2019 Minnesota Gravel Events

Rural Minnesota is home to quite a few long standing gravel road races and with the growing popularity of the sport, rides to introduce those new to gravel are beginning to pop up, too.  With varying terrain, minimum maintenance roads, elevation changes, great rural scenery and unpredictable weather in the Spring and Fall, these events are sure to be fun and challenging.  Almost all of them are free, but unsupported requiring the participants to be their own repair and support crew.

This season's calendar will include all types of  gravel races and rides from around the state.  Some of these have registration cutoff dates, have a rider cap, or more information and registration details that are yet to be announced.  Below is a list of all of the gravel events in Minnesota that I'm aware of in chronological order.  I will continue to update and add events to this post as they become available.  If you are a race or event organizer and would like your event listed here and on my 2019 Minnesota Bike Tours, Rides, Races & Events Schedule, please send me an e-mail.

Saturday Gravel 1/5 : it’s a new year, let’s start it off right-January 5, 2019
Caribou Coffee
Lakeville, MN
35-45 miles

February 43 mi Fat Bike Gravel - Hugo, MN #1-February 16, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
43 miles

March 43 mi Fat Bike Gravel - Hugo, MN #2-March 2, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
43 miles

Gravel Training Ride 62 mi - Hugo to Marine #3-March 9, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
62 miles

Gravel Training Ride 62 mi - Hugo to Marine #4-March 23, 2019
Dunn Brothers Coffee
Hugo, MN
62 miles

Ragnarök 105-April 6, 2019
Mississippi National Golf Course
Red Wing, MN
Postcard Registration open November 23-December 31, 2018
Facebook Event Page

Dickie Scramble-April 27, 2019
JJ's Tailgators Bar & Grill
Elgin, MN
80+ miles

Earth Day Gravel Grinder!-April 27, 2019
Imminent Brewing
Northfield, MN

Miesville FiftySix-April 28, 2019
Jack Ruhr Stadium
Miesville, MN
56 miles
Online Registration opens February 24, 2019

Alexander 380-May 17-18, 2019
Northfield, MN
380 miles
Facebook Page

Malanzo 50/Almanzo 100/Royal 162-May 18, 2019
Northfield, MN
162, 100, 50 miles
Facebook Page

RiotGrrravel-May 18, 2019
Hope Lutheran Church
Hastings, MN
33, 21, 10 miles

Le Grand Du Nord-May 25, 2019
Grand Marais, MN
120, 66, 20 miles
500 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration

Extreme North Dakota Terrifically Intense Country Klassic (END-TICK)-June 1, 2019
Solem Lutheran Church
Hawley, MN
200, 100, 50 miles

Keep Gravel Weird Volume I-June 1, 2019
Masonic Park
Spring Valley, MN

Westside Dirty Benjamin-June 8, 2019
Chaska, MN
Mileage TBD
Facebook Page

Luce Line Loops Bike Ride-June 9, 2019
Crow River Winery
Hutchinson, MN
75k gravel grinder, 50, 25, 12 miles

Believe In Me Bike Ride-June 15, 2019
Eagles Fraternal Organization
Rochester, MN
102, 82, 60, 34, 14, 6 miles
43 mile gravel

Heck Epic-July 20-21, 2019
Two Harbors, MN
225 miles
100 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Registration opens February 2, 2019

Tour de SAVE-July 27, 2019
Sechler Park Pavilion
Northfield, MN
50, 25, 7 miles, 46 mile gravel
Facebook Event Page
Online Registration

Day Across Minnesota (DAMN)-August 3, 2019
Gary, SD to Hager City, WI
240 miles
300 racer cap
Facebook Page
Online Registration (Opens December 21, 2018)

The Rugged Growler!!-August 11, 2019
Gate City Events
Canton, SD

La Crosse Area Bicycle Festival-August 30-September 2, 2019
La Crosse, WI

Chasing the Wind - Gravel Bike Steeplechase Fundraiser-September 7, 2019
Jackson, MN
Solo 100, Team 100, 15 miles
Online Registration

Utepils Oktoberfest Fall Fondo-September 14, 2019
Utepils Brewing
Minneapolis, MN
100, 70, 40, 20 miles

Hero Gravel Classic-September 22, 2019
Gasthaus Bavarian Hunter
Stillwater, MN

Heck of the North-September 28, 2019
Two Harbors, MN
100, 55, 20 miles
500 Rider Cap
Facebook Page
Registration opens March 2, 2019

Gravel Grovel 2019!-September 29, 2019
Jack Ruhr Field
Miesville, MN
85 miles


Weekly Winter Fatbike Group Rides

Now that winter is into full swing there are a bunch of weekly fatbike group rides you can get in on.  Some are put on by bike shops, others are organized by clubs or individuals.  Below is a list with links to more details about these rides.


