If two wheels is how you roll, keep calm and ride on this winter, thanks to fat bikes.
Fat bikes are an off-road hybrid of the mountain bike design with oversized tires and a wider handlebar that allows you to ride on soft, snowy, sandy or muddy terrain. This relatively new, versatile design is perfect for avid cyclists in Ontario as they allow you to crunch up the trails right through the winter. So, don’t pack your helmet away for the season because fat biking is gaining traction and is turning cycling into a year-round sport.
From easy to challenging, guided and self-guided, here are some spots to give fat biking a whirl.
GUIDED & ON-SITE EXCURSIONS
Image credit: LivOutdoors
Ride a network of groomed, single-track trails through pine and hardwood forest at Muskoka’s first maintained winter bike park. Guides are on hand to get you geared up and show you the basics of fat biking.
Horseshoe Resort, Barrie
Experience the beauty of the snow-covered Copeland Forest on an all-new adventure. Set out on a nine kilometre fat bike trail at Horseshoe Resort, suitable for beginner to avid. Bike rentals include a helmet; the trail pass is separate and ride guides are available to tailor the trip based on your skill level.
Image credit: Deerhurst Resort
Deerhurst Resort, Huntsville
Overlooking Peninsula Lake, this year-round resort knows how to ‘winter’. Book your fat bike rental and ride the trails from the resort or on the frozen lake. Join fellow fat bike enthusiasts for the second Muskoka Winter Mountain Bike Festival on Feb 2nd for an 11 kilometre race, a kids race, bonfire, entertainment, food and drink. Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville also rent out fat-wheeled bikes in the winter.
Evergreen BrickWorks with Sweet Pete’s, Toronto
Explore the bike trails around the Evergreen Brick Works, one of Toronto’s most eclectic attractions located in the forested Don Valley. Rentals, gear, instruction and guided group rides provided by Sweet Pete’s Bike Shop.
Ride Guides, Collingwood
Check out the guided fat bike excursions Ride Guides have put together for this season. ‘Sweet Ride’ is particularly inviting; a fat bike tour followed by a tea or coffee with one of Heavenly Café’s celebrated cinnamon buns in Collingwood. Go ahead, you’ll have earned that treat!
Image credit: Explorer’s Tread
Explorer’s Tread, Lions Head
Offering basic skill instruction, half-day outings or full-day adventures, these enthusiastic guides will cater a fat biking experience on the Bruce Peninsula that you’ll be bragging about for years.
Hardwood Ski and Bike, Oro Station
This facility is dedicated to high-adrenaline outdoor pursuits and boasts over 100 kilometres of multi-use trail systems. Fat bikes are available for rent all-day or half-day and permitted to ride on the cross-country ski trails on weekdays. Reserve in advance as this is becoming super popular. Check out the stay and play packages at Carriage Ridge Resort, conveniently located just a few minutes drive away.
Albion Hills Conservation Area, Caledon
Head just north of Toronto for some mixed terrain fat biking on the 6.5 kilometre Black Trail. Rentals are available at the chalet from Rocky Mountain. And if you’re looking for some R ’n R after your ride, the Millcroft Inn and Spa is only a few minutes away in Alton.
RENT & RIDE ADVENTURES
Photo credit: Explorer’s Edge
If you’re in the Parry Sound area, you’re in for a treat. Parry Sound Bikes is your go-to for an incredible day of fat bike thrills. They’ll rent you the equipment (bike, helmet and even gloves), and get you a day pass to ride the trails at the Georgian Nordic Outdoor Activity Centre. They’ll even arrange bike delivery and pick up. Georgian Nordic features smooth trails with open vistas and tight, winding single tracks through the forest, as well as a fully-staffed chalet to warm up.
There are several pretty epic places to fat bike in and around Thunder Bay. Centennial Park offers trails for all skill levels, a good place for beginners to start. The trails at Shuniah Mines snake around a now-defunct century old silver mine that delivers some gnarly topography, while the terrain at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park ranges from even to rugged. Pick up your rental at Rollin’ Thunder or Fresh Air Experiences. And if you’re feeling competitive, sign up for the Fat Bike Loppet that takes place on March 2, immediately after the Sleeping Giant Loppet, making good use of the well groomed 15 and 30-kilometre trails.
Explore the mixed-challenge, multi-skill level trails open for winter fat biking, as well as group rides and other cycling events at Fanshaw Conservation Area in London, Turkey Point on the shore of Lake Erie and at The Hydrocut, just west of Kitchener. Rent your fat wheels and gear up at Trek Bicycle Store in downtown London.
Further southwest, Wildwood Conservation Area in St. Marys is one of the region’s premier fat biking locations with well maintained winter trails. Bikes are available on site or check in with Totally Spoked in Stratford for rentals. The Pines is another top trail destination who host special events, including demo days with experienced cyclists on hand to guide new riders. Get a day pass from their site and your bike and gear from Pedal Power in Woodstock.
The rural portion of Kingston’s K&P Trail is a 15-kilometre stretch that runs along the old Kingston and Pembroke Railway line, climbs bluffs and escarpment, traverses wetlands and ravines, and passes farm fields and a historic mill. Potter’s Creek Conservation Area in Belleville is a great spot for beginners, while Macauley Mountain Conservation Area and the Millennium Trail are both popular destinations for fat biking in Prince Edward County. Following the former Canadian National Railway Line, the Cataraqui Trail stretches between Smith Falls and Strathcona with over 100 kilometres of multi-use trail including cycling. In the capital, follow the Ottawa River shoreline on the groomed multi-use Sir John A. Macdonald (SJAM) winter trail.
With over 60 maintained Ontario trail systems that invite fat biking, and great outfitters, guides and rental companies to steer you in the right direction, you’ll have no trouble finding amazing places to peddle up a new winter adventure.
Main Photo Credit: Explorer’s Edge