Bend has become the epicenter for fat biking (or snow biking), a quickly growing snowsport. Here are three places to try it out this winter.
Fat biking is a quickly growing sport in Bend, with more trails to ride each winter. Fat bikes, which are basically mountain bikes with extra-wide tires, are stable and fun for riding on sand and snow. Local companies also offer fat biking tours in winter, but you can also rent your own bike to ride on trails around Bend.
Even with the below-average snowfall at the lower elevations this winter, people are still getting out on the trails, said Bend Trails partner Robert Rekward. “You can still ride fat bike, but it’s condition dependent,” said Rekward. “The good rides for me have been the day after if snowed. All the trails are really good the morning after a snow.”
A couple tips: Always check snow conditions before you go, especially considering this year’s low snowpack. You want to ride on packed snow, and the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA) asks that bikers stay off trails when they get muddy because you can damage the trails. Stay seated on the bike, and don’t be afraid of sliding around on the snow. It might take some time to get comfortable riding on the snow. Most trails require that your tires are at least 3.8” wide to ride on the trails. Fat bikes are allowed on groomed snowmobile trails, but are not allowed on Nordic ski trails.
Along Century Drive, Wanoga Sno-Park has designated fat biking trails that are groomed and maintained by the Central Oregon Trail Alliance. There are two loops that you can choose from. One is three miles long, and the other is a little over five miles long. The singletrack loops connect at the trailhead, so you can also combine them for an eight-mile ride. Rekward cautions that the trails can be hit-or-miss until the they care groomed.
Parking: Snowmobile parking lot at the Wanoga Sno-Park. Sno-Park permit required.
When: After December 1 when there is more than 20 inches of snow on the ground.
Dutchman Flat Sno-Park
Close to Bachelor, Dutchman Flat Sno-Park is a good basecamp for fat biking, as there are lots of trails to choose from. You can ride on the groomed snowmobile trails here (note: snowmobiles have the right of way on these trails). A popular route for fat bikes is the three-mile loop that leads to Todd Lake.
Parking: Dutchman Flat Sno-Park. Sno-Park permit required. The lot fills up fast, so get there early in the day.
When: Beginning November 1, but check snow conditions before you go.
Phil’s Trail Network
If you’re familiar with the area for mountain biking, Phil’s Trail Network is a good place to go for fat biking when there’s snow. Rekward cautions that the trails can get muddy if you don’t get there early after a snowfall. He recommends the middle trails: Storm King, lower loops and Skyliner’s.
Parking: There’s usually plenty of parking available at the Phil’s Trailhead parking lot.
When: Check snow conditions before you go.