Tonka Cycle & Ski Ladies Ride hosts their weekly Emily's Fat Bike Group Ride on Sundays this winter from the shop in Minnetonka.

Join me for a group fat bike ride starting and ending at Tonka Cycle & Ski every Sunday this winter! This ride is for anyone who experiences barriers to cycling due to their gender. Any questions, please message the page! Or contact Emily at the shop: 952-938-8336.

This is a casual, no-drop ride. All fitness levels welcome! Rental bikes available for $25 (normally $50).

Image Credit: Pete Hager

Sundays are when the Mankato Fat Bikers set out for their weekly ride at various locations around Mankato including Mount Kato, the Red Jacket Trail, river bottoms and Kiwanis Park.  Visit the Mankato Fatbikers Facebook page for information on upcoming rides.

Image Credit: Now Bikes

Now Bikes hosts a weekly group ride and fatbike demo at 9:00 am on Sunday mornings.  The Sunday Morning Fat Bike Demo & Group Ride is no-drop for riders of all levels.  Locations change weekly and are based on trail conditions.  Check the Now Bikes Facebook page on Fridays and Saturdays for updates on the Sunday ride locations.

Come out and ride with riders of all levels, meet new friends and pick up winter riding tips on our Sunday Morning Fat Bike Demo & Group Ride!

- Free demo bikes to ride!  Must call ahead or stop by the Arden Hills location (651-490-7709) to schedule for us to bring a bike for you to ride.  

- Demo bikes from the following brands may be available: Salsa, Felt, Otso in all sizes XS, SM, MD, LG, XL

- Ride generally goes from 9am-11am 

- No drop ride, all rider levels are welcome!

- Location for ride is determined the Friday or Saturday before the ride and is based on trail conditions*

- *First Sunday of Nov., Dec., Jan., the ride will leave from NOW Bikes Arden Hills location, this ride will showcase the fun of riding fat bikes on road and paved trails!  We will also provide refreshments for after the ride.


Steven Orwig host a weekly Monday night mountain bike ride at various trails throughout the south metro of the Twin Cities.  Ride event pages are posted in the South Metro Group Rides Facebook group, which is a closed group so you will need to request to join to see these events and others for this area.

Big Ole Bike Club in Alexandria is now into their Fat Tire Monday Rides schedule for the winter.  Ride locations and ride leaders change weekly and start at 6:30 pm.  To get a text reminder: Text @snowbiker to 81010

COGGS hosts their weekly Monday Night Fat Bike Ride at various locations around Duluth on Monday nights at 6:00pm through March 25th.  Visit the Facebook event page for updates on locations.

Explore Duluth on the weekly COGGS hosted fat bike ride. Every Monday evening, long as the riding is good, 6pm. Location varies each week. Watch for FB post updates for details. All abilities welcome on this fun, casual winter ride. Hosted by Rudy O'Brien. See you there. 


Image Credit: CROCT

With winter is in full effect, Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails (CROCT) members host Fat Tuesdays out of Northfield.  They have some great trails there and are a good group of friendly riders.  Updates for these rides can be found on the Cannon River Offroad Cycling and Trails - CROCT Facebook page.

COGGS and Duluth Women MTBers host the weekly Tuesday Night Ladies Ride at various locations around Duluth through March 26th.  Visit the Facebook event page for updates on locations.

Join us for our weekly Tuesday Night Ladies Ride! All abilities welcome as we explore the trail systems across Duluth. Location varies each week. See FB posts for location updates. Ready to ride Tuesdays 5:30pm. Charge up your lights and join us! We have a blast.


Penn Cycle hosts a winter weekly fatbike group ride called the Wednesday Night Fat Bike Ride Series from their Minnetonka store. Rides leave the shop at 6:00 pm and operate at a moderate, no-drop pace.

Feeling adventurous? Join us for our weekly fat bike rides where we’ll explore a new and exciting route each week. The rides will be led by a knowledgeable guide and will operate at a moderate, no-drop pace. All riders will enjoy 15% off parts, accessories, and winter apparel one hour before and after the ride. Fat bikes, lights, and helmets are required. We can’t wait to ride with you!


