Until recently, come winter, most of us would stash our bicycles away. The fat bike, equally at home on snow as it is on many single-track trails, gives riders a way to rock ‘n roll through the snowy months. Looking to rent a fatty or take your own ride on a road trip? These are some of the best winter fat biking destinations to be had in the Inland Northwest.
The Methow Valley and Winthrop have long been known for world class Nordic skiing. Next time you go, try the winter bike trails too. In addition to the roughly 15 miles of fat bike trails at the Loup Loup Ski Bowl Nordic area, the Methow Trails map for 2017-18 shows 10 more trails groomed for riding. The 2018-19 map is being revised as the story goes to press but will have no significant changes. Some trails are shared with cross-country skiers, snowshoers, or both. Some allow dogs. All together, these trails provide another 20 miles of riding. Pearrygin Lake State has another 5.5 miles of riding. Given the various loops, connections, and out-and-back options, there’s plenty of riding to be had. All trails are rated beginner or intermediate.
Adrienne Schaefer, partnership manager with Methow Trails, suggests renting a bike from Methow Cycle and Sport, Cascades Outdoor Store, Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies, or North Cascades Cycle Werks. “The trails are groomed for biking on a hard surface, with lots of trails for people who are just starting out,” Schaefer says. Kids 17 and under ride free on the Winthrop trail system.
Whitefish Bike Retreat (WBR) provides a wide variety of winter fat biking options, all free. According to owner Cricket Butler, the WBR (not to be confused with the Whitefish Bike Park) offers about 1.5 miles of groomed riding for beginners, and volunteers groom another 12+ miles of Forest Service road. The 33-inch packed surface is suited for beginner and intermediate riders. The groomed roads provide access to Murry, Dollar, Woods and Beaver Lakes.
Butler says there is “one track that goes out toward North Beaver. To ride it, people need to be able to take care of the bike and themselves.” At the lakes, conditions and safety permitting, fat bikers can ride the on the ice. For more of a challenge, there is the Whitefish Trail, but even at its best, packed by snowshoers and Nordic skiers, fat bikers will be riding a narrow trench as opposed to the wider groomed roads.
Rossland calls itself the mountain biking capital of Canada, and local bike shop Revolution Cycles says it’s also a “hotbed of fat biking in the winter.” Even the folks in Nelson are impressed. Local rider Rory Belter says the local community is working hard to expand Rossland’s winter fat biking. “Bring your skis and bike, and you are bound to have a good time. If it’s a good ski day, it’s probably a bad fat bike day. If it’s skied out, it’s probably a good bike day.”
This year over 11k of single-track, including 6 different trails that can be linked together via short connectors, will be machine groomed and accessible from town. Another 7k of trails are also groomed at the nearby Redstone Golf Resort. Those looking for a real challenge can ride the famed Seven Summits Trail in the snow, but this one requires the right weather and snow conditions. Revolution Cycles rents fat bikes and is working on a new map of the winter trails around Rossland so pay them a visit when you go. //
Bradley Bleck teaches English at Spokane Falls Community College and is doing his utmost to not get fat over the winter. He most recently wrote about fall mountain biking opportunities around the region in the October issue of Out There.