As more cyclists are extending their riding season with fatbikes, ski resorts are taking notice of the sport. Ski resort access for fatbikes first started a couple of years ago at the Gran Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyoming. Gran Targhee Resort was the first in the nation "to embrace and endorse winter fat bikes on the Nordic trail system". As ski resorts see this opportunity for extra revenue during the Winter months, many have opened up their Nordic trails to fatbikes. But the most exciting trend beginning to happen now is fatbike downhill with lift access.
Last March the Mankato Area Mountain Bikers in coordination with Nicollet Bike Shop and Mount Kato held the first ever Nicollet Bike Fat Bike Gravity Fest. With over 100 fatbikers in attendance that day, the event was a huge success and promises to be even bigger and better than last year with an exclusive chair lift for bikers only, more distance and different trails. Fat Bike Gravity Fest 2016 takes place on Sunday, March 6th from 12:00 to 4:00pm with open practice/ride time on the fatbike specific trails and hills from 12pm to 3:30pm and race against the clock in the downhill time trial (Super D format) that starts at 3:30pm. This is your once-a-year chance to ride Mount Kato so don't miss it. For more information see my post Fat Bike Gravity Fest Returns To Mount Kato.
|Image Credit: Spirit Mountain|
Spirit Mountain in Duluth announced this week that it will start lift-served, downhill, Winter fatbiking on Sundays from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The fun kicks off Sunday, January 17th during the 2nd Annual Ski Hut Weekend.
|Image Credit: Spirit Mountain|
Tickets can be purchased in advance online for the Sunday of your choice through February 28th. Tickets are limited per day and to reserve your spot it is recommended you purchase them online.
Details from Spirit Mountain:
- Minimum tire width 3.5″
- Helmet Required
- Brakes for each wheel are required
- A seat/seat post inspection is required prior to allowing bike on chair lift
- All tickets, parking, inspections happen out of our Grand Avenue Chalet located at 8551 Grand Ave Duluth, MN. Please note: due to winter snow tubing operations, mountain bike parking and access to trails is not available from our Adventure Park.
- Must abide by Bike Responsibility Code & Trail Code
- Terrain open will vary during the season based upon snow pack, conditions, etc. Visit out snow report for updates.
- Planned open trails are Timber Cruiser, Juggler Joe as well as Mountain Bike trails of Candy Land, Happy Camper & Lower Calculated Risk
Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado just last week announced that it "will allow winter biking before and after ski resort operating hours". This would allow fatbikers access to the mountain with a similar policy already in place for uphill skiers. With more ski resorts beginning to allow access to fatbikers, I hope the resorts here in Minnesota will see the value in adopting their own policy allowing fatbikes. Two Minnesota ski resorts have already granted access to fatbikes on their Nordic trails.
Two Winters ago Giants Ridge in Biwabik was one of the first in Minnesota to allow fatbikers to ride on their groomed Nordic trails. This Winter they are opening 60km of Nordic trail access to fatbikes. A proper trail day pass or season pass is required. Fatbike rentals are also available at the rental shop.
|Image Credit: Detroit Mountain Rec. Area|
New this year as part of the Detroit Lakes Polar Fest, Detroit Mountain will be hosting the SNOway But Round Fat Bike Race on February 7th. "The SNOway But Round Fat Bike Race is Detroit Mountain's first winter fat bake race. A specially designed 5 mile course will wind it's way around the base area and through our Nordic ski and XC flow trails. Choose from one or two laps."
Fatbikes are not a fad that is going away and as more ski resorts offer access to them it is my hope that other resorts will also join in. Please be sure to always follow IMBA's Fat Bike Best Practices to ensure a good relationship with the landowners granting access as these practices will help open more riding opportunities in the future.