Fat biking is a great way to get out and pedal during the winter. It can definitely be challenging, sometimes cold & wet, and sometimes you might not have the best trail conditions. But the more you do it, the better you get at mitigating all of these and have one heck of a time riding on snow! Plus the more people that ride the trails the better the trail conditions get. Personally, I love the break off the bike in the winter and get out and ski as much as I can. However, this year fat biking has been added to my quiver of winter sports and is a great option to ride out your front door (in Eagle at least!) for a morning or evening spin.
So, where can you fat bike in the Vail Valley?
Vail Nordic Center:
Offers 13k (8 miles) of groomed fat biking and snowshoe trails including 2.5k of fat biking only groomed trails. They also offer on-site fat bike rentals. Trail use fees do apply. For more information and a map go to the Vail Nordic Center website here.
EagleVail Golf Course:
Located on the EagleVail Golf Course, the EagleVail Nordic Trail provides more than 8K of free and open to the public groomed winter fat biking and nordic trail. For more information visit their website here.
Avon – Our Backyard & PB&J:
While a majority of the West Avon Preserve is closed from December 15 – April 15 to protect critical winter wildlife habitat, Our Backyard and PB&J (and top of Saddleridge from the PB&J intersection to the Beaver Creek Point trailhead) remain open year round. These trails are not groomed and offer a good challenge on the fat bike pending conditions.
Homestead Open Space:
The Homestead “L” Open Space in Edwards is open year round to biking including fat biking. These trails are not groomed but see a lot of of snowshoe/hiking use.
Eagle local, Jesse Horton riding his Why Cycles fat bike on the Boneyard trail.
There are plentiful groomed and not groomed fat biking options in Eagle. These include:
- Eagle Ranch Golf Course: Offers 6 miles of free and open to the public groomed nordic and fat biking trails
- Haymaker: The first two loops of Haymaker are open year round for hiking, snowshoeing, and fat biking. The 3rd loop is closed to protect critical winter wildlife until April 15th. Haymaker is not groomed but sees a lot of use and can often be in great fat biking condition in the morning and late evenings. *Be aware, this majority exposed South/West trail melts quickly and can get muddy even in the winter months. Remember, muddy trails are closed trails.
- Bellyache Rd: Is not groomed but sees a lot of hiking, skiing, and fat bike use. Climbing the road and descending Boneyard or Redneck Ridge make for excellent fat bike loops (pending conditions)!
- Boneyard: The popular summer trail is not groomed and open year round for hiking, snowshoeing, and fat biking. When fat bikers get out in numbers and the conditions are right, this is hands down the best fat bike ascent/descent in the valley!
- Redneck Ridge: Is not groomed and is open year round for hiking, snowshoeing, and fat biking. It does not see the use of Bellyache Rd or Boneyard and is normally not in great shape for fat biking. But the more fat bikers get out on it, the better the trail will be!
The Tennessee Pass Cookhouse & Nordic Center offers 16 miles of shared use groom trails. The views of the Sawatch range are incredible and the fat biking conditions are always great. They offer rentals, food, drink, yurts, and more. Trail use fees apply. Find more information on their website here.
Leadville/Cloud City Wheelers:
Leadville has some fantastic fat biking opportunities thanks to regular trail grooming by their local trails organization Cloud City Wheelers. Options include the groomed Mineral Belt Trail and groomed Timberline Trails near the CMC campus. The Cloud City Wheelers also host a fun and popular winter fat bike race series that supports their local trails.
Winter Fat Bike Trail Etiquette:
Great trail etiquette image that explains it all from our friends at the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance.
Forest Service Winter Fat Biking Travel Policy:
The White River National Forest’s 2011 Travel Management Plan (TMP) transitions from summer to winter every year from November 23 – May 20. Under the TMP, wheeled vehicles (including bikes) are limited to plowed routes during the winter use plan. Fat biking is allowed on roads open to wheeled vehicles that are plowed, which in our area is limited to Brush Creek Roads ending at Yeoman and Sylvan Lake.
The good news is that the White River National Forest acknowledges that technology has changed that enables mountain bikes greater capability to operate on packed snow since the 2011 Travel Management Plan was finalized. The WRNF is currently working with us (VVMTA) and the Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association to update their policy through a public process and develop a plan for potential “winter” routes that would be open to fat biking. Our goal is to allow fat biking where snowmobiles are allowed, and where skiers and hikers are currently compacting trails enough to ride fat bikes. When fat bikers follow and use proper trail etiquette, they should be welcomed on shared groomed trails such as is already happening locally on all trails/groomed nordic areas listed above. Stay tuned for more details but please e-mail us your thoughts in the meantime.
Where to Rent/Demo/Buy:
- Kind Bikes & Skis
- Moontime Cyclery
- Pedal Power
- Mountain Pedaler
- Colorado Bike Service
- Vail Nordic Center
- Tennessee Pass
- Cycles of Life in Leadville