45 minutes
Chipman, Means, Battell TAM:1 1/2 hours Blueberry Hill Beginner’s Loop: 30 minutes
Hogback Mountain Loop: 1 hour Sucker Brook-Stewart Loop: 1 hour
Romance Mountain Loop: 3 hours Leicester Hollow Trail: 2 hour


The Chipman Hill Horse Shoe

Approximate Time: 35 minutes

The rough and broken asphalt road climbs moderately snaking to the top of the
hill. Although technically quite easy, your legs will burn. Once past the
clearing and wooden barriers, the asphalt gives way to a dirt and rocky jeep
road. Follow the road as it turns south and downhill over more uneven ground
to the Springside Drive entrance. Return to campus bombing down Springside
then right on Washington Street toward Grand Union and back to town.

Directions: Access to the area via High Street can be reached by following
Route 7 north out of town for 1/4 mile to Seminary Street on the right (east)
and subsequent turn left (north) onto High Street. Follow High Street to the
end where you will find a metal gate preventing motor vehicles use of the

The Chipman Hill Loop

Approximate Time: 50 minutes

Follow Chipman Hill Horse Shoe directions to the top of Chipman Hill jeep road.
As the road bends south find the TAM dropping east (left) onto singletrack.
The trail falls steeply before leveling out under power lines and traversing
south across the hill.  Pay attention to follow the yellow TAM signs
as the trail continues south and skirts above a gravel pit.  Pass the
first branch on the left to Washington St. and Means Woods before reaching
a three-way intersection.  Take the fork left which climbs gently up
and completes the loop emptying out onto Springside Drive.  Return to
campus as mentioned above.

A slightly shorter loop can be made by following the jeep road further downhill
until a second spur is found to the  east (left).  Similarly this
trail drops steeply through the woods until it reaches the three way intersection
mentioned above.  Follow the loop as mentioned above.

Chipman Hill, located north of town on the east side of Route 7, is a microcosm
of the prevailing natural history of the area. Created during the last ice
age around 10,000 years ago, the hill was formed by glacial till. Then as
the entire area between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains was filled
by Lake Vermont, the pre-cursor to Lake Champlain, Chipman Hill remained visible
as an island. The soil on the hill is different than the rest of the Champlain
valley because glacial sediment was not deposited on top of the island. In
more recent history, the succession of land use has been evident on Chipman
Hill.  At the end of the 19th Century, the hill had been cleared and
was used for cattle grazing. In the 1920’s, when the forest had returned,
Chipman Hill was birthplace to the skiing tradition at Middlebury. In 1924
a ski jump was completed and served as a source of competition and entertainment
during the winter months.  An extensive networks of trails was cut and
at one time there was even a rope tow on the east side of the hill. Chipman
Hill was the primary site for skiing and even hosted the first Middlebury
Winter Carnival.

The road which winds up Chipman Hill was open until 1980 when raucous parties
at the top clearing forced the town to close it for safety reasons. The road
had originally been constructed in the 1930’s to access a fire tower
which afforded a view of much of the valley. Other man-made features still
visible include the natural gravel pits on the east side which were actively
mined in the 1920’s and 30’s. Also the reservoir near the Springside
Road entrance was the original version of a water tower for the town. In 1976
a new 1.5 million gallon enclosed reservoir was built higher up on the hill.
In his will Joseph Battell, the same Battell of the dorm namesake, Battell
Woods and the donator of the Breadloaf area, left his 125 acres of Chipman
Hill  “to be used, improved and maintained as a public park forever.”

Note:  The times given for the Chipman, Battell and Mean’s rides
are based on round trip from campus.  Also these two suggestions are
just a few of the rides possible on Chipman Hill.  The area’s proximity
to the town and well marked trails allow for ample exploration without the
worry of becoming lost.  Most trails will either loop around or empty
out onto recognizable roads.

Directions: Follow the directions above.

Battell Woods Loop

Approximate Time: 45 minutes

The singletrack trail enters the woods as part of the TAM. Follow the relatively
flat and rough trail south until it curves east. Be watchful for an unmarked
trail diverging from the TAM right and up a short rocky hill. Take this trail
through the woods ignoring any branching trails. Stay on the main, obvious
trail as it loops clockwise and becomes a wider gravel path. Continue on the
trail with houses bordering to the west. The trail empties onto Seminary St.
a few hundred yards closer to town than the parking area. Return to campus
as you came.

