Bartonville Mountain a slow starter’s dream

She used to be such a great excuse. When my 9-year-old daughter, who we call “Little Wren,” was smaller, we did small hikes. She was a great reason to explore those little mountains and nature preserves I’d overlooked in my quest for bigger peaks.


Now, Little Wren is becoming Medium-Sized Wren and we don’t have to water things down anymore. A few weeks ago, she charged up Hurricane Mountain in the Adirondack High Peaks, leaving my wife, Gillian, and I impressed and a little stunned.

So, on a sunny September Sunday morning, we didn’t need to do an easy hike but, because of this newspaper, we did. That was the day we received the puzzle book supplement, which is a day of great celebration in our house. Instead of packing up early for a big hike, we poured some hot chocolate, a cup of coffee and settled in at the kitchen counter for some word searches and crypto quotes.

We found Bartonville Mountain a slow starter’s dream. The 1,388-foot peak is just off Exit 25 of the Northway, about an hour from home.

The trail begins at “The Hub” on Market Street in Brant Lake. Ample signs from the parking lot point you to the hiking trail. Bartonville also hosts a variety of mountain bike trails, part of the Brant Lake Bike Park – a network of six miles of single track. There are no bikes allowed on the hiking trail, but we enjoyed watching the bikers doing their mountain bike thing on other trails when we spotted them through the trees.


Unlike us, who started slow, Bartonville starts quick. There are views of the Town of Brant Lake after just a few steps. The professionally designed trail swings through rocky glades where Gillian and Little Wren stopped to watch monarch butterflies and frogs. (Career question: Why didn’t my school guidance counselor tell me there were jobs like professional trail designer?)

“I’m not even tired,” Little Wren said as we approached the top. Gillian and I regretted failing to load up Little Wren with a heavy backpack to slow her down just a little.

The trail ends at a clearing with a view north to Brant Lake. It’s less than a mile to the summit and barely warranted a break but we stopped to soak up the sunshine and that view.

Lunch waited at the trailhead. We hiked down the mountain and into “The Hub.” Located at the foot of Bartonville Mountain and the southern reaches of Brant Lake, The Hub is like … actually, there isn’t really anything to compare to The Hub.

Part restaurant, part tavern and part bike shop, The Hub is best described by owner Drew Cappabianca as a ski lodge or golf clubhouse except for cycling. Bike artwork decorates the walls, bike helmets line the tables inside and bikes themselves fill the racks outside. Bikes everywhere. It’s kind of how I picture heaven, although in heaven the beer will be free.

The Hub and the trails on Bartonville Mountain are linked by Cappabianca’s vision. With a quilt of funding from crowd-sourcing, local business and local government along with some hard-working volunteers, the Brant Lake Bike Park came to be and the area is richer for it.

Gillian, Little Wren and I sat at a table in the sun, enjoying sandwiches and taking in the scene. It’s the perfect place to bring an impressionable young girl. Mountain bikers rolled around the parking lot, warming up before hitting the terrain at the Brant Lake Bike Park. Road bikers rolled by on the pavement, stopping to fill water bottles or grab lunch before continuing on one of the many great loops in the area.

The Hub is a business the way general stores are in small Vermont towns. You’ll find things you need there – goods and services, sure, but you’ll find also something else, a community.

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