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While Northern Michigan trails may be covered with snow, you can still enjoy your favorite summer pastime on your ski vacation. Jump on a fat bike and set out on an adventure during your next winter trip to Northern Michigan.

Unlike skis, snowshoes, and snowmobiles, fat biking in Northern Michigan gives you the flexibility to explore a diverse mix of roads, trails, and terrain all in one outing. Moreover, this non-traditional mode of winter transportation allows you to experience Northern Michigan in an entirely different way!

Follow this guide to learn how you can get rolling with a fat bike during Northern Michigan’s winter months.

What You Need

Fat-Tire Bike Rental

First things first, you need a fat bike before you can start your adventure. With tires that are fatter and nubbier than those on a traditional mountain bike, fat bikes allow for a comfortable — and very stable — ride on packed snow and variable terrain. Boyne Mountains Adventure Center offers rentals at the where you can also ride groomed trails, conditions permitting. Boyne Highlands offers rentals at the Boyne Highlands Cross Country Center, where you can also ride groomed trails, conditions permitting

Appropriate Attire

The easiest way to dress for a winter fat biking adventure is by putting on what you would wear to go skiing or play in the snow. Breathable layers are key. You don’t want to underdress and freeze. And, you also need to remember that you are going to heat up as soon as you start pedaling.

Make sure that your pants have a tapered leg. You don’t want baggy ski pants getting stuck in your gears. If baggy pants are all you have you can roll up your pant leg or wear gaiters. If it’s a nice day, you can just wear warm tights.

Warm winter boots and gloves are also key to ensure your extremities don’t get too chilly.

Head, Face and Eye Protection

In cold conditions, a ski helmet and ski goggles will be effective in protecting your head and eyes. A Buff or neck warmer will also come in handy. If you are going in the middle of a warm winter day, a bike helmet and sunglasses may suffice. When riding on a sunny day, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your face, under your chin, and on your neck. The light reflecting off the snow is intense.

Hydration and Snacks

You will be riding your fat bike at high elevation when in Northern Michigan, making it crucial to stay well hydrated. However, your water bottle can freeze if you put it in a water bottle cage. Use an insulated bottle if you have one or keep your bottle in your backpack.

Also, pack some snacks or energy bars to ensure you don’t “bonk” or totally exhaust yourself part way through your ride.

Backpack

If you layered correctly, there’s a good chance you will be taking clothes off and putting them back on during your ride. Bring a backpack to store them while you ride, and it can’t hurt to carry a dry base-layer to change into. Plus, this is a good place to keep your water bottle, snacks and anything else you might want to bring with you.

Northern Michigan Fat Bike Trails

Once you have your bike and are properly dressed and prepared for an adventure, there are several places you can ride. Keep in mind that all these trails depend on the snow conditions and that some of them might melt out in the spring. That doesn’t mean you can’t still ride them, but you should expect variable conditions before December and after February.

Final Thoughts

You now have all the information you need to go fat biking in Northern Michigan. Mix it up and try connecting some of these recommended trails. Maybe ride Independence pass in the morning and the Northern Michigan Fat Bike Loop in the afternoon. No matter how you decide to play it, have fun and don’t forget to wear your helmet. 

When you’re ready to book your next trip to Northern Michigan, browse our vast selection of centrally located vacation rentals that can serve as a basecamp for all your adventures. If you need more information about vacation rentals, please contact our reservation specialists to get recommendations. 

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