Directions: To reach the access to Battell Woods take Washington Street
(past Grand Union) to confusing 5-way intersection. Here fork right onto Seminary
St. extension for 1/2 mile to the Battell Woods parking area on the right
(Means Woods is directly across the street on the left).

Chipman, Means, Battell TAM

Approximate Time: 1 1/2 hours

Follow the Chipman Hill Loop to the Washington St. and Means Woods turn-off
just before the three-way intersection. From the turn-off there is a short
downhill section which is very steep and difficult (don’t be ashamed
to walk it). An alternate route cuts left (east) off the traverse a hundred
yards earlier down and through the gravel pits and then right onto a wider
trail. The TAM continues down across the aforementioned wide trail and out
into a cleared field. Follow the obvious singletrack along the edge of the
field until the TAM hits Washington Street Extension. Cross the street to
Peterson Terrace and pick up the TAM at the back of the cul de sac. Enter
Means Woods on singletrack which rises gently before merging onto a fire road
halfway through Means Woods.  This wide and flat section of the TAM dumps
out onto Seminary Street Extension. Cross the street to Battell Woods where
the TAM once again enters the forest. Follow the marked TAM out onto the edge
of farm land where it skirts a field and passes some farm buildings before
exiting out onto Route 7 south of Middlebury across from the used car dealership.
Follow Route 7 right (north) to town.

Directions: Use the Chipman Hill Horseshoe directions.

Means Woods and Battell Woods were given to the town by Elinor Means,
a longtime resident of Middlebury, and Colonel Joseph Battell respectively.
Means Woods now serves as a nature preserve used by local students, the college
and community members for nature study and general recreation. Former college
professor of Biology, Howard Woodin, conducted extensive ecological research
of the area in the mid to late 1970’s. He determined that the forest
make-up is a deciduous forest biome with several subdivision climax forest
types. Common species of trees include beech, birch, maple, oak and hickory
as well as some coniferous trees. Means Woods is unusual in that it offers
a mix of not only species common to the coniferous forest biome which is a
large band stretching east-west generally above 50° north latitude, but also
the deciduous forest biome which spreads south of Vermont. The full report
by Professor Woodin can be found in the archives of the library.

Moosalamoo Area

The trails in this section are centered around the Blueberry Hill Inn and
Churchill House.  Both are very helpful in offering information and highly
encourage the use of these trails.  lthough it is possible to ride to
this area, we reccomend driving the 14 miles to the Blueberry Hill Inn.
Blueberry Hill is a very popular cross-country ski area in winter, but is
open to both hiking and mountain biking.  The well-marked network of
trails uses an easy-to-follow numbering system where each intersection is
marked with either blue or yellow numbers.  The intersection numbering
system is as follows: the top number at each intersection marks the location.
The farther out you go the higher the number.  If at any point you don’t
know where you are just follow signs pointing you to lower numbers. The inn
is at #1.

Blueberry Hill Beginner’s

Approximate Time: 30 minutes

This fairly easy trail leaves from the backyard of the Blueberry Hill Inn and
loops around Irven Field clockwise. Go right at intersection #3 and continue
making rights at subsequent intersections #23, #4 and #2.  The trail
will finish directly across the road from the inn.

Hogback Mountain Loop

Approximate Time: 1 hour

This scenic loop begins behind the Inn taking a left at intersection #3 following
the trail up to intersection #7. Go right here and follow the wide trail along
a contour of the western flank of Hogback Mountain. At intersection #21 bear
left and continue on the trail south before reaching an open clearing with
outstanding views.  This side of the mountain is covered with wild blueberry
bushes which ripen in late summer.  In order to promote the continued
growth of these bushes the Forest Service practices controlled burning each
April.  A spur trail leading up to the summit of Hogback gives great
opportunity for tough climb.  If you go up, follow one of the few singletrack
trails weaving down the southern slope back to the loop trail.  As you
follow the trail around counter-clockwise it drops onto a gravel road.
150 yards further on the trail re-enters the woods with a left at intersection
#25.  Follow the trail past a birch-filled ravine until it hits intersection
#27.  Here bear right and continue to #29 where a left should be made.
Continue making lefts at each intersection until the trail comes to #7 where
you can retrace your journey back to the Inn.

