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It's a biker's heaven here

Forget Moab and Slick Rock: Vermont rocks when it comes to the hard tail, soft tail, off-trail fun of mountain biking.

We're not just talking a park here or there: Try the whole state, top to bottom, east to west, bike path to goat path, beginner's joy to bone-rattlin' downhill.

There's 9,000 miles or so to explore, filled with New England's best-natured scenery Start with Vermont's gravel roads and old logging trails. Grab a Vermont Atlas, or one of the many mountain biking guides to Vermont, and go. There's 9,000 miles or so to explore, filled with New England's best scenery and quaint villages. Your legs are the limit, and there's little traffic to contend with.

Then there's mountain biking hot spots like Randolph and the Mad River Valley resort area, Moosalamoo in Goshen and Putney. Or the booming bike haven of East Burke, where the non-profit Kingdom Trails has created a spectacular 100-mile mapped complex of off-road trails and single track (highest ratio of moose to mountain bikers in the U.S.).

Many Vermont ski resorts, like Mt. Snow, home of the nation's first Mountain Biking School, feature riding and rentals with lift-serviced trails. Several also host pro races and bike festivals. The Catamount Family Center near Burlington has popular weekly races where everyone can test their skills, as well as demo and rent bikes or go on a fun family outing.

In the wild Northeast Kingdom, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center features bike rentals, clinics and guided tours on a mapped, 200-mile network of scenic dirt roads and trails.

For easier-on-the-legs riding and premier foliage viewing, not to be missed are Vermont's bike paths in Stowe, Burlington and the 26-mile rural Mississquoi rail trail between St. Albans and Richford. Add it all up, and Vermont's the real wheel.

To learn more about biking routes in the Champlain Valley, visit www.travel-vermont.com.

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