Rich and Ambrose from Now Bikes will be hosting their weekly ride, Rich & Ambrose Rollin' Fatties throughout the winter on Thursday nights at 6:00 pm.  Once more snow arrives, future rides will include several mountain bike trails.

The event you've all been waiting for. Join Rich and Ambrose every Thursday night this winter (weather permitting) for a social fat bike ride. We'll depart the Now Bikes St. Paul shop (75 Snelling Ave, St Paul, MN) at 6PM sharp. Future rides will also include other MTB locations (such as Carver or Theo) once the snow accumulates. Check this page for updates.

Fat bikes available for demo. Demo lights from Light & Motion available at the shop as well. Must give 48 hour request - Contact Rich at the shop: 651-644-2354.

Notes: Please dress warm and bring lights. There will likely be a beer stop halfway through the ride on the trail (not mandatory). This is also an inclusive no-drop ride, however we will be traveling off-road and require SOME mountain bike experience. The ride will be from 6-8ish. Refreshments at the shop post-ride.

The Thursday Night Group Ride is held every Thursday that the trail is open at Elm Creek Singletrack in Champlin.  Rides start at 6:30pm and are no-drop.  Details for each week's ride can be found on their Facebook page.

Are you looking for a group of fun mountain bikers to have fun with on mountain bikes? Then you've come to the right place! The Thursday Night Group ride at Elm Creek Singletrack is a no-drop mountain bike group ride for any rider from beginner to expert.

We ride every Thursday that the trail is open, starting at about 6:30pm. However, if the air temp is below 5º or the windchill is below 0º, we won't have an official ride.

Michael's Cycles hosts their weekly Thursday Night Fat Bike Ride out of their Prior Lakes store at 6:00 pm. Some ride locations include Murphy-Hanrehan and Cleary Lake Regional Park.  Check the Michael's Cycles-Prior Lake Facebook page for updates and weekly ride details.  Rentals available from the shop.


Faturday is a weekly fatbike ride that has taken place for years on Saturday mornings at the Minnesota River Bottoms.  Start location changes week to week as well as routes and distances depending on the weather and trail conditions.  Rides are usually posted a few days before on the MORC Group Rides Forum and in the MN Fatbike Group Rides Facebook group with that week's details.

This ride stops to regroup frequently along the trail making it a good one for riders of all abilities. Most rides usually last two to three hours and sometimes conclude for a beer or two afterward at Bald Man Brewing in Eagan.

Michael's Cycles hosts their weekly Sat Morn Bikes and Coffee rides from their shop in Chaska.  They open the doors to the shop at 7:30am with donuts and coffee and roll out at 8:00am sharp.  Depending on trail conditions and the weather rides include both paved/aggregate and singletrack. Visit the Michael's Cycles-Chaska Facebook page for details on upcoming rides.

Downtown Cycles in Northfield hosts a bi-weekly Saturday group ride that includes fatbike or gravel rides dependent on the weather and trail conditions. These six Downtown Bicycles Winter Ride Series rides start January 12th and continue through March 23rd from the shop.

Join us on the second and fourth Saturdays during winter months to get out and ride with your buddies!  We will enjoy some great Fat Bike rides if we have snow OR we will find some fun gravel rides.  Meet in front of our shop at 1pm!

Occasional Rides

One Ten Cycles will be hosting Fat Bike Rides/Chili Feeds are Back! for two dates so far this winter. These rides will be on January 13th and February 10th and both start from the Sibley Historic Site in Mendota.

Join us for a casual, social ride, followed by chili, snacks, and coffee in the OneTen Cycles warming hut! Don't have a fat bike, OneTen has rentals you can pick up on Saturday. Meet at the River Bottoms trail head behind the Sibley House. See you there!

Otso Cycles will be hosting another Shakopee Brewhall Social Ride coming up on January 12th from the Shakopee Brewhall.

For all you fat bikers out there we will be starting the ride at the brew hall and heading to Chaska and if time allows Carver. The current plan will be to ride all snow and single track. Come join us for a great ride and some awesome beer after.


If weekly fatbike racing is your thing then check out the FAT Wednesday Fat Bike Races starting January 9th and going through February 27th.  Visit the Fat Wednesday Fat Bike Races Facebook page for updates.

We have 8 events with a crit style format. 30min and 60min options with a different course each week. Bonfire, Food, Beer, Swag, Fun, Friends, and much more!! 

Event day registration starts at 6pm and events start at 7pm. Event takes place at Keller Park off Hwy 36 and Hwy 61. Registration is in the clubhouse across the street along with the awards and raffle each night after the events.

