- What’s new? A trail! We are happy to announce the DNR approved a new multi- use trail ideal for fatbiking. A partnership was formed with members representing the Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association (IMBA Chapter), DNR, North American Vasa, Vasa Ski Club, TART and others from the skiing and biking community. Made up of skiers and cyclists, the ten-member Winter Trail Task Force met throughout the summer to address the winter use issues and develop a plan with a long-term goal of providing high quality winter skiing and biking opportunities. The group proposed to use a network of existing trails including portions of the Vasa singletrack to create a new trail. The plan was approved DNR in October. Learn more about the group’s efforts and plan in the Winter Trail Task Force Report.
- Is this a new trail for TART? No, this is a DNR trail just like the Vasa Pathway is a DNR trail. The Northern Michigan Mountain Bike Association (NMMBA) with supporting partners are responsible for trail development, fundraising and grooming. Construction of the new trail was led by NMMBA and performed by fatbiker and skier volunteers who worked countless hours preparing the trail for its inaugural season.
- Where is the new fatbike trail? The new multi-use trail is located off of Supply Road. Make sure you have your Recreation Passport for the trailhead. The trail incorporates a portion of the existing official Vasa singletrack, converted unofficial singletrack and construction of new trail. Total trail distance will be 15k (9.3 miles). A small portion of the trail will incorporate a section of Reily’s Loop and Perch Lake Road in the winter months.
- How is grooming the new multi-use trail funded? The trail is funded through grooming badge donors that indicated use on the Winter Sports Singletrack. Don’t forget to get a badge and support winter recreation in northern Michigan.
- Who will be groom the new trail? NMMBA will be in charge of grooming the 15k of the Winter Sports Singletrack and TART Trails will continue groom the 40k on the Vasa Pathway and portions of the Leelanau Trail.
- Does this mean fatbikers won’t be able to ride on the Vasa Pathway? The Vasa Pathway is a multi-use trail open to all non-motorized users. The DNR is not considering banning fatbikes from the Vasa. However, the new trail will be ideal for fatbikes to ride on and will provide them with the best experience.
- Is it safe to have skiers and bikers on the same trail? Last year no accidents were reported between skiers and cyclists. Just like hikers and mountain bikers sharing trails in the summer, the way trails are used is important to providing a safe and enjoyable trail experience. Trail etiquette signage will be posted at the trailhead and on the website. If you experience a safety related incident on the trails, please contact TART Trails at (231) 941-4300, or complete the Trail Incident Reporting Form.
- Why ride when you can ski? Fatbikes provide a fun way for cyclists to stay in shape during the winter season off their trainer holed up in their basement. Fatbikes also provide a way for skiers to cross-train! Simply bundle up like you would for skiing and get out and ride. No waxing required.
- Why is the Winter Sports Singletrack only 15k long? It takes significant time and resources to develop a new trail. Twice around will give you a great ride and there are multiple loop options that are non-directional. The group is hoping to work on the next phase to connect more locations for improved non-motorized winter recreation opportunities.
- What do the skiers get out of this? We all benefit from a new trail in the community. The skiers benefit from reduced pressure on the Vasa Pathway with the creation of the cycling oriented trail. The new trail is also open to skiers and is conducive to classic skiing though no tracks will be set.
- Got questions about the grooming? For questions on the VASA Pathway notify email@example.com , for questions on the Winter Sports Singletrack contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- What do other Nordic trails do? We are not the only, nor the first organization to tackle this issue. There are a variety of approaches other places have used including shared trails, separate trails, fatbike use during designated times/days.
Marquette: NTN plans to groom 20 plus miles of single-track on the NTN South Trails for winter biking. Fatbikes are allowed to use Nordic trails that are dog friendly. Riders can support snow bike grooming by purchasing a “support the Groom” card at Marquette bike shops and the NTN Office.
Al Qual Recreation area, Ishpeming: Fatbikes are allowed on ski trails with purchase of a pass.
Michigan Tech trail system: Nearly 15 kilometers of groomed ski trail and ungroomed single-track are open to fatbike bikers. Restricted to purpose-built snow bikes only.
Swedetown trails: Fatbikes are allowed after 6pm on Tuesdays. A season or day pass must be purchased.
Round Valley, Park City, UT: 25 km of trails shared by all: skiers, dog walkers, snowshoers, dog walkers, snow bikers.
Levi Mounds, WI: Fatbikers use different trails than skiers, groomed by snowmobiles but share same warming hut.
Grand Targhee, WY: The first ski resort to open large sections of their Nordic Trails to bikes.
Methow, WA: Opened a 25K section of their extensive nordic trail network to fatbikes last winter. They have evolved a system of “red days” when the 25k are closed to fatbikes due to trail conditions (about 10% of the time) and “green days” when the 25 kilometers are open to fatbikes (the rest of the time). This has worked well, though they struggle with getting financial support from trail users other thank skiers (i.e. fatbikes, walkers, etc)
There are about 50 kilometers of multi-use trails managed by others in their area, some of which are open to fatbikes. Here is a link to a local website there that provides some information.
Royal Gorge, CO: Opening parts of trails to fatbikes this year.
Tahoe Donner, CA: Opening parts of trails to fatbikes this year.
Anchorage, AK: The Nordic Sking Association of Anchorage grooms multi-use trails that allow fatbikes, and trails that are just for cross-country skiing.
White Pass Ski area, WA: Allowed every day after 3:30pm, conditions permitting.
Alberta, Canada: Snow bikes allowed everywhere except certain restricted trails.