Fat Biking in the Mountains

Fat biking is quickly becoming a must-try winter adventure sport. The bikes have wide tires (hence the name fat bikes) and sturdy mountain bike frames making them perfect for riding on snow. Some riders use the bikes for winter commuting, but they are also perfect for trips out to the mountains.

Because fat biking is so new, none of the provincial or federal parks have specific plans addressing the sport. In general, respect codes of conduct and general uses of the area you are in. Most summer trails can be used for fat biking with basic up keep and maintenance, but watch the snow conditions. Usability depends on snow depth and snow type. 

Here are 9 trails to try:

Canmore Nordic Centre, Canmore

The Centre has groomed cross-country ski trails that are suitable for anyone with a general level of fitness to fat bike. It's also well known for its single-track mountain bike trails during the summer, which can be used for fat biking depending on the conditions. They might need to be packed down first. Single-track trails are steep with a higher degree of difficulty. 

Goat Creek Trail, Canmore and Banff

This trail runs between Canmore and Banff, which makes it good for out and back rides. The third of the trail closest to Canmore is easily rideable while the middle third may present some challenges and the need for hike and biking.

Highline Trail, Canmore

This popular Canmore trail is used for snowshoeing and walking during the winter. As a result the snow gets packed down making it good for fat biking. Getting to the top can be a challenge, but once riders get there they are rewarded with great views and a nice descent.

Lake Minnewanka/Cascade Trails, Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park

This trail running up to Lake Minnewanka is popular with cross-country skiers and can be used by fat bikers. It is a linear groomed trail that is rated easy. 

Lowline Trail, Canmore

Running below and parallel to the Highline Trail is the Lowline Trail in Canmore. Since the Lowline is lower down there is no need for a climb to get to the good part. This trail is ideal for those looking for a more leisurely ride. 

Moraine Lake Road, Lake Louise and Moraine Lake

During the winter Moraine Lake Road is closed to traffic to create a safe playground for cross-country skiers. The slope is not very steep making this a nice easy trail and the perfect place to test out fat bikes. The road ends at a viewpoint overlooking Moraine Lake where you can either turn around or continue along a non-groomed trail. 

Redwood Berm Trail, Redwood Meadows

Recreational pathways along the Elbow River in Redwood Meadows provide for a leisurely bike ride in a scenic setting. 

Rundle Riverside, Canmore to Banff

Accessible from the Banff Trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre, this trail is a technical single-track mountain biking trail during the summer that plays host to back-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. For fat bikers, this is a more demanding trail. It follows the Bow River ending at the Banff Springs Golf Course. 

West Bragg Creek, Bragg Creek

West Bragg Creek is a network of trails developed by the Bragg Creek Trail Association and Alberta Parks. These trails are hilly so climbing and descending should be expected. 

3 places to rent a fat bike

BikeBike in Calgary loans out fat bikes for free on a one-day trail basis. (403-457-2453,1501a 17 Avenue S.W., bikebike.ca)

Rebound Cycle in Canmore rents out fat bikes. Rates begin at $50 per day. (1-866-312-1866; 902 Main Street, Canmore; reboundcycle.com)

Smack Cycles/Cycle 22 in Bragg Creek has fat bikes available for rent. Contact for rates. (403-949-4317, smackcycles.com)

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