Guide to Fat Tire Biking in Michigan
Fat Tires: New Michigan Winter Craze
Fans of Michigan bicycling, don’t despair fat tire biking is here to stay!
Winter may be here, too, but that doesn’t mean the bike season is over. There’s a new way to get outside and enjoy snowy Michigan: try a winter ride on a nordic trail.
If you’re craving some winter excitement, the next thrilling outdoor adventure is here and a winter trail is in your future.
All you need is a winter fat tire bike (complete with wide tires), trail maps and a bike helmet and you’re on your way to some pure Michigan winter fun.
Different from Road Biking
Fat Tire Biking is taking over the winter sports world. A Fat Tire Bike is equipped with flat pedals and wider tires (about 4 to 5 inches in width) that grip rough terrain for a smoother ride on paved trails.
You might find a bike equipped with front suspension for additional shock absorption, but it isn’t always necessary
But when you bring it off the road, and on to unpaved trails of snow and sand, you’re in for the ride of your life. It’s definitely a challenge at first, but if you don’t mind a workout, you can bike to your heart’s content.
Luckily for us, Michigan is one of the best places in the world for this wonderful winter sport.
Michigan is a headquarters for winter sports enthusiasts: downhill skiing, crosscountry skiing, snow tubing, dog sledding, sleigh rides and winter horseback riding are some of the top draws at nordic centers around the state, and winter cycling and bike riding have now joined the list of fun winter activities.
Five Great Spots to Try Fat Tire Biking in Michigan
Fat tire biking has been getting more popular recently, and for good reason.
The adrenaline rush from biking in the snow is second to none, and thrill seekers everywhere just can’t get enough. Especially during the winter season, snow biking is sure to bring you an icy adventure. With the right bike and gear, you’re in for an amazing adventure.
Michigan’s paved trails, state parks, and mountain vistas are waiting for you to try out your new favorite hobby.
If you’re looking for some fun winter trip ideas or that winter thrill-ride, read on for the best fat tire biking trails in northern Michigan.
It should come as no surprise that Crystal Mountain, on top of their skiing and snowshoeing, also has awesome fat biking opportunities.
Over 12 miles of winter bike trails cut through the beautiful scenery of Benzie County. They offer groomed trails exclusively for fat tire biking, so no skiers or hikers should interrupt you on your wild ride. And if you want some extra adventure, bike at night on their lighted trails.
Bike and equipment rental is available on a first-come-first-serve basis, starting at $19 per person for one hour, or $25 per person for two hours. Helmet rentals are also available.
If you’re not quite ready to adventure on your own, their Fat Tire Tours take you around the forest with a seasoned guide.
With all of these great possibilities, Crystal Mountain is the perfect place for aspiring fat tire bikers to get their winter thrills.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
From Empire to Glen Arbor, the Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail offers over 22 miles of amazing hilly rides in the trail system. Experience the dunes on an exhilarating ride through rough or paved terrain.
As this trail is multi-use, it’s also handicap accessible and designed for many different activities. Trail etiquette is important, so make sure to look out for other adventurers who may be skiing or hiking.
For bike rentals, try The Cyclery at Crystal River Outfitters in Glen Arbor, or Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak at the other edge of the trail in Empire.
Enjoy the Leelanau Trail, a paved off-road ride from Suttons Bay to Traverse City. The 17-mile water trail has beautiful views of Grand Traverse Bay, Suttons Bay, and all the scenery in between.
Or try the Leelanau State Park Fat Bike Trails, groomed trails cutting through the gorgeous meadows and forests of northern Michigan. All of these are hike, bike or shared trails, so remember to be respectful of all adventurers.
If you need to rent from a bike shop, then you’re in luck. Suttons Bay Bikes, Brick Wheels and Einstein Cycles are just some of the shops ready to accommodate your bike rental needs.
The best bike trails in Michigan can be found in Marquette. Famous for fat tire biking, Marquette’s trails are kind of a big deal.
The Noquemanon Trail Network is famous, even nationally acclaimed, for its amazing mountain biking trails. A huge network of trails surrounds Marquette, holding a variety of perfect Michigan trails for beginners and expert fat tire bicyclists alike. If you’re looking for the perfect fat tire bike trail, you’ll definitely want to check out the Noque.
The North Trails hold over 30 miles of non-motorized paths following the Dead River. In the winter, 13.5 miles of the northern singletrack are groomed specifically for fat tire biking.
Over 45 miles of flowing singletrack are also available in The South Trails, with 20 miles groomed for fat tires in the winter. Scenic views of frozen waterfalls, Lake Superior, and towering evergreens will guide you on your journey.
But wait- there’s more. Just north of Marquette, enjoy remote biking at the Saux Head trails with over seven miles of isolated, groomed trails.
And if you’re willing to travel outside of town, the RAMBA trails in Ishpeming offer over 77 miles of hand built singletrack. More than 20 miles of track are groomed in the winter for like-minded adventurous bikers.
You can find fat bike rentals at Sports Rack Marquette, which also serves as an information center for the bike world.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park
Journey deeper into the Upper Peninsula for 17 Miles of pure exhilaration. The Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Park is one of the best state parks for mountain biking.
Full of 60,000 acres of wild terrain and gorgeous views, these trails may be for the more experienced biker. Still, there’s nothing that compares to fat tire biking in the Porcupine Mountains.
Rent a fat tire bike at the nearby Porcupine Mountain Outpost.
About the Author
Nora Rhein is a student at Wayne State University majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Theatre Management. She writes for publications like The South End student newspaper and Ease Up Magazine. She also serves as the Low Brass Section Leader in the Warrior Marching Band, and loves to explore Michigan’s beautiful parks with her greyhound, Skyrocket.
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