Chris Chavie, MN Trail Navigator
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued a News Release, last Monday that details the expansion of fat bike riding opportunities throughout the state. These opportunities include 58 new miles open to fat biking 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 Brainerd.
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 fat bike trails. The Minnesota DNR has maps of these new fat bike-friendly trails available for download. These maps clearly detail fat bike/multi-use trails from snowshoe/ski/hiking only trails through the use of color to distinguish use (see each map’s legend).
In Northern Minnesota – The Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area (Crosby/Deerwood area) has 20 miles of groomed trails; Jay Cooke State Park (outside of Carlton) has added 5.4 miles of trails to be groomed; and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (above Two Harbors) will groom 8.7 miles of trails for fat bikes and ski skating.
Twin Cities Metro Area – Fat bike 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 (near Albert Lea) has added 6 miles of groomed trails.
Other opportunities – The MN DNR will allow winter fat biking 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 fat bikes 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday