Front Range Fatbiking

Find our what you need to know to have fun on your bike in the snow

Fatbiking Etiquette

Get the guidelines and best practices for fatbiking etiquette, Front Range fatbiking trails, fatbiking gear and safety to join the fun.

Fatbikes yield

  • To cross-country skiers
  • To snowshoers
  • even when pedaling uphill

When off your bike

  • Walk as far off to the side of the trail as possible
  • Roll your bike in the middle of the trail

When to ride

  • After a snow if the trails are packed
  • If you are riding your bike at the proper psi and staying upright

When not to ride

  • If the trail is too soft or wet and you are leaving a deep rut or having trouble riding, which will create icy holes and bumps when the weather turns colder making fatbiking and skiing difficult and dangerous

Front Range Fatbiking Trails

Check out a compilation of crowd-sourced data from Front Range Fattys and NoCo Fattys. Rider maintained trails create more fatbiking opportunities!

Lyons

Fat Biking in Lyons is weather dependent. For snow riding these trails are usually only rideable after heavy snow and cold. Check with Redstone Cyclery for conditions.

TRAIL: HALL RANCH

Trailhead Location: Lyons

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Only rideable right after heavy snow and consistent cold. South facing elevations melt quickly. This is a rare fatbike opportunity!

 

TRAIL: PICTURE ROCK

Trailhead Location: Lyons

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Only rideable right after heavy snow and consistent cold. South facing elevations melt quickly. This is a rare fatbike opportunity!

Nederland

TRAIL: SOUTH SOURDOUGH TRAIL

Trailhead Location: Nederland

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Moderate foot/snowshoe/ski traffic. High wind area results in high drifts. Aggressive riding and high-float tires recommended.

Notes: Can get windy and snow can get deep.

 

TRAIL: MUD LAKE

Trailhead Location: Nederland

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: High foot traffic area all season. Expect well packed snow.

Notes: Shorter trail with connection options to Caribou Rd up to 505 to Rainbow Lakes Road.

 

TRAIL: WEST MAGNOLIA

Trailhead Location: Nederland

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Some well packed short sections of trail by neighborhood dog walkers but most trails do not see much winter use. The area is permitted to have winter grooming on the roads but a significant snowfall and lots of volunteer time is needed to make this happen. The clear-cut sections make the area prone to drifting leaving either bare earth or deep, unpacked snow. Best place to start is the Peak to Peak and Magnolia Rd trailhead and the trails north of Haul Rd.

Notes: Hit or miss, mostly miss. Best in mid-winter when it’s been a few weeks since a significant snowfall.

 

Brainard Lake

TRAILS: BRAINARD LAKE ROAD and LEFTHAND PARK RESERVIOIR ROAD

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Very well packed, a great first fatbike experience choice!

Notes: Lots of good riding to connect in this area as it is heavily trafficked.

 

TRAILS: WALDROP

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Heavy snow area. Needs heavy foot/snowshoe/ski traffic to get a good base. Best a few days after heavy snow. Snow can get very deep. Waldrop is usually one of the first and best packed singletrack trails.

Notes: Lots of good riding to connect in this area as it is heavily trafficked. Ride out to Brainard Lake as an out-and-back or make a loop with SSV/Sourdough or Snowshoe.

 

TRAILS: SNOWSHOE

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Heavy snow area. Needs heavy foot/snowshoe/ski traffic to get a good base. Best a few days after heavy snow. Snow can get very deep. Has less traffic than Waldrop and more open spaces prone to drifting, especially by the campground.

Notes: Trail has some rolling hills, some quite steep.

 

TRAILS: SOURDOUGH (SOUTH)

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area or Sourdough Trailhead (Rainbow Lakes Road 298)

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Heavy snow area. Needs heavy foot/snowshoe/ski traffic to get a good base. Best a few days after heavy snow. Snow can get very deep. Has less traffic than the core Brainard Lake trails. Also used by snowshoers and skiers and can get well packed, but may also be soft and loose, especially in the more open areas.

Notes: From the south trailhead, Sourdough climbs steadily for 3.5 miles and 1,300 feet of elevation gain. The next 2.5 miles to Brainard Lake are rolling downhill. Makes a great out-and-back from the south trailhead or a big shuttle ride all the way to Peaceful Valley. 

 

TRAILS: SOURDOUGH (NORTH)

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area (or Beaver Reservoir Road or Peaceful Valley)

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Heavy snow area. Needs heavy foot/snowshoe/ski traffic to get a good base. Best a few days after heavy snow. Snow can get very deep. From the Brainard trailhead it is usually well packed to the South St Vrain trail. Past that, it gets less traffic and conditions are more iffy. Can be ridden down to Beaver Reservoir Road or all the way to Peaceful Valley.

Notes: Awesome downhill to South St Vrail trail! Can be ridden down to Beaver Reservoir Road or all the way to Peaceful Valley. The total Sourdough trail is 13 miles, making it a great shuttle or a mega out-and-back ride. From Brainard Lake, the trail descends nearly 2,000 feet and climbs 600. The section between South St Vrain and Beaver Reservoir Road is the least traveled and the most open, trail is not always great in the winter.