Entry fee on day of event is $20 or sign up for all 8 events for the price of 6 ($120).

Starting Thursdays on February 14th and running through March 14th at Lord Fletcher's Old Lake Lodge is Freewheel Bike's Fat Thursday Cyclocrits.  This 40-minute crit-style race "features land laps that also run across the bay, with the option to launch or roll off Lord Fletcher's docks."  Registration is at 6pm and racing starts at 6:30pm.

FAT THURSDAY CYCLOCRITS ARE BACK!!! The fastest, thigh burning-est, big smiling-est, most ridiculously fun weeknight race series has returned. 

Every Thursday evening from February 14th (that's right, we love this so much we're kicking off on Valentine's Day!) to March 14th, line up with 30 of your soon-to-be-closest friends and speed past your Netflix- and Hulu-addicted pals.

There's no better way to ramp up for spring than rubbing elbows and coughing up a little icy phlegm. And nothing's more satisfying than crossing the finish line with a frozen perma-grin that lasts till Friday night.

All proceeds from this event series will benefit Deep Woods Trail Groomers!


Field Tested Cycling Gifts-Part 2

When it comes to cycling gear and accessories I'm always looking for something new that is functional and improves my ride.  I have field tested a lot of products over the years and found items that worked great and others that didn't.  This part-two post will highlight some products that met or exceeded my expectations and would make great gifts for the cyclist (or yourself) on your holiday shopping list.

Yeti Rambler with Chug Cap

I've been using the 18 oz. Yeti Rambler as my go-to winter water bottle for a couple of seasons now.  Its double-wall vacuum insulated design keeps my water from freezing up in subzero temperatures and ice cold for hours during the heat of the summer.  Yeti introduced the Chug Cap accessory for the Rambler which makes it even easier to take a swig out on the trail.

The 18 oz. Rambler fits perfectly in any standard water bottle cage making it a great choice for cyclists.  The 18 oz. Rambler sells for $29.99 and Chug Cap for $9.99 and both are available from Yeti, outdoor and sporting goods retailers.

Ass Savers

Ass Savers are lightweight portable fenders that attach to saddle rails without the use of any tools.  The Flip-Tip attachment system keeps it locked on securely and fits just about any standard rail saddle and even works with a saddle bag in place.  Its simple design is meant to do one thing, and that is to keep your butt dry for comfort on cold wet rides.

I purchased the Ass Saver Regular to use on my road bike for the wet fall riding season and it got its first real world test at this year's wet and snowy Filthy 50 gravel race.  While it wasn't long enough to keep some of the water and gravel slop off my back, it did its job well keeping my butt dry.  It's compact enough where if there's a chance of rain during a ride, I will store it in my frame bag and install it in seconds if needed.  The Ass Saver Regular fits tire widths between 25-35mm and is available from Zeitbike and Amazon for $11.95.

Bontrager Storage Bottle

The Bontrager Storage Bottle is a great way to carry tools and a flat kit stored in any standard water bottle cage.  It's always on my bike so I have everything I need in the event of a flat or mechanical problem.  It has a screw top lid for easy opening and padded inside to keep your things from noisily bouncing around.

For its small size it can hold a lot.  I keep my multi-tool, tire levers, chainbreaker, chain lube and CO2 cartridges with inflator stored in it.  When switching bikes, I grab the Storage Bottle from one and transfer it to the other and I'm ready to roll with all my essentials.  The Bontrager Storage Bottle is available from Trek and Trek Authorized Dealers for $6.99.

Banjo Brothers Large Top Tube Pack

The Banjo Brothers Large Top Tube Bag is a staple cockpit accessory on my road bike whether I'm heading out for a few hours on the gravel or a short commute to work.  This "gas-tank" style top tube bag has 65 cubic inches of storage with a rigid bottom and padded sides to hold its shape.  It's big enough to hold my wallet, keys and cell phone or a multi-tool and flat kit.  The zipper is easy to open and close with one hand while riding making this bag a great place to store gels and snacks for refueling during a ride.  Available from Banjo Brothers and local bike shops for $19.99.


Field Tested Cycling Gifts-Part 1

When it comes to cycling gear and accessories I'm always looking for something new that is functional and improves my ride.  I have field tested a lot of products over the years and found items that worked great and others that didn't.  In this two part post I will highlight some products that met or exceeded my expectations and would make great gifts for the cyclist (or yourself) on your holiday shopping list.


