Ever since fat bikes hit the scene, mountain bike season has greatly expanded— and so have the places you can go on two wheels. These thick, broad tires are designed to negotiate snow and sand, meaning you don’t have to cut your spins down single track as soon as fall ends, or where hard-packed dirt and gravel stop. That means you can have two MTB bucket lists, one for all the usual mountain bike destinations like Moab, Marin County, and the Colorado mountains, and another for all the places you can go once you load up your fat tire bike rack.
Three Of the Best Fat Biking Destinations In the U.S.
Here are three destinations where you’ll be grateful for extra wide tires and wide open landscapes:
Home to the largest dunes in the United States, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is already hugely popular with fans of off-highway vehicles and dirtbikes. It also boasts unparallelled opportunities to try your fat bike on a variety of terrain, from the kind of loose sand on steep inclines favored by sandboarders to the wet hardpack left behind by low tides.
Pedal past eerie, beautiful sea stacks— the name for the old pieces of headlands left off shore by erosion and time, which now peak up as tall spires, islands, and arches from the shallows of the Pacific. You can also wind your way into the Siuslaw National Forest to explore muddy wetlands and trails along rivers. Nearby is the Black Rock Mountain Bike Area, too, where you can test your mettle on the rolling hills of the Willamette Valley and man-made jumps, slopes, and slides.
Right next to Jay Cooke State Park, Mission Creek is the first professionally built mountain bike trail system in Duluth, and really is the cherry on top of this mountain biking sundae. Right on the shores of Lake Superior and the banks of the St. Louis River, Duluth also boasts Lester Park, which is great for beginners, as well as Hartley Park. All three hot spots are connected by the Duluth Traverse trail, which winds around the foothills of Spirit Mountain. The Traverse trail boasts 55 miles of singletrack and 85 miles of trail total.
For a different sort of trail experience, riders can follow the Duluth Beer Trail to breweries including Blacklist Brewery, Canal Park Brewing Co. and Bent Paddle Brewing Co. It’s easy to see why Duluth has made a name for itself not only as a serious mountain biking destination, but also was named “the beer capital of Minnesota” by Mayor Don Ness. Dubrue Brewery is near the Willard Munger State Trail, the fifth longest paved trail in the U.S., which can be a nice way to unwind once you’re worn out on ladders and berms.
If you’re ready for a serious road trip, load up your fat tire bike rack and work your way up to Anchorage, Alaska for some of the most scenic and secluded fat bike trails in the United States. While balloon tire bicycles have their own long history, fat biking as a sport was really born in Alaska, and it’s wonderful to get to explore the region where this mountain bike style coalesced into a sport all its own. Chester Creek Trail and the Coastal Trail are reliable year round as multi-use arteries. In the winter, Kincaid Park is famous for its miles of groomed single track. Every year, more and more trails are built and added to Anchorage’s collection, and each year new visitors discover why fat biking here is like nowhere else on earth.
If you love speed and a challenge, you might come up not just to check out the single track at your own pace, but for one of the fat bike races that take place here. Both the Frosty Bottom and the Big Fat Ride are based in Anchorage and draw crowds every year of competitors and spectators alike. The Frosty Bottom route runs 43 miles from Kincaid Park to Far North Bicentennial Park, while the Big Fat Ride is a fun-run style race, low-key and family friendly, almost like a parade. Whichever you choose, know that you’ll be seeing the best side of Alaskan winters from your fat bike.
Fat Biking Coast to Coast
If you can’t make it to Florence, Duluth, or Anchorage, don’t worry! Fat biking is more popular than ever, and is a great alternative to skiing, snow shoeing, or cross-country. More ski resorts than ever are grooming trails for fat bikers to enjoy in addition to their other winter sports, and almost any beach can be turned into fat biking paradise if you read the tide tables. No matter where you are in the country, there’s a fat biking destination just a short road trip away. So load up that fat tire bike rack and head out to where sand and snow make the single track extra gnarly.