Gone are the days when snow signaled the end of biking season. With the growing popularity of “fat bikes” our area has embraced winter riding by grooming many of our best local mountain bike trails for winter riding. For those not in the know, a fat bike is a bike with 4″+ tires designed for riding on snow. With these amazing machines, outdoor riding is possible, and enjoyable, year-round!

In the Petoskey Area, there are several options to hit the fat tire trail. Check out these groomed routes this winter:

Boyne Mountain: 5K of totally awesome riding brought to you by the folks who know all about adventure. No bike? They’ll rent you one and throw in the helmet for safety. And if you really just want to get a feel for the ride, try out their electric fat tire bikes! Trails here are wider than some, so it’s a really good place for beginners. The overall vibe at Boyne Mountain will call you back again and again.

Avalanche Mountain Preserve: Located in the waterfront community of Boyne City, there are multiple routes at Avalanche with primarily intermediate trails for avid riders and not recommended for beginners. Each trail leads to a spectacular view of Lake Charlevoix from atop what longtime locals still affectionately call, “Barn Mountain.” An added bonus this year? New grooming equipment that will work better in deeper snow.

Boyne School Forest Trails: Kudos go out to many for their hard work on continuous expansions and maintenance here. This official Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association trail is rapidly growing in popularity. A 3.5-mile beginner trail is perfect for those just getting their pedals wet and the additional 6.5 miles of intermediate pathways will keep a lot of people happy. This trail is groomed frequently – generally at night – and you can even get live grooming updates.

Offield Family Viewlands: This former golf course was recently acquired by the Little Traverse Conservancy and is expected to be an amazing winter destination for outdoor recreation. Current plans are to groom 5 miles of fat bike specific trails with leg-burning climbs and thrilling descents. You can be sure that the view alone is worth the visit. Additionally, LTC is planning to groom multi-use winter trails, making this a destination for snowshoers, XC skiers, and backcountry skiers.

Boyne Highlands: New within the last couple of years, the trails at Boyne Highlands offer a gorgeous place to stretch your legs, get your blood pumping and enjoy winter.

Like most anything, there’s a right and a wrong way to fat tire bike. Take a look at these do’s and don’ts and ask riders and groomers for tips. And if you want to give riding a try before you invest in a fat tire bike, Latitude 45 Bike Rentals has a fleet to choose from this winter and Boyne Mountain can set you up, too.  

With Covid still lurking in enclosed places, getting out this winter on a fat tire bike seems like a fantastic idea. What a great way to socially distance and stay in shape all while having a blast! If you’re already into winter biking, the Petoskey Area sure gives you some great options to choose from. Think you’re too old to up your riding game? This is the stuff that will help keep you young – and maybe even help keep you connected with your kids, grands and friends!

While I’m personally hoping to give the fat tire biking a try this winter, I will freely admit I’ve never done it so I looked to the professionals for insight. Special thanks to Joe Graham – LTC Special Projects Staff, Latitude 45 Bicycles and Fitness employee, mountain biker and overall good guy and also to Mike Cortright, owner North Country Cycle Sport in Boyne City. And yes, Mike’s a rider and a good guy, too. 🙂

Hope to see you this winter on the trail . . . book your room and remember, biking is not just for warm weather.

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About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has “been there – seen that” when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.