The Upstand is not your normal kickstand.  It's made from carbon fiber, is lightweight, compact and fully detachable.  It has a strong neodymium axial magnet that keeps it attached to the metal tab that installs on a quick release skewer or thru axle.  I recommend purchasing it with the Upclip so it can be attached to the water bottle boss bolts on the bike's frame for storage when not in use.  With the Upstand you no longer have to lean your expensive bike up against something or lay it down risking scuffs and scratches.

The Upstand is available for bikes with standard 26"/700, 29" and 20" wheels with either thru axles or standard quick release skewers.  Available from The Upstanding Bicycle Company for $34.95.

Hot Sockee

The Hot Sockee is a product I came across at Interbike '17 where I bought a pair to try out because the first thing to get cold on close to or below freezing rides is my toes.  These 1.5mm thermal neoprene toe warmers slide on directly over socks to give that little bit of extra insulation to keep phalanges from getting cold.  I primarily use them in the Winter with a cold weather cycling boot but have also opted for them in the Fall and Spring with my cyclocross boots or mtb shoes.

The Hot Sockee buys me some extra time out on the road or trail to enjoy the ride and because I roll with clipless pedals year round, they provide one more layer of warmth from the cold conducted through the sole from metal cleats. Pair them with wool socks to wick away any moisture if feet get a little too warm.  Available from TraxFactory in sizes S/M, L and XL in a two pack for $27 or a four pack for $50.

G.H. Meiser Accu-Guage

For accurate tire pressure readings in any temperature, you can't beat the G.H. Meiser Presta Valve Dial Gauges.  These gauges have bronze bourdon tube precision movement that is not affected by temperature, altitude or humidity giving the most accurate reading possible.  These easy to read dial gauges come in a variety of psi readings for everyone from the low pressure winter fatbike rider to the high pressure roadie.

I have two of these gauges, one for my fatbike tires (0-30psi) and one for my gravel bike tires (0-60 psi).  Meiser gauges really let you dial in that perfect ride feel/traction and they are all I ever use when checking my tire pressures.  These gauges make a perfect gift for any cyclist whether they are an avid rider or just get out for a ride occasionally on the weekends.  Available from local bike shops and Amazon for around $15.

Bontrager Ion Pro RT/Flare RT

The picture above is a very common sight on my desk. I use these two lights on every ride whether it is to be seen by motorists on the road during the day or lighting up the trail while mountain biking at night.  The Bontrager Ion Pro RT and Flare RT definitely are my favorite, and I have a bunch of different lights.  Both units have nice battery life and are extremely bright.

Pair them with your Garmin GPS device using the Bontrager Connect IQ app to control them and see the remaining battery life.  The Ion Pro RT has five modes (1300LM-1.5hrs, 800LM-3hrs, 400LM-6hrs, night flash-26hrs, day flash 22hrs) for daytime and night riding.  The Flare RT has five modes (Flash: 90LM-6hrs, 45LM-12hrs, 5LM-15hrs Steady: 25LM-4.5hrs, 5LM-13.5hrs) and is daytime visible from up to 2km away.

Available from Trek and Trek Authorized Dealer bike shops as a pair for $154.99 or individually, $99.99 for the front light and $59.99 for the rear light.

Look for part two of this post soon with four more of my field tested gifts for the cyclist on your list (or yourself).


Alternative Winter Fatbike Riding Opportunities

Winter presents some new riding opportunities that only appear for a few months out of the year.  Some of these areas may only be available for a short while until the snow gets too deep to ride while others are an option all winter long.  A few of these include frozen bodies of water, so remember, "There is no such thing as "safe ice," and ice seldom freezes uniformly. The terrain can greatly change with icy conditions, and the ice may not be uniform. Please use extreme caution."

Image Credit: Fat-Bike.com

For more detailed information on ice thickness guidelines, traveling on ice and what to do if you fall in visit the Minnesota DNR Ice Safety page.


Backwaters are areas adjacent to a river or creek that have little or no current.  These places are usually formed due to flooding, obstructions such as beaver dams or may be a channel off the main branch of a river or creek.  Once temperatures have remained below freezing for a long enough period to form a good rideable base of ice, backwaters are great places to explore but you will need studded tires until a layer of packable snow comes along.

Some backwaters may be in the woods creating a flat obstacle-scattered experience that can be anything from easy to more technical.  Water levels in some of these areas may have dropped after the ice has formed creating ice shelves that are broken, uneven and off-camber riding surfaces where studded tires will come in handy.   Backwater areas are only accessible by bike during the frozen winter months and give riders a unique view of this outdoor environment and the wildlife that inhabit them.


