Our Favorite Fat Biking Spots

Written by Joseph Bonacci, on November 26, 2023

It happens every year (around Utah anyway), winter hits and lots of folks opt to hang up the bike and swap the focus to traditional winter activities. But luckily for cold climate cyclists we have fat bikes! We’re big fans of fat bikes here at Contender and have been riding them since they hit the scene as they can turn that cold weather “curse” into an absolute blessing. Fat bikes are a great way to get out and ride even in the dead of winter, and you can have just as much fun as you would on your regular bikes. Our staff has all the info of the bikes themselves and more importantly, where to ride them. Once you’ve acquired your fat bike, knowing where to go can be a hurdle, so we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite fat bike locales to help you “snow your roll” this winter.

Round Valley - Park City, Utah

*This trail map provided by https://mountaintrails.org/

Beginner to Intermediate difficulty trail with dogs allowed but must be leashed at the trailheads. 

Already familiar to many avid mountain bikers, the Round Valley trail system in Park City, Utah also grooms a nordic ski track all winter long, so winter trail accessibility is just as easy as it is in the summer. The amount of nordic grooming done at Round Valley results in a wide variety of trails you can ride on your fat bike. Staying on the groomed trails, you can get a slightly faster roll and be able to focus on distance, while still getting a solid workout.

On the other hand, you are welcome to venture off the groomed nordic track onto any of Round Valley's singletrack trails. Most of the singletrack is even machine packed as well! While the trails are less traveled through the winter, you'll experience the fun of being all by yourself, largely blazing your own way. Sticking to the single track is encouraged on softer snow days, as Round Valley wants to avoid leaving ruts in the groomed track. Another component of good fat bike etiquette is sticking to one side of the groomed trail, rather than riding in the middle.   

Round Valley is our top choice for days when there is a lot of snow, or some fresh snow coming down as it is lower in elevation than some of the area's other trails. Boasting the greatest variety of terrain as well as the largest number of trails to ride, it's great for fat bike riders of all skill levels and abilities. Whether you're looking to really push yourself, or just looking for a nice winter spin, Round Valley has something for everyone. 

Bonneville Shoreline - Salt Lake City, Utah

Trail map of Bonneville Shoreline*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Beginner to Expert difficulty with dogs required on leash.

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail or BST, is a trail system that spans the length of Salt Lake City area's Wasatch Front. Many readers will have ridden at least some part of the BST system on a mountain bike, whether up near the city of Farmington, behind the University of Utah hospital, or down near Draper city. Primarily known as a summer go-to for mountain bikers, hikers and runners, winter sees the BST transform into a top-notch playground for fat bikes.

Most all familiar mountain bike trails are still rideable in the winter and due to the high foot traffic on the BST, the trails pack down quickly, allowing for easier rolling on a fat bike. You can cruise the main Bonneville Shoreline, or bump up the difficulty a bit and incorporate the technical Dry Creek Trail or the 19th Ave Trail. 

With a lower elevation and a convenient location for much of the Salt Lake Valley, the Bonneville Shoreline Trail has a lot going for it as a fat bike option. Many of us can sneak in a post-work ride without having to do most of it in the dark. Plus, some of the gnarlier "in-season" trails, (like the Boundary Trail near the Red Butte Gardens) smooth out with a covering of snow and are actually easier to ride on a fat bike. With trails for everyone, it's a great place to fat bike all winter long with family, fat bike friends, trail dogs, or on your own. 

Millcreek Canyon - Salt Lake CIty, Utah

*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Beginner to Expert difficulty with dogs allowed every day, but must be leashed on EVEN-Numbered days.

Millcreek Canyon begins in the foothills of Salt Lake City's east bench, and sits between Big Cottonwood and Emigration canyon. About five miles up the canyon road sits the winter gate, which closes the remainder of the canyon to traffic beginning November 1st. Above the winter gate, the remaining 4.8 or so miles of the canyon's road is groomed for nordic skiing and touring and provides great terrain for fat biking.  

