New Fatbike Trails Opening Up Around Minnesota

With the ever-increasing popularity of fatbikes, Winter trail access in Minnesota is growing.  The Minnesota DNR issued a News Release last week adding 58 new miles open to fatbiking in Minnesota State Parks and on State Trails.  These are not the only new places to ride in Minnesota this Winter, more are popping up around the state.

Twin Cities Area

The City of Golden Valley has partnered with the Three Rivers Park District and will groom two multi-use trails at Brookview Golf Course that will be open to fatbiking.  Trail lengths will be 3/4 mile and 3 1/2 miles of unlit corduroy that will be maintained through late February.  The Brookview Grill will be open for food and cocktails Friday through Sunday until February 16th.  For more information see my post Brookview Golf Course Opens to Fatbikes This Winter.

Lake Elmo Park Reserve has 2.5 miles on the Big Bluestem Trail that will be packed multi-use and includes fatbiking.  A Washington County Parks Vehicle Permit is required on all vehicles entering the park.  More information can be found in the Washington County Parks Winter Trails-Lake Elmo Park Reserve Brochure.

Cleary Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake grooms trails for cross-country skiing and according to Explore Minnesota it also has a "fat tire" trail with bike rentals available during the winter.  Call Cleary Lake Regional Park (763-694-7777) for more information.

As part of the announcement from the Minnesota DNR last week, Fort Snelling State Park has added 6 new miles of packed multi-use trails.  The Luce Line State Trail is groomed for multi-use including fatbiking from Vicksburg Lane to Stubbs Bay Road.  The Gateway State Trail is plowed from Cuyuga Street to Jamaca Avenue opening up 11.9 miles of trails to all winter biking.

Southern MN

CROCT (Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails) opened their first mtb trail at Sechler Park in Northfield on November 15th.  The 1.2 mile two-way singletrack runs through the wooded floodplain along the Cannon River and is open to Winter biking.  For the latest trail conditions follow @CROCTconditions on Twitter.

Sechler Park River Bottoms Trail

The Mankato Area Mountain Bikers (MAMB) have finished the two loops of mountain bike trails at the Kiwanis Recreation Area and they are open for Winter fatbiking.  The short loop is a 1 mile beginner-rated trail and the long loop is a 4 mile intermediate-rated trail.  For updated trail conditions at the Kiwanis MTB Trail, visit the MAMB Facebook page.

Kiwanis Mountain Bike Trail

The Winona Area Mountain Bikers (WAMB) will be grooming the trails at the top of Cherry Hill and portions of Holzinger Lodge this Winter.  According to a post on the MORC Trail Conditions Forum for Holzinger Lodge, "WAMB has come to an agreement with the City of Winona to groom portions of the trail that are accessible by snow machine. This will include the Low Rollers and the Wildwood Loop at the top. Cistern, Horse Trail and Quarry will not be groomed due to the rough terrain."  For updates on these two trails, visit the WAMB Facebook page.

The Minnesota DNR has opened 13 miles of groomed trails from Pine Island to Rochester on the Douglas State Trail to fatbiking as well as 6 miles of groomed trails at the Blazing Star State Trail/Myre-Big Island State Park.


Central & Northern MN

Isanti County Parks has added over 15 miles of multi-use (hiking, snow shoeing, fat tire biking or cross country skiing) groomed trails this Winter.  These include 5 miles at Springvale County Park, 3 miles at Becklin Homestead County Park, 3 miles at Irvin and John Anderson County Park, 2 miles at Vegsund Family County Park and 2 miles at Wayside Prairie County Park.  For the latest trail conditions, visit the Isanti County Parks Facebook page or call 763-689-8220.

Image Credit: Stearns County Parks
Stearns County Parks has opened up fatbiking on its multi-use (Winter Walking/Dog Walking/Snowshoeing/Fat Tire Biking) trails in five parks. These parks include Kraemer Lake–Wildwood County Park, Lake Koronis Regional Park, Mississippi River County Park, Quarry Park & Nature Preserve and Warner Lake County Park.  For more information contact Stearns County Parks at 320-255-6172 or by email at parkinfo@co.stearns.mn.us.

