While fat biking is not exclusively a winter sport, the made-for-snow tires make fat biking a great way to stay fit in the winter. In the summer, it’s easy to find places to bike, since fat bikes can be used on virtually any biking trail. But the winter is a little bit more challenging as many groomed trails are still off-limits to fat bikes.
For example, snowmobile trails are some of the most tempting places to fat bike, since the snow is packed and the trails are well-maintained. However, in many cases it’s not only dangerous to ride on these trails, but also illegal. Before you bike, be sure to check out your state’s guidelines for where to ride your fat bike safely and legally. Check out our Fat Bike Regulations by State post for more information on your state’s rules about winter fat biking.
The dangers of biking on the same trails as snowmobiles, which travel as fast as 55 mph, is not the only issue. Most Grant-in-Aid trails are no-trespassing zones for fat bikers because snowmobilers pay for the trails’ maintenance. In Minnesota, most cross country ski trails are also off-limits, as well as any trails dedicated solely to hiking or snowshoeing.
However as more and more fat bikers hit the snow each winter, there’s all the more need for them to know where it’s OK to bike. Because of this many states have posted information for fat bike riders. For example, Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources has developed a Winter 2014-2015 Fat Biking Pilot Project which lets fat bikers know which state trails are fair game and which trails to avoid. The project’s goal is to also expand fat biking opportunities (as of December 2014, 78 miles of state trails were open to fat biking).
The largest groomed fat biking trail in Minnesota is the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, which boasts 20 miles of trail for fat bikes near Brainerd, MN. The second largest trail open to fat bikes in MN is the Douglas State Trail, which features 13 miles of trail in Rochester, MN.
You don’t have to travel too far out of the metro area, however. There are three state trails in the metro area between 6 and 12 miles long: Fort Snelling State Park (6 miles), Luce Line State Trail (7 miles), and Gateway State Trail (12 miles). See the Minnesota DNR website for more places to ride in the winter.
But it’s not only state trails that are opening up to fat bike riders. There is also a growing number of locally owned trails–including a number of ski resorts–that are starting to allow fat bikes on their trails. Check out our Minnesota Guide to Winter Fat Bike Trails to see a full list of trails (frequently updated).
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