Cook County was made for Winter Fat Tire Biking!

Biking isn’t just a warm weather pursuit anymore, and one of the fastest growing winter sports, fat tire biking, now has a prime presence in Cook County.  Fat biking has been an emerging winter sport in the Midwest for several years and is expected to continue to grow in popularity.

What is it?

Fat bikes are off-road bicycles with large, low pressure tires, designed for travel over snow or sandy soil. Besides being a new way to have fun outdoors, you can ride a fat bike just about anywhere – places you’ve never been on a bike before (think Cook County’s frozen lakes, ice-covered rivers, and snowy trails). 

Where can I ride?

In Cook County, fat bikes are allowed on the Northshore Mountains Ski Trail, which is part of the Norpine Trail System. The Norpine Trail System is 57km of machine groomed cross country ski trails between Cascade River and Ski Hill Road. Trails in this system that allow fat bikes include the Hall, Massey, Whitesides and Deertrack Loops and the Caribou Trail to Cascade River State Park trail. To access the trail open to fat bikes, look for the snowmobile trail parking lot just west of Cascade Lodge, on the north side of Highway 61.   

Winter fat biking is allowed on trails that are signed and identified on DNR maps as open to fat biking, such as:

  • State forest roads or trails that are identified as allowing bicycling, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.
  • State park and state recreation area trails designated for bicycling, including some non-motorized multi-use trails that may be shared with skiers, walkers, or snowshoers, unless they are groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.
  • State park roads where motor vehicles are allowed, except those posted as closed for biking.
  • State trails, except those groomed and tracked for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling only.

Where can’t I ride?

  • Most snowmobile trails, including the grant-in-aid (GIA) trail system. As a general rule for everyone’s safety, please avoid fat biking on any snowmobile trail.
  • Groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails that are not designated for use by fat tire bikes. 
  • Any trail that is not specifically identified as open for bicycling, including hiking or snowshoeing trails in state parks or state recreation areas.

Groomed snowmobile and ski trails may look appealing as you’re scouting areas to ride, but most of these trails are not open to other uses due to safety concerns and the fact their grooming costs are paid through user fees. Please be thoughtful and courteous as you seek out places to enjoy winter fat biking.

What should I know about riding safety?

  • There are inherent risks to fat biking—ride at your own risk.
  • Test the fit and function of your equipment before each ride.
  • Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear. Wear bright colored clothing so others can see you.
  • Obey all rules and signs, and ride open trails only.
  • Ride with a friend to promote fun and safety.
  • Always yield the trail and let others know you are coming. Be aware of your surroundings and other trail users.
  • Ride to your ability and be in control at all times, remembering that the faster you ride, the greater your risks, so always keep your speed at a level that will allow full control.
  • Do not ride wet or soft trails. When temperatures are above freezing, please stay off the trail. Warm weather can damage the trails. 
  • Parents should use extreme caution when allowing children to ride.

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