Groomed snowmobile and ski trails may look appealing, but many of these trails are not open for other uses due to safety concerns and the cost of grooming.
- What's a "fat bike?"
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 3.7 inches or larger.
- Low tire pressure (often under 8 PSI).
- Enough flotation that you can travel over snow without leaving a rut deeper than one inch. If you are leaving a rut deeper than one inch conditions are too soft for biking.
- Sufficient traction that you are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line.
- 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: Please stay off groomed ski and snowmobile trails. Skier and snowmobiler user fees pay for grooming and maintenance.
Minnesota State Parks and Trails recommends these places to go fat biking this winter:
- Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area: 40 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 multi-use, including fat biking. Download map
- Fort Snelling State Park: 6 miles of trails packed 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
- 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
- Where to avoid
Groomed snowmobile and ski trails may look appealing as you're scouting areas to ride, but 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:
- 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.
- Groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails.
- 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.