Another fat biking option within Millcreek Canyon is the Pipeline Trail, perched above the main road along the canyon's north side. The Pipeline Trail begins at the Rattlesnake Gulch trailhead located just a few minutes from the mouth of the canyon, and runs roughly seven miles up the canyon to Elbow Fork. From there you can cross the road to the Elbow Fork/Big Water connector single-track trail, or take the groomed main road roughly 3.5 miles up to the top.  

The Pipeline Trail is great for fat biking, as it starts below where the road grooming begins, so you can head up the foot-packed singletrack and enjoy a nice ride up or down. Millcreek Canyon is best ridden on cold days, and it's best to be done with your ride before dark, as once the sun sets the canyon gets especially cold. You may need to wait a few days to ride after big snow storms, as the Pipeline Trail will become well covered, but the steep start at Rattlesnake Gulch makes it hard to get going through deep snow. Millcreek Canyon is a great place to ride throughout the winter and is a close drive for anyone living in the Salt Lake Valley. One thing to note is the $5 fee per car to access the canyon that is paid upon exit. Annual use passes are also available to purchase for $50.  

East Canyon SR65 - Salt Lake City, Utah

*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Beginner to Intermediate difficulty with dogs NOT allowed due to watershed restrictions.

The East Canyon road, or SR65 is a great place to take your fat bike. Beginning at a winter gate just east of the summit of Salt Lake's iconic Emigration Canyon, the East Canyon road is groomed to the Big Mountain summit throughout the winter. The road is also often traveled by snowmobiles, leaving a consistent hardpack that makes a great surface for fat biking.

Similar to Millcreek Canyon, the East Canyon/SR65 road is mostly an out-and-back, but you can get some variety in terrain. The Mormon Pioneer trail, a single-track running the length of the canyon, is a great way to get down from the summit, the first switchback on the main East Canyon road, or the Affleck Park trailhead. As the single-track is not well traveled in the winter, it's best downhill and often you'll end up blazing your own trail.

The wide East Canyon/SR65 road is a great place to take your family or new fat bikers, as it is low traveled in the winter and you shouldn’t have to worry about lots of users. During or right after a big storm, it's not the best option, as it usually takes a few days to get fully packed down. The road holds snow throughout the winter, so if you live in the Salt Lake Valley and there isn’t snow close by, SR65 is usually a safe bet and it's only about half the distance to Park City. Make sure to park in the fenced-off parking lot if you check out SR65, as the city is known to ticket cars parked out on the road. 

Road to Wos - Summit Park, Utah

*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Intermediate difficulty with dogs required to be on leash. 

A local favorite and early-season fat biking spot, the Road To Wos trail starts at the top of Summit Park, located just west of Park City and off of Interstate 80. The Road To Wos sees peak conditions early in the year, after the area has seen its first couple of snow storms. Summit Park's higher elevation means that as winter gets further along, the trail gets buried in snow and becomes largely impassable. Before too much snow falls however, it's probably the area's most fun place to take your fat bike.

The Road To Wos is a 4.1 mile single-track loop with 650 ft of elevation gain, offering fun flow through a scenic wooded area. You'll stay mostly in the trees, so dress warmer than you might on a sunnier fat bike outing. The loop's relatively short distance and mild elevation gain make it a great place to get one, or a few laps in, but it's probably not the ideal choice if you're looking for distance. Round Valley, or one of the canyon options listed above are a better choice if you're looking to cover more ground. One of the many perks of the Road To Wos is that it's a great loop for getting your "fat bike legs" back, as you get comfortable again hitting single track on fat tires. It's a great place to start the season!

Alpine Loop - American Fork, Utah

*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Beginner to Expert difficulty with no restrictions on dogs.

Located due east of American Fork in Utah County, the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway is world renowned for its stunning summer and fall scenery, but it's also another local favorite for fat biking throughout the entire winter. 