Soo Line West
Soo Line East

The Morrison County Board of Commissioners recently reviewed its rules for recreational trails including the use of fatbikes.  The Recreational Trail Rules and Regulations Ordinance that will affect the Soo Line East and Soo Line West trails would allow snowmobiling, fat-tire bicycling and cross country skiing from December 1st through March 31st as long as there is snow cover of three or more inches on the trail.  This will provide 36 miles of trail for fatbiking.  The ordinance also states “the trail is closed and may not be used for any purpose (hiking, biking, skiing, ATVing or snowmobiling) from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30 of each year.”  For more information or questions regarding the use of these trails should contact the Morrison County Public Works Department at 320-632-0121.

COGGS (Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores) will be grooming six miles of newly completed trails at Mission Creek and “purposeful snowshoeing” the trails at Brewers Park in Duluth to pack the trails for fatbike riding.  Brewer Park consists of Brewer Park (beginner), Homebrew, Lollygagger and Kissing Booth and links up with Piedmont across Haines Road.  For trail conditions at Mission Creek visit @COGGSMissionCrk and Piedmont/Brewer Park visit @COGGSPiedmontTC.

Maplelag Resort in Callaway announced last week it will have their snowshoe trail and the three miles of Twin Lakes Singletrack packed and open for fatbiking.  Forest roads in the area will also be another option for fatbike riding.  For more information or questions contact Maplelag Resort by calling them at 218-375-4466 or sending an email to maplelag@tvutel.com.

The Minnesota DNR has 20 miles of groomed trails at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area.  New trails include 5.4 miles of groomed trails at Jay Cooke State Park and 8.7 miles of groomed trails for fatbikes and ski skating at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park.

Remember to always follow IMBA's Fat Bike Best Practices and help give our sport a good name to gain more trail access in the future.


MN DNR Issues News Release on New Fatbike Riding Opportunities

Minnehaha Trail-Fort Snelling State Park
Image Credit: Bonnie Moebeck

The Minnesota DNR issued a News Release on December 15th that details the expansion of fatbike riding opportunities throughout the state.  These opportunities include 58 new miles open to fatbiking in Minnesota State Parks and on State Trails.  This is in addition to the 20 miles already in use at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area near Ironton.  Minnesota State Parks and Trails has also implemented a Winter Fat Biking Pilot Project to assist in finding places to ride and they would also like rider feedback that includes comments, suggestions and ways to improve these new winter fatbike trails.

The Minnesota DNR has maps of these new fatbike-friendly trails available for download.  These maps clearly detail fatbike/multi-use trails from snowshoe/ski/hiking only trails through the use of color to distinguish use (see each map's legend).

Image Credit: Minnesota DNR

In Northern Minnesota, Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area has 20 miles of groomed trails, Jay Cooke State Park has added 5.4 miles of trails to be groomed and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park will groom 8.7 miles of trails for fatbikes and ski skating.

Twin Cities Metro Area fatbike trail opportunities include Fort Snelling State Park with 6 miles of packed muti-use trails, the Luce Line State Trail has 7 miles of groomed multi-use trails and the Gateway State Trail is plowed from Cuyuga Street to Jamaca Avenue opening up 11.9 miles of trails to all winter biking.

In Southern Minnesota there are 13 miles of groomed trails from Pine Island to Rochester on the Douglas State Trail and the Blazing Star State Trail/Myre-Big Island State Park has added 6 miles of groomed trails.

Image Credit: Jake Hawkes/IMBA

Other opportunities for fatbiking from the MN DNR include:

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 closed for biking.
  • State trails, except those groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.
*NOTE: Most ski and snowmobile trails do not allow other uses. Skier and snowmobiler user fees pay for grooming and maintenance.

