Guide to Fat Biking in Northern Ontario This Winter

Discover the thrill of winter fat biking. Find out where to go and how to bike safely.

If you love cycling then fat biking is a must-do winter activity. These oversized bicycles have wide tires designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft, unstable terrain like snow-covered trails.

Woman riding a fat bike on snowy trail

Northern Ontario has the right stuff for winter fat biking. Source: Colin Field 

With the right terrain and a long snow season, it’s no surprise that cycling enthusiasts in Northern Ontario have embraced winter fat biking with a passion. Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie and  Thunder Bay all have robust and growing cycling communities that have encouraged the development of exceptional groomed trails for winter fat biking.

Where To Go Fat Biking in Northern Ontario

Sudbury has two excellent fat biking areas. Kivi Park is a premier four-season destination for outdoor adventure activities. They offer a range of trails ready for seasoned fat bikers and beginners, with fat bike rentals available on site from Adventure 365. Walden Cross Country and Walden Mountain Bike Club have partnered to offer winter fat biking at the Walden Trail Centre on some single track snowshoe trails and on some skate trails.

Sault Ste. Marie is a mecca for fat biking. At Crimson Ridge, you can ride over 20 km of thrilling, scenic and technical machine-groomed trails. The Hiawatha Highlands offer exceptional riding on the Crystal Creek Ski Trail system, the inner loop (3 km) at the Kinsmen Family Adventure Trail and the Crystal snowshoe trail (approximately 4 km). Ride the Hub Trail, a multi-use recreational trail that circles the city. Fat bike rentals are available at Vélorution.

Person ripping down a snow covered trail on a fat bike

Winter riding is fun and challenging. Source: Colin Field 

Thunder Bay is an epic place to ride. For beginners, Centennial Park is a good place to start. Experienced riders will love the thrill of technical riding on the Shuniah Mines trails managed by the Black Sheep Mountain Bike Club. For incredible scenery, try biking the 50 km of shared cross-country ski trails in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. No fat bike? No problem. You can rent at Rollin’ Thunder or Fresh Air Experiences.

While the fat biking is as good as it has ever been in Northern Ontario, this snow season will be a little different given the COVID-19 pandemic. This article will go over everything you need to know for safe and healthy fat biking this winter.

Is it safe to go fat biking this winter?

Any place people congregate carries with it a risk of transmission. However, fat biking takes place outside and in large, open spaces where it's very easy to spread out, which inherently makes it lower risk than activities that take place indoors or even outdoors in limited quarters.

While on the trail, you need to practice social distancing and keep a distance of 2 metres between yourself and other trail users. This is very easy as you will be outdoors and have lots of space.   

Three people on fat bikes riding through the forest

Be sure to practice social distancing while on the trail.  Source: Colin Field 

Staying active with your family improves mental and physical health. Spending time in nature and exercising outdoors can relieve stress, strengthen bones and muscles, better your sleep, improve your mood and boost your immune system.

Weighing the risks and benefits can help you make an informed decision about the relative safety of going fat biking this winter. Get informed about the various changes fat biking areas are making to their operations to keep guests and employees safe and healthy.

How fat biking providers are responding to COVID-19

Cycling stores, rental locations and trail destinations are currently following all provincial guidelines and asking you to do the same. This includes, at a minimum, social distancing, hand sanitizing, wearing a face covering and allowing a limited number of customers into a building. Most trail passes can be purchased online rather than onsite.

Man in winter gear on fat bike

Arrive prepared at the trail as some facilities may not be open. Source: Colin Field 

You should arrive at the trail prepared for fat biking. This means you should be properly dressed or be prepared to change in your vehicle.

If you are renting bikes, please call ahead of time. All bikes and equipment are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before and after use. You are STRONGLY encouraged to bring your own bike helmet if you are renting a bike. All rental helmets will be sanitized and quarantined after use to ensure they are safe for future guests.

While there has always been cleaning procedures in-place, there is now an increase in the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high-touch items and surfaces in buildings. 

Once you are on the trail, you need to practice social distancing by keeping a distance of 2 metres between yourself and other trail users.

If you have ANY symptoms or have come in contact with anyone suspected of having COVID19, please do not use the trails or rent bikes. You need to continue to self-isolate as required.  

Following are some of the rules and practices bikers may be asked to abide by at fat biking areas in Northern Ontario:

  • Guests are asked to wear face coverings indoors and anywhere else physical distancing is challenging to maintain.
  • Guests are asked to stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart in all areas, inside and outside.
  • Guests are asked to only ride with those they arrived with and/or who are inside their bubble.
  • Guests are asked to use hand sanitizer before entering any buildings.
  • Guests are asked to limit any inside activities.

For up-to-date information about what restrictions are in place for regions of Ontario, visit:

Planning a future winter fat biking vacation

Right now, we must stay close to home to limit the spread of COVID-19. That doesn't mean you can't dream about future fat biking trips, though. In your downtime this winter, plan a Northern Ontario fat biking vacation to experience all the natural beauty and excitement this area has to offer.

Fat bikers about to ride on a wooden boardwalk.

Ride easy to technical trails. Source: Colin Field 

Sunset Country & Superior Country

Home to some of the best fat biking trails in Ontario, the Thunder Bay area is a great place for a fat biking vacation. Here are some resources that will help you in your planning:

Algoma Country

Plan a winter fat biking vacation to Algoma Country. Here are some resources that will help you in your trip planning:

Northeastern Ontario

Sudbury has two excellent fat biking areas. Kivi Park and the Walden Trail Centre offer trails for all skill levels – from beginners to experts. Here are some resources that will help you in your fat bike vacation planning:

Hit the Trails

Aerial view of three fat bikers riding winter trail

It's a great winter activity. Source: Colin Field 

With the creation of fat bikes, there is no longer any off-season for biking. You can make tracks with these go-anywhere bikes all winter long. If there’s a trail in your area, it’s worth getting out there this winter to enjoy the beauty and excitement Northern Ontario has to offer.  

About Trish Manning

Trish Manning is an adventure travel writer and the content coordinator for Ontario Outdoor Adventures. She is an avid outdoor person who loves to hike, paddle, SUP, snowshoe, cross-country ski and explore Ontario's great outdoors with her golden retriever, Daisy.

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