Sucker Brook-Stewart Loop

Approximate Time: 1 hour

This ride is more technical than the previous two in the area, encountering
more brooks and other obstacles.  Users should expect mud even during
dry periods.  The trail climbs from 1650 feet to 2175 feet in the first
1/3 of the ride and is followed by some great downhill sections. To complete
this arduous counter-clockwise loop leave from the back of the Blueberry Hill
Inn towards intersection #5.  Continue straight on the main trail until
reaching intersection #9 where you should follow the fork right.  The
trail leads up to intersection #17 where it then goes left before reaching
#19, the beginning of Sucker Brook Trail.  Make a left here and continue
climbing before topping out and beginning the descent to Sucker Brook Clearing
and intersection #33.  Take a left here staying on the Sucker Brook Trail
until hitting intersection #35.  Once again make a left and enter onto
Stewart Trail.  This trail leads south until intersection #9. Here the
loop goes right and cruises back down to the Inn.

Note: It is possible to connect the Hogback Mountain and Sucker Brook-Stewart
Loops.  At junction #27 on the Hogback Loop go right until intersection
#29, the beginning of the Lee Todd Trail.  Follow this short trail to
#19 where it picks up the Sucker Brook-Stewart Loop. Approximate Time: 2 hours

Romance Mountain Loop

Approximate Time: 3 hours

This extraordinary loop combines many trails of the Blueberry Hill area and
provides the most challenging ride. Following the Hogback Mountain Loop out
to the dirt road this loop continues straight past intersection #25 and follows
the Halfdan Kuhnle Trail up and around Romance Mountain.  This section
of the trail gains almost 1000 feet of elevation in 1 1/2 miles before dropping
down into Romance Clearing.  The trail continues left at intersection
#31 and then joins the Sucker Brook Trail at Sucker Brook Clearing, intersection
#33.  From here the loop follows the same trail as mentioned above back
to the Inn.

Note: A longer loop is possible by linking the Romance Mountain Loop and
the Sucker Brook-Stewart Loop.  Take the Romance Mountain Loop until
you reach the descent to Sucker Brook Clearing and intersection #33.
Take a left here staying on the Sucker Brook Trail until hitting intersection
#35.  Once again make a left to join the Stewart Trail.  This trail
leads south until intersection #9. Here the loop goes right and continues
back down to the Inn.

Directions: Follow Route 7 south to Route 125 which heads east through
the Green Mountains and up towards Ripton.  One mile past the Ripton
Country Store turn right on US Forest Service(USFS) Rd. 32, also known as
the Goshen-Ripton road.  Follow this dirt road for 5 miles before arriving
at the Blueberry Hill Inn on your left.

Leicester Hollow Trail

Approximate Time: 2 hours

The Leicester Hollow Trail links the Blueberry Inn to The Churchill House in
Goshen. The beginning of the ride follows the first part of the Beginner’s
Loop from the Blueberry Inn to intersection #4. Here, go right keeping straight
past #6 to intersection #8. At the T-junction, head left to #10 which is another
T-junction. Turn right and follow the trail as it hooks around downhill to
Silver Lake. This Leicester Hollow Brook Trail heads straight toward The Churchill
House. In that area, Go straight through intersections #8 and #1. From The
Churchill House, take Route 73 left toward Goshen for a short period. Turn
left onto USFS 32 which is the Goshen-Ripton Road and follow back to The Blueberry

Snake Mountain

Approximate time: 1 hour (without singletrack exploration)

The trail is fairly wide, but it is a long uphill climb to the top of the mountain.
You’ll need thighs of iron to make it without a few breaks.  After
the initial, fairly gentle approach from the road the trail comes to a T.
Make a left here and take care to follow the obvious wide trail all the way
to the top. The real fun begins after the painful ascent. There are singletrack
trails on the north side of the mountain. Enjoy exploration here before heading
back down reaping the rewards of your work on the way to the top.

Directions: To reach Snake Mountain from campus, drive west on Route 125
to Route 22A. Turn right and follow north to Willmarth Rd. Continue on Willmarth
to the junction with Mountain Road at 3.5 miles. The trail is at this junction
while the parking is a few hundred yards beyond on the left. It is possible
to bike out to the mountain and takes approximately one hour.

Additional Resources:

  • Mountain Bike Vermont, Kate Carter 1998
  • 25 Mountain Bike Tours in Vermont, William Busha 1996