Areas to avoid riding fatbikes from the MN DNR:

While groomed snowmobile and ski trails can be an appealing ride option, most of those types of trails are not open to other uses due to concerns regarding safety and trail grooming costs that are paid through user fees. Please remember to be thoughtful and courteous as you seek out opportunities to enjoy the sport of winter fat biking.
Winter fat biking is not allowed on:

  • Most 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.
  • Most groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails, which are for skiing only
  • Any trail that is not specifically identified as open for bicycling, including hiking or snowshoeing trails in state parks or state recreation areas.

For more information on where to ride fatbikes in Minnesota, contact the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Remember to always follow IMBA's Fat Bike Best Practices.


Gift Ideas for the Cyclist on Your List

The holidays are almost here and many of you have a cyclist to shop for.  I have compiled a list of  gift ideas for products that I use and enjoy.  There is something here for just about any type of rider and budget.

Fix It Sticks

The new Fix It Sticks Replaceable Edition is the ultimate compact multi-tool a cyclist wants with them for repairs or adjustments during a ride.  Its small size fits easily into a seat pack or jersey pocket and comes with 8 bits (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, Phillips #2, Torx 25) to handle most jobs.  Steel construction gives Fix It Sticks 40 ft/lbs of torque and the "T" configuaration provides plenty of leverage.  Available from Fix It Sticks and select bike shops.

CatEye Strada Smart

New this year is the CatEye Strada Smart which brings together a cycling computer and Bluetooth accessories (Speed/Cadence, Heartrate and Power) with your smartphone.  Works both in Mirror Mode and Sensor Direct Mode. 

Data summary from the CatEye Cycling app can be uploaded to Strava, CatEye Atlas and Training Peaks.  App works with iPhone 4S (IOS 6.1) or later and Android devices with Android 4.4/Bluetooth 4.0.  Available in Strada Smart and Strada Smart Package from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

CamelBak Podium Bottles

The CamelBak Podium line of water bottles has been a favorite of cyclists because of their innovative design and high flow spill-proof Jet Valve.  They come in a variety of models that include the Podium, Podium Chill and Podium Ice in sizes from 21 to 25 oz. depending on the model.  Chill and Ice models are designed to keep your water cold longer in warm temperatures or slow down freezing in the wintertime.  Available from Camelbak, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Banjo Brother Frame Pack

The Banjo Brother Frame Pack is a favorite of commuters and gravel grinders alike for its convenient 2-pocket storage with easy access.  It comes in two sizes, small (70 cubic inches) and medium (102 cubic inches) that fit sloping frames down to 15".  Keeps snacks, spare tubes, keys and wallet close at hand and the medium pack is large enough to accommodate a 2L (70 oz) hydration bladder.  Available from Banjo Brothers, Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

SKS Airchecker

The SKS Airchecker is handy little digital tire pressure gauge that works with both Presta and Shrader valves.  It has a swivel head to make seeing the large digital readout easy at any angle and switches from Bar to PSI with the touch of a button.  Accurate readouts for low pressure fatbike tires to high pressure road bike tires with measurements up to 144 psi are what makes this a versatile multi-bike gauge.  The compact size fits in a seat bag without taking up too much space leaving room for other things like a tube and tire levers.  Available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Finish Line Super Bike Wash

Cleaning your bike and keeping it looking new is easy with Finish Line Super Bike Wash.  This safe for all surfaces, non-toxic and biodegradable product can be used two ways to remove dirt and grime with little or no scrubbing.  Spray it on and wipe it off or hose it off allowing you to clean your bike inside or outside.  Available in 1 Liter ready to use spray bottle, 1 Liter refill and 16 oz. concentrate at Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Quad Lock Bike Kit

The Quad Lock Bike Kit is a lightweight and strong bike mount system for your smarthphone.  For those that like to use their smarthphone with ride tracking apps or for navigation, this kit is the way to go.  The Bike Mount attaches easily to the stem or bar with rubber O-rings or zip ties for a secure fit.  The dual action locking mechanism allows quick attachment or removal of the phone from the bike.  Quad Lock has models for Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5C, iPhone 5/5S, and iPhone 6.  Available from Quad Lock and Amazon.com.

DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks

For the cold weather cyclist, any one of the DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks would be a great addition to their cycling apparel.  Made from American Merino Wool, Nylon and Lycra, this sock line is warm, comfortable, doesn't bunch up and is not itchy.  They come in heights from 1" to knee high in men's and women's sizes.  Available from DeFeet, fine bike shops and Amazon.com.
Scosche boomBOTTLE

The Scosche boomBOTTLE is a rugged IPX4 Splashproof/Weatherproof Bluetooth connectivity speaker designed to fit in a water bottle cage or cupholder.  Skip the earbuds and enjoy listening to podcasts or music while riding and still be able to hear approaching vehicles or passing cyclists.  With a 10 hour battery life and rich loud sound this speaker will keep you entertained on those long rides.  Available in a variety of colors from Scosche, Amazon.com and other online retailers.

Park Tool Chain Checker

Chain stretch can cause sloppy shifting, uneven drivetrain wear and premature cassette replacement.  Know your chain's percentage of stretch and replace it before it has a chance to do damage with the Park Tool CC-2 Chain Checker.  It is 10 and 11 speed compatible and has readings from 0 to 1 % of stretch.  For most chains replacement should be done at or before .75% of stretch.  This simple tool is easy to use and will take the guess work out of when to replace that worn chain.  Available from Penn Cycle and other fine bike shops.

Gift Cards From Your Local Bike Shop


Don't know what to get the cyclist on your list?  Gift cards from your local bike shop are always appreciated.  They can be used for tune-ups and overhauls, component and part upgrades, accessories, apparel, unexpected repairs (crash) or toward a new bike purchase.  Gift cards are available in a variety of denominations and are always the perfect size.


My Favorite Fatbike Accessories-Part Three

Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt".  Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides.  Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.


A good lighting set up is a must if you plan on doing any riding after dark.  I run a two-light combination that works great for singletrack in the dark early evenings that Winter brings.  The Light & Motion Stella 500 is a very compact headlight that has the versatility of being mounted on handlebars or a helmet.  This is my choice for a helmet-mounted light because of its small size and focused beam that follows my line of sight as I ride through switchbacks and turns.  It has a separate 2 cell Li-ion battery pack that is easily tucked into a jersey or jacket pocket when helmet-mounted or can be attached to a bike frame for handlebar use.  Long run times are another reason I like this light.  With a battery life of 2½ to 6 hours, depending on the setting used (Hi or Med), I don't have to worry about it running out in the middle of a ride.

For a bar mounted light, I like the the Light & Motion Taz.  I have the Taz 1000 which is no longer available from the manufacturer but two newer models come in 1200 and 1500 lumens.  The Taz is a compact light that is bright as a motorcycle headlamp with run times of 1½ to 6 hours (High to Low).  The light beam is powered by three high power LED's configured to throw a pattern out ahead and down in front of  the the rider giving a good field of view in very dark conditions.  It is MicroUSB rechargeable, water-resistant and durable. 

Bottle Cage Coozie

Winter cycling requires a rider to hydrate just as much as during warm weather rides, so slushy or frozen water bottles can be a nuisance.  To help extend the amount of time it takes to freeze up a water bottle, Gup Gum Gear handcrafts the newly redesigned Bottle Cage Coozie right here in the Twin Cites.  This product is fashioned to fit around standard water bottle cages and uses 3/8" thick closed cell foam for insulation to significantly extend the time it takes water to freeze.  Each Coozie has a heavyweight nylon exterior and medium weight nylon interior with holes for bottle boss bolts.  These coozies will let you ride longer without your water bottles freezing up as quickly.

