Where to ride fat bikes in Minnesota
2015-2016 Winter Fat Biking Pilot Project
We've launched a pilot project to help people find safe and appropriate places to ride fat bikes this winter. Groomed snowmobile and ski trails may look appealing, but most of these trails are not open to other uses due to safety concerns and the fact their grooming costs are paid through user fees.
Here are the trails we recommend that welcome fat bikes. Click on the map for more information:
Click on a topic below to reveal more information. Click again to hide.
What's a "fat bike?"
Fat biking has been an emerging winter sport in the Midwest for several years and is expected to continue to grow in popularity.
A fat bike is a bicycle with large, low pressure tires designed for travel over snow or sandy soil. The standard equipment guidelines for a fat bike that will be primarily ridden on snow are:
- Wide tires. Deep snow coverage may require tires wider than 3.5 inches.
- Low tire pressure (often under 10 PSI).
- Enough flotation that you can travel over snow without leaving a rut deeper than one inch.
- Sufficient traction that you are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line.
Find snow and trail conditions
For information about a specific trail, click on the map above to go to the state park or state trail's main page—most of them provide at least a weekly update. If you have additional questions or are uncertain if a trail is open or safe for fat biking, please give us a call:
- For fat biking on trails in state parks, contact the park office (contact is at bottom of each park's main page).
- For fat biking on state trails, contact your local parks and trails office.
Where to ride
Winter fat biking is allowed on trails that are signed and identified on DNR maps as open to fat biking, such as:
- State forest roads or trails that are identified as allowing bicycling, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.*
- State park and state recreation area trails designated for bicycling, including some non-motorized multi-use trails that may be shared with skiers, walkers, or snowshoers, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.*
- State park roads where motor vehicles are allowed, except those posted as closed for biking.
- State trails, except those groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.
*NOTE: Most groomed ski and snowmobile trails do not allow other uses. Skier and snowmobiler user fees pay for grooming and maintenance.
Lake Bemidji State Park: There will be a one day special event at the park March 5, 2016, when all ski trails in the park will open to fat biking. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the event will start at 11 a.m. Get more event details here.
Minnesota State Parks and Trails recommends these places to go fat biking this winter:
- Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area: 20 miles of groomed trails for premier fat biking experiences. Download map
- Jay Cooke State Park: 5.4 miles of trails to be groomed for fat biking. Download map
- Split Rock Lighthouse State Park: 8.7 miles of trails to be groomed for fat biking. Download map
- Fort Snelling State Park: 6 miles of trails packed for non-motorized multi-use, including fat biking. Download map
- Douglas State Trail: 13 miles of trail groomed for non-motorized multi-use, including fat biking. Download map
- Bronk Forest Unit—Plowline Trail: 7.5 miles of trail groomed by a local mountain bike club for non-motorized multi-use, including fat biking. Download map
Where to avoid
Groomed snowmobile and ski trails may look appealing as you're scouting areas to ride, but most of these trails are not open to other uses due to safety concerns and the fact their grooming costs are paid through user fees. Please be thoughtful and courteous as you seek out places to enjoy winter fat biking.
Fat biking is not allowed on:
- Most snowmobile trails, including the grant-in-aid (GIA) trail system. As a general rule for everyone's safety, please avoid fat biking on any snowmobile trail.
- Most groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails, which are for skiing only
- Any trail that is not specifically identified as open for bicycling, including hiking or snowshoeing trails in state parks or state recreation areas.
Fat biking safety and weather conditions
Fat biking safety tips:
- There are inherent risks to fat biking—ride at your own risk.
- Test the fit and function of your equipment before each ride.
- Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
- Wear bright colored clothing so others can see you.
- Obey all rules and signs, and ride open trails only.
- Ride with a friend to promote fun and safety.
- Always yield the trail and let others know you are coming.
- Be aware of your surroundings and other trail users.
- Ride to your ability and be in control at all times, remembering that the faster you ride, the greater your risks, so always keep your speed at a level that will allow full control.
- Do not ride wet or soft trails.
- Parents should use extreme caution when allowing children to ride.
Be aware of winter conditions:
Overcast skies causing "flat light" and white-out blizzards can make it hard to see the trail. In white-out conditions, there are no shadows, horizon or clouds, and all depth perception and orientation may be lost. Riding during this weather is not recommended.
"Flat light" can obscure features and terrain. Visual references are important for safe riding. Please go slow and use caution in these conditions.
There is no such thing as "safe ice," and ice seldom freezes uniformly. The terrain can greatly change with icy conditions, and the ice may not be uniform. Please use extreme caution.
Other fat biking resources
- Explore Minnesota Tourism Fat Biking article
- International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)
- Fat bike best practices from IMBA
- Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) partners with Twin Cities metro area park providers on a variety of winter fat biking opportunities
- Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores (COGGS) partners with park providers in the Duluth area on winter fat biking opportunities