 

TRAILS: SOUTH ST VRAIN

Trailhead Location: Brainard Lake Recreation Area (or Beaver Reservoir Road)

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Heavy snow area. Needs heavy foot/snowshoe/ski traffic to get a good base. Best a few days after heavy snow. Snow can get very deep. One of the lesser trafficked trails in Brainard Lake but is a smoking downhill when it’s good. After the “staircase section” the trail is a road for a bit and can get very drifty in windy conditions.

Notes: Awesome shuttle ride from Brainard Lake! Nearly all downhill from Sourdough, or work a little taking Waldrop to the lake, then catch South St Vrain. The section from the lake to Waldrop is lightly trafficked and may not be packed enough for bikes.

General Notes: Little Raven and the CMC Ski trail are closed to bikes November 15 – April 15

Peaceful Valley

TRAIL: BUCHANAN PASS

Trailhead Location: Peaceful Valley

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Very high traffic from the trailhead. First ½ mile or so stays very well packed. From the intersection of Middle Saint Vrain heading west is one of the first trails in the area to get packed in. Frequently rideable up to Timberline Falls. Beyond that can be hit or miss depending on traffic. Many fat bikers carry snowshoes to work on packing this area in so it can be looped with Coney Flats or Middle Saint Vrain.

Notes: Heavy moose activity.

 

TRAIL: NORTH SOURDOUGH TRAIL

Trailhead Location: Peaceful Valley

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Usually the 2nd trail from Peaceful Valley to get packed in. Usually requires 2-3 days after heavy snow to get packed in from foot/snowshoe/ski traffic. Once established it gets fast and fun. Later in the season after more traffic and deeper snow base, rideable trail may continue south of Beaver Res road (inconsistently).

Notes: Early in the season this trail is used to connect to Beaver Reservoir road up to Coney Flats and/or descend Cutoff Trail.

 

TRAIL: BEAVER RESERVOIR CUTOFF TRAIL

Trailhead Location: Peaceful Valley or Beaver Reservoir Road

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Usually the 3rd trail from Peaceful Valley to get packed in. Usually requires 2-3 days after heavy snow to get packed in from foot/snowshoe/ski traffic. 

Notes: Great little trail to make a 5 mile loop with Sourdough – normally ridden up Sourdough, up Beaver Reservoir Road and down Cutoff. Warning, Beaver Reservoir Road is exposed and often very windy.

 

TRAIL: CONEY FLATS

Trailhead Location: Near Beaver Reservoir | Ward

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Popular ski and snowshoe area due to easy access and relatively mild elevation gain. Can get very well packed later into the season and the base stays well established. Snowmobilers occasionally access this trail making for great fat biking!

Notes: If conditions allow makes for a long loop when connected with Buchanan Pass. Best to start at Peaceful Valley → North Sourdough → Beaver Res Road → Coney Flats → Descend down Buchanan Pass

 

TRAIL: MIDDLE SAINT VRAIN

Trailhead Location: Camp Dick (near Peaceful Valley)

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Snowmobilers occasionally access this trail making for great fat biking! Not very popular until snowmobiles pack it in. Can be very well packed.

Notes: If conditions allow makes for a long loop when connected with Buchanan Pass. Best to start at Peaceful Valley. Ride west towards Camp Dick. Descend down Buchanan Pass

Jamestown

TRAIL: CERAN ST. VRAIN

Trailhead Location: Jamestown

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Heavily trafficked and popular trail throughout the season. Expect well packed snow until hitting Miller Rock.

Estes Park

TRAIL: HERMIT PARK

Trailhead Location: Estes Park

Traffic/Trail Condition Expectations: Rideable by fat bike during light/moderate snow and only in the early season. Very light/minimal traffic. Best to ride after a few inches of snow. Mixed conditions possible (snow + dirt). Expect to break trail.

Notes: Hermit Park closes in the winter. Seasonal closure is weather dependent from around December through March. This is a fee area ($6 as of this writing).

Evergreen

TRAIL: ELK MEADOW OPEN SPACE

Trailhead Location: Evergreen

Traffic/Trail Conditions: High foot/snowshoe/ski traffic all season.

 

TRAIL: ALDERFER / THREE SISTERS / DEDISSE

Trailhead Location: Evergreen

Traffic/Trail Conditions: High foot/snowshoe/ski traffic all season.

Conifer

TRAIL: MEYERS RANCH

Trailhead Location: Conifer

Traffic/Trail Conditions: High foot/snowshoe/ski traffic all season.

 

TRAIL: STAUNTON STATE PARK

Trailhead Location: Conifer

Traffic/Trail Conditions: High foot/snowshoe/ski traffic all season.

Pine

TRAIL: STAUNTON STATE PARK

Trailhead Location: Pine

Traffic/Trail Conditions: High foot/snowshoe/ski traffic all season (especially closest to trail heads). Not consistent snow base. Best mid season.

