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Embracing Winter Wonders: Fat Biking Adventures in Northern Michigan

Nestled in the heart of the Great Lakes region, Northern Michigan is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially during the winter months. While snow-capped landscapes might deter some, for fat biking enthusiasts, it's an invitation to embark on thrilling adventures across the snowy terrain.

The Rise of Fat Biking

Fat biking, with its distinctive oversized tires designed for traversing snow, sand, and challenging terrain, has gained immense popularity in recent years. And in Northern Michigan, where winter paints the landscape in a pristine white, these sturdy bikes have become the perfect companion for exploration.

Traverse the Winter Wonderland

Picture yourself amidst a serene forest adorned with a blanket of snow, the crisp air kissing your cheeks as you pedal through trails that wind around frozen lakes and whispering pines. That's the allure of fat biking in Northern Michigan—a chance to experience nature's raw beauty in its winter cloak.

The Trails Await

Traverse City, Harbor Springs, Marquette—these towns serve as gateways to a plethora of fat biking trails catering to all skill levels. From beginner-friendly loops to challenging single tracks, each trail offers a unique blend of scenic vistas and exciting riding experiences.

  • Glacial Hills: Managed by NMMBA, this network of trails near Bellaire offers a mix of terrain, from rolling hills to challenging climbs, surrounded by picturesque landscapes.

  • Vasa Singletrack: Located near Traverse City, this trail system maintained by NMMBA is renowned for its well-groomed paths and diverse routes, providing an ideal playground for fat biking enthusiasts.

  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail: This picturesque trail winds through the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, providing breathtaking views of Lake Michigan while catering to riders of varying abilities. The trail is groomed from Glen Arbor to Empire (7.5 miles) and from Glen Arbor to Port Oneida (3 miles). The Empire to Glen Arbor section is quite hilly. You’ll also pass by the Sleeping Bear Dunes – an entirely different beast in a blanket of snow!

  • Boyne Forest Trail: This is a multi-use trail in the Boyne City School Forest. This first loop is intended for riders of all abilities. the second loop has more intermediate features.  The third loop, which is on the other side of Erickson Road, has more advanced features.  Most of the trails are directional.  The trails are constructed as connecting loops, so it is easy to navigate.  Maps at the trailheads are currently being updated.

  • Noquemanon Trail Network: A couple hours north of the lower peninsula, located in Marquette, this extensive network of trails provides an adrenaline rush for experienced riders. Traverse varying terrains, from steep climbs to thrilling descents, amidst the stunning backdrop of Lake Superior.

Embracing the Winter Spirit

Beyond the thrill of riding through snowy trails, Northern Michigan offers a vibrant winter culture. After a day of exhilarating biking, immerse yourself in local charm—warm up with a cup of cocoa at quaint cafes, savor hearty meals at cozy restaurants, and perhaps even indulge in some ice fishing or snowshoeing.

Tips for a Memorable Fat Biking Experience

  • Gear up: Dress in layers to stay warm and dry. Don't forget essentials like gloves, goggles, and a helmet.

  • Prepare your bike: Ensure your fat bike is well-maintained and equipped with suitable tires for snowy conditions.

  • Safety first: Familiarize yourself with the trail map, ride within your skill level, and carry necessary supplies like water and emergency gear.

Winter Trail Etiquette

The Fat bike trail will be accessible from either the Main Vandermark trailhead or the Orchard Hill trailhead. We will have approximately 7.5 miles of groomed, flowy Glacial Hills awesomeness for your riding pleasure. 

We ask that Fat bikes adhere to the following etiquette;

      Do not ride when conditions are too soft. If you are leaving a rut deeper than an inch, having a hard time riding in a straight line, or pushing your bike, the snow is too soft and you should not be riding on the trails.

      Tires must be 3.7′ or bigger.

      Tire Pressure: 4psi or less. Tire should “give” easily when you squeeze them. A pocket-sized electronic gauge is very helpful.

      Temperature: Below 30 degrees. If it is above 30 degrees the trails are not suitable for biking.

      Groups should spread across the skate lane so as not to create a rut by having many cyclists follow the exact same line.

In addition to the Fat bike trails, we will also be grooming 3.25mi of XC Ski trail on the North Orchard Hill trails, and 2.5mi of groomed foot trail from the Vandermark Lot. All other trails will remain Un Groomed and open for everything.

All Users please keep these rules in mind;

       Do not walk on the Fat bike trail without Snowshoes. Foot/Boot traffic use Groomed Foot Path provided.

      Dogs are not allowed on Fat bike or XC Ski trail.

      Be an ambassador for your sport - be polite, educate other users, discourage bad behavior, follow the rules, support grooming, and we’ll all have a good time this winter.

      Do not use trails when conditions are too soft. If you see you’re leaving ruts, the snow is too soft and you should not be on the trail.

      If you must walk, walk off to the side of the trail as to not leave holes in trail.

The Lasting Charm

Fat biking in Northern Michigan isn't just about the thrill of riding—it's about connecting with nature in its winter glory, embracing the challenge, and relishing the camaraderie with fellow outdoor enthusiasts. The memories forged on these snowy trails often linger as cherished tales shared around the warmth of a fireplace, adding another layer to the enchanting narrative of Northern Michigan's winter wonderland.

In the realm of outdoor adventures, fat biking in Northern Michigan stands tall as an exhilarating and immersive experience—a testament to the enduring allure of nature's wintry embrace.

So, gear up, hop on that fat bike, and explore the snowy trails of Northern Michigan—where winter unveils its beauty to those willing to embrace its frosty charms.

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