Beaches alongside creeks, rivers and lakes are fun places to ride during the cold months.  They can be made up of sand, silt, rocks and contain natural obstacles such as logs and boulders to maneuver over or around.  During below freezing temperatures the surface of sandy beaches firms up like concrete but use caution  as freeze-thaw cycles can create an icy surface.  The slippery surface is easily tackled with lower tire pressure and/or the use of studded tires.

Image Credit: Josh Peterson

During winters when lake and river water levels are lower they present extra riding opportunities as more of the beach will be exposed.  Keep in mind that your beach riding adventure may come to an end when reaching private property unless you can avoid it by riding out onto the ice.  With thousands of miles of shoreline here in Minnesota you're bound to find numerous areas to ride.


Small shallow creeks with slow moving water freeze up quickly in the early part of the winter making them a good choice for riding.  In the event that you do go through the ice, wet feet is the most likely outcome.  Studded tires will be needed until there is enough snowpack to go without them.

When riding creeks be aware of changing conditions which can include broken or collapsed ice shelves, glare ice and open water.  Get some riding in before the snow gets too deep making them impassable unless they get regular fatbike traffic packing down a trail.

Deer Trails

Deer are creatures of habit and use the same routes year after year creating natural trails in the woods and adjacent fields.  Most of the time these trails will follow the easiest route in the terrain and are often rideable on a fatbike.  You never know where they'll to take you, it could be a water source, feeding area or an impassible thicket that they use for cover.

Be ready to hike-a-bike, dodge low hanging branches and hop over logs when following deer trails.  The deer will pack them down after every snowfall so they are pretty easy to find in the winter.  Keep a keen eye on your surroundings and chances are you'll see that big buck or a couple of does doing their daily routines.


It's easy for us cyclist to tell when the ice is thick enough to support the weight of a person and their bike, just look for when and where the ice fishermen are out on the lake.  Studs are necessary early on in the season until there is enough snowpack.  When the snow gets deeper out on the lakes ice roads from fishermen and snowmobile tracks pack down the snow making it easier and faster to ride along.

Being out in the open on a lake can be windy and when it's really cold outside this can shorten your ride in a hurry if not wearing the right gear.  An outer windproof shell worn with a baselayer is a great combination for making sure those freezing windchills don't cut right through you.  Goggles or sunglasses protect your eyes from the wind and make it easier to see on sunny days.  Balaclavas, thermal cycling caps and neck gaiters are another great way to stay warm in this potentially windy environment.

Safety is key when fatbiking on lakes so let someone know where you will be riding and when you plan to return.  Carry a pair of ice picks to pull yourself out of the freezing water in the event the ice gives way.  An easy way to find current reports of lake ice thickness during the early winter is to use the Ice Report App.  With this app you'll find information about lake ice thicknesses during the ice fishing season from fishermen from all over the Northern US.  Ice Report is free and available for both Android and IOS.


Water levels are higher in some of these areas with all the rain we've had this fall.  Because of this, some swampy areas will have exposed ice in among the vegetation making for some great riding, but you will need studded tires until there is some snowpack.  Stay away from moving water sections that fill these areas as the ice tends to thin and you may break through.

Swamps can be many acres in size providing a whole new playground for fatbikes that is only available for a short time each year.  The ride may be flat but will show you a side of nature you don't see up close that often.  Not only is the scenery pretty unique, I've also seen plenty of wildlife including coyotes, rabbits and eagles while riding these areas.


After all the forest floor vegetation dies off from a hard frost and below freezing temperatures, some wooded areas are great for bushwhacking on a fatbike.  Look for patches of forest that have little or no underbrush and not too many fallen trees.  These areas are great for skill building exercises like riding rough terrain, hopping logs, keeping balance and finding your line to continue moving.  Hike-a-bike, ducking branches and weaving around brush are common so don't plan on covering a lot of ground too quickly.

Keep an eye out for wildlife as you quietly roll along.  I've noticed more deer before they've noticed me riding in areas where people don't tend to travel.  During hunting season, be aware of  where hunting is allowed and your safest bet is to avoid these areas all together.  Respect private property and do not trespass.

Once you get to know an area of woods try riding it at night for a whole different experience.

IMBA's Best Practices for Riding 
on Natural Terrain 
and in the Backcountry

In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn't mean you should. Be aware and be prepared. 

  •  Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not. 
  • Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there. 
  •  Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores. 
  • Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers. 
  • Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route. 
  •  Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned. 
  • Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return. 
  •  Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long.
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