With all the scary stuff—bumps, roots, and stumps—hidden under a blanket of snow, fat biking—aka snow biking—provides a great opportunity to introduce children to mountain biking. Here’s how families can enjoy the latest winter craze.
Hire a Guide
Front Range Ride Guides curates fat biking tours for families of all ages and ability levels, and provides bikes, helmets, backpacks, and snacks. After reviewing technique and safety tips, your guide will get you and your family on a trail—usually for about three hours. “The first tour might be stop-and-go,” says Nick Markiewicz, senior guide at Front Range Ride Guides. “We’ll pause to make snow angels and drink hot cocoa. The most important thing is that the kids have fun.”
Visit a Nordic Center
Fat biking is “conditions limited,” meaning there is a short window of opportunity for good riding. If it’s too warm, trails will be slushy, and if there’s more than six inches of fresh, heavy snow, it’s difficult to ride. Choose a trail that sees regular usage, like the ones at most Nordic centers. The Vail Golf & Nordic Clubhouse—open daily, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.—has 13 kilometers of beginner-friendly fat bike trails. In Breckenridge, at the Gold Run Nordic Center, fat bikers are welcome on all snowshoe trails. Families with older kids (age 16 and up) can try a Full Moon Fat Bike Tour, offered select Fridays and Saturdays through March. Both Nordic centers offer bike rentals and helmets, and you’ll have to purchase a trail pass.
Ride the Front Range
If there’s fresh powder and cold temperatures, you’ll only need a few inches of snow to fat bike on the Front Range. After renting a mountain bike with oversize tires and wide rims—from Mojo Wheels in Denver or Pikes Peak Bike Tours in Colorado Springs—hop on one of the family-friendly trails at Meyer Ranch Park in Morrison, Flying J Ranch Park in Conifer, or Staunton State Park in Pine. The lower loops at Elk Meadows and Three Sisters Park in Evergreen are also prime spots for beginners.
Book a Fat Bike Vacation
If one day of fat biking isn’t enough, Devil’s Thumb Ranch in Tabernash has an impressive winter trail system welcoming fat bikers, plus a spa, acclaimed restaurants, and plush accommodations. Start with an hour-long guided tour across the ranch. Once you’ve got the hang of fat biking, rent bikes at the activity center, and explore the resort’s fat bike routes at your own pace. At YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch in Winter Park, overnight guests and day visitors have access to 40 kilometers of groomed bike trails. Fat bike rentals are available at the on-site Nordic center.
Keep In Mind…
- Warm kids are happy kids.
- Dress in moisture-wicking layers. Add on a coat, snow pants, gloves, and a hat that’ll fit under your helmet.
- Obey the law.
- Bikers always yield to skiers and snowshoe users, and with bike-on-bike traffic, the uphill rider has right-of-way. Also, stay off classic cross-country ski (XC) tracks unless otherwise noted.
- Wheels spin.
- Riding a bike over snow is similar to driving on snow. Use fluid motions, and be prepared for your bike to slip.