Hydrapack SoftFlask

Another way to stay hydrated in freezing conditions without the hassle of frozen water bottles is by using the Hydrapack SoftFlask. SoftFlasks work great when stored in the back pockets of a cycling jacket.  The warmth of the perspiration vapor that passes through the jacket seems to be enough to keep them from freezing.  I have biked for hours in all types of below freezing temperatures with filled SoftFlasks in my jacket pockets and have not had any of them begin to freeze up.  In extreme cold, I have had the water in the bite valve freeze, but that was remedied by biting the valve crushing the ice thus restoring water flow.

One of my favorite features of the SoftFlask is the way they collapse as you drink from them.  As they are emptied they crumple up into a very small size that is easily stored in a pocket or bag.

ColdAvenger Pro Softshell

I first heard of ColdAvenger from my friend and ColdAvenger Athlete Bonnie Moebeck, who raved about its performance in the coldest of weather.  She really put it to the test at one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races, the Arrowhead 135, that takes place each year in the "Icebox of the Nation", International Falls, MN.  Bonnie tells me she couldn't compete having asthma without the protection that the ColdAvenger mask provides for her lungs.

I use the Pro Softshell Half Face Mask.  This model allows me to choose the proper head covering for the temperature.  I will wear a beanie or skullcap for just the right amount of insulation to stay warm without overheating.  The ColdAvenger warms inhaled air making it much easier to breathe, especially during rigorous activity.  Its soft fleece material that covers the face, neck and ears is very well insulating and cuts the wind entirely.  The protection it provides has made it possible for me to ride longer in the extreme cold conditions that Minnesota is known for.


My Favorite Fatbike Accessories-Part Two

Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt".  Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides.  Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.


Gaiters are a great way to keep legs from the knees down warm, dry and boots from taking on snow.  I like the Crocodile Gaiter from Outdoor Research because they are extremely durable, waterproof and breathable.  Breathability allows transfer of vapor keeping my tights and baselayer dry underneath, which is key on long rides in the cold.  Blocking the wind and providing a little extra thermal protection are added bonuses to keeping the snow from working its way into my boots.  For deeper snow and frigid temperatures gaiters make a great addition to your fatbike riding apparel.

Tire Gauge

Keeping your tires properly inflated is key to speed, control and traction.  Colder temperatures can cause tire pressure to decrease as much as 2% for every 10° F drop, so checking your tires to ensure proper inflation should be done before each ride.  A change of as little as a pound or two of psi can make a huge difference to how a fatbike tire reacts to the conditions you are riding.

I carry a G.H. Meiser Low Pressure Presta Valve Dial Gauge to give me accurate readings at very low pressures that regular gauges might not be able read.  This model reads tire pressure from 0 to 30 psi and is not affected by cold temperatures unlike some digital tire gauges.  This gauge is an excellent choice for fatbikers looking to dial in that that precise inflation for the conditions, whether they be soft/hard pack snow, "mash potatoes" or fresh powder.  With a little experimentation you will learn to set tire pressures exactly to your liking.

Frame Pump

I carry a small frame pump with me on rides to modify tire pressure giving me the ability to adjust for changing trail conditions.  It gives me the freedom to let some air out of my tires to gain traction with the ability to increase tire pressure if the riding conditions require me to do so.  Adjusting tire pressure up or down by a pound or two can make a big difference.  I like the Bontrager Air Support HP Pro (short model) for its compact size and the flexible hidden hose that threads onto Presta valves making inflation easy.


When temperatures get above freezing riding a fatbike can get a little messy.  Mud, sand, slush and puddles can get a rider all wet.  To combat this and keep riding dry and comfortable, Portland Design Works has made Dave's Mud Shovels.  These lightweight, quick-install fenders are wide enough to keep water, mud and muck from being flung all over your legs and backside from those big tires.

The front and rear models install quickly and accommodate a wide variety of tube diameters.  They are reasonably priced, lightweight and really do keep you dry, even when splashing through big puddles.  If you're an all-weather rider like me, you'll come to rely on Dave's Mud Shovels for those messier rides.

I will continue with more of my Faviorite Fatbike Accessories in one more upcoming post.
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