The Alpine Loop area offers the most diverse selection of fat bike trails during the winter, as there is riding on both the American Fork and Sundance side of the mountain. The Alpine Loop features a mixture of groomed trails, sled-packed single-track, and untraveled single-track. Between the American Fork and Sundance sides, you'll find trails for all abilities and skill levels. The Alpine Loop itself is groomed from the end of the plowed road at Pine Hollow to both Cascade Springs and the Sundance resort. Easily accessible from the American Fork side of the mountain, the Timpooneke Campground also features a network of groomed trails for fat biking. This entire area will provide you with some of the best views Utah fat biking has to offer, as any of the rides are in the shadow of beautiful Mount Timpanogos. The Alpine Loop area is a great place to get lost in the beauty of the wilderness, take your family, and truly enjoy a day in the mountains. With no ski resort traffic on the American Fork side, the area stays relatively uncrowded, as all the traffic is for trail use only. With no real limit on how long or short your ride needs to be, the Alpine Loop is an excellent weekend destination.

Corner Canyon - Draper, Utah

*Trail map provided by www.trailforks.com

Beginner to Expert difficulty with dogs restricted in some areas. Check the individual trailhead rules before you go.

Corner Canyon is located just south of Salt Lake City and much like the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, the Corner Canyon trail system remains open for Fat Biking throughout the winter. Popular for mountain biking throughout the spring, summer and fall, the trails the locals know and love feature easy winter access by parking at the Draper Cycle Park or at the Potato Hill Trailhead. The same trail directions are enforced throughout the year, so make sure you are properly climbing and descending on the designated trails.

The road that climbs up into Corner Canyon gets quickly packed down with lots of foot traffic, so while there are no groomed areas it is easy to find smooth places to roll. Once you get onto the single track trails, it will be a bit hit or miss on what is packed or not, so waiting 1-2 days after new snow is recommended if you don’t want to deal with trailblazing.

Given the "city level" elevation and exposure, the Corner Canyon trails are best for fat biking in the dead of winter when everything is frozen and the snow is the driest. Corner Canyon is best avoided during winter's shoulder season, as wet snow can make for sloppy and muddy riding.

Corner Canyon and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail are your best bet for family fat bike outings, as they book-end the Salt Lake Valley and are both close to the most amenities.

Something important to note: do not ride any of the Suncrest downhill trails, like Levitate and Vertigo on your fat bike. The trail builders did not design or intend these trails for any riding outside of dry mountain bike conditions, and they will ticket rule breakers. 

Whether you are looking for a short, quick ride or a long, rugged fat bike adventure, there are many local areas to check out on your fat bike! If you are looking for more info on fat biking, or need help picking out a fat bike, we're always happy to help you in the shop or online, any time of the year! 


3 comments

  • Soldier Hollow does not have Fat Bike trails this year. They do have 3-4 evening races planned; check their site for dates (1 has passed, the next is tomorrow Night?) They are considering adding trails back next season. No snow shoeing on the ski track but the best snow shoeing is off track anyway! More of a workout for cycling…
    Bonanza Flats is no longer groomed this year but if the temps are cold enough the riding on the snow packed roads are pretty cool. Up there last Thursday but kinda soft; even the snowmobile tracks because of the temps.
    Going to check out the Alpine Loop tomorrow as I had never heard about that area for the Fatty.
    Ogden Nordic is world class for that groomed trail, very worth the drive!

    Martin Pahl on

  • Hey Mike, I would avoid Soldier Hollow. They officially only allow Nordic Skiers and Snowshoes on the trail. I also know that their is a Biathlon World Cup Event there this year, so it is likely that there will always be officials on the trails, and they will hit you with a fine if you violate trail rules.

    Joseph - Contender Bicycles on

  • I have snowshoed Soldier Hollow in the winter and seen fat bikes on the groomed trails. Haven’t gotten out on my fat bike there yet, but it looks like a fun area to ride! Supposedly Bonanza Flats up past Guardsman Pass (if you can get there in winter) is another place for winter fat biking.

    Mike on

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