 

TRAIL: BUFFALO CREEK

Trailhead Location: Pine

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Low traffic area and not consistently snow packed. This area is popular for fat bike riding year round. In the winter it will likely be mixed conditions (snow + dirt), but do not expect true snow packed trails. NOT rideable in heavy snow.

Notes: Not a true “fatbike” destination – although great riding and rideable in all but the heaviest of snow. 

Leadville

TRAIL: CMC TRAILS and MINERAL BELT LOOP

Trailhead Location: Leadville

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Consistently groomed. Check in with Cycles of Life for conditions. They groom approximately 3 times a week, so it’s good to check in to know when they’re good to go

Notes: Ride Mineral CW with a little pop off for some fun in the trees at CMC. The east side mining roads and Turquoise Lake are groomed too. Leadville is a must do. 20-40+ miles of groomers!

Breckenridge

TRAIL: Turks Trail, Sallie Barber Road, Carter Park

Trailhead Location: Breckenridge

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Groomed, heavily trafficked, and shuttles!

Notes: Around 20 miles of singletrack and shuttles available from town: Flumes, V3, Turks, Carter Park stuff etc. French Creek trails Wellington B & B trail to Turks Ex10u8.

Winter Park / Fraser

TRAIL: RENDEZVOUS

Trailhead Location: Winter Park

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Heavily trafficked all season long.

 

Laramie, WY

TRAIL: HAPPY JACK

Trailhead Location: Laramie, WY

Traffic/Trail Conditions: Groomed and heavily trafficked all season long. Rideable all season.

Notes: 12 miles of groomed single track. Well worth the drive!

Fatbiking Gear

Equipment

TIRES

  • SIZE – Are at least 3.8 inches wide, with 4.5+ inches recommended for Boulder County high country conditions
  • PSI – Are set at an appropriate psi – no more than 8 psi, some conditions may require 1-2 psi. 4-5 psi is a good place to start in BoCo
  • FLOTATION – Allow you to travel over snow without leaving a rut deeper than one inch on a packed trail.
  • TRACTION – Allow you to be able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line.

LOW PRESSURE TIRE GAUGE – Most standard bike pumps and compressors can’t accurately measure fatbike tire pressures. A manual 1-15 psi gauge is about $15 and a great addition to your pack.

FULLY RIGID BIKE OR HARDTAIL – Suspension is less important when fatbiking, especially if you’re riding on snow packed trails.

DROPPER POST – This will help you remount your bike and make descending and cornering that much more fun!

FRAME BAGS – These assist with carrying water, snacks, hot toddies, and more without the need for a backpack, which could make your back extra sweaty.

Equipment

WIDE TIRES – Tires should be at least 3.8 inches wide, with 4.5+ inches recommended for Boulder County high country conditions

LOW TIRE PRESSURE – Run your tires at less than 8 psi. Some conditions may require 1-2 psi. If you are slipping or sinking, keep airing down. If you still can’t stay on your bike, it’s time to turn around… or strap on your skis or snowshoes and carry on.

LOW PRESSURE TIRE GAUGE – Most standard bike pumps and compressors can’t accurately measure fatbike tire pressures. A manual 1-15 psi gauge is about $15 and a great addition to your pack.

FLOTATION – Make sure you can travel over snow without leaving a rut deeper than one inch on a packed trail.

TRACTION – Be able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line.

FULLY RIGID BIKE OR HARDTAIL – Suspension is less important when fatbiking, especially if you’re riding on snow packed trails.

DROPPER POST – This will help you remount your bike and make descending and cornering that much more fun!

FRAME BAGS – These assist with carrying water, snacks, hot toddies, and more without the need for a backpack, which could make your back extra sweaty.

Clothing

Clothing

PLENTY OF LAYERS – Wear (and bring) a base layer, warm wool or down layer, and breathable water resistant shell.

HEAD – Stay warm with a helmet, skull cap or hat, and neck gaiter. Sunglasses or goggles are also useful.

HANDS – Wear winter cycling gloves. For very cold temperatures, consider pogies (shells that fit over your grips, brakes, and levers that create a pocket of warmth), heated grips, or chemical hand warmers to go with your gloves.

LEGS – Consider winter breathable pants or cycling-specific tights.

FEET – Think about riding in winter boots – and know that gaiters  are key.

Safety

Be Aware and Be Prepared

Do not trespass

Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey all land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not.

Learn safe ice travel

Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers.

Understand changing conditions

New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, and rivers can start to melt. Know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route.

Be prepared

Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned.

Let people know

Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left, and when you expect to return.

Understand packed trails

Postholing – leaving footprints or heel divots or deep tire ruts on a packed multi-use trail is poor winter trail etiquette and can be downright dangerous for other users like nordic skiers. Sure, every time it snows all users are going to pack the fluff back into the trail. But if you find yourself in soft or warm conditions and you can’t stay on your bike – put on snowshoes or turn around and come back when conditions are better. That innocent churned up soft snow can freeze when temperatures drop and create icy holes and ruts that can hang on for weeks.

Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats

This may be especially important in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there.

Do not disturb wildlife

Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores.

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