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biking in the snow
Photo by Cranbrook Tourism/Nick Nault

Fat Bike the Kootenays

Posted on Dec 07, 2021 by Kristy Jahn-Smith

When the brown pow is blanketed by a carpet of white many Kootenay folks keep the wheels turning. The snowy mountain towns that ski dreams are made of are also home to some great groomed fat bike networks. Many of these communities have stories about humble beginnings where dedicated folks packed trails down by foot or snowshoe before buying machines to groom trails.

The fact that the best pow days for skiing are not the best fat bike days and vice versa is not a fact lost on those who know. While a fresh dump means a race to the ski hill, hardpack conditions might be a good day to ride a fat bike. So which Kootenay communities can you go to and where should you ride, rent, rest, and refuel? We have the links to recommendations from the locals, the latest grooming conditions, and more.

CRANBROOK

Photo credit: Cranbrook Tourism/Nick Nault

Known as one of BC’s sunniest cities, Cranbrook sees less than 150 cm of annual snowfall on average. What this means is there is a lot of great riding on sunny winter days and it doesn't take as much effort to get the trails back in shape after a dump. Cranbrook’s main winter riding area is at the Southstar Recreation Area, though many trails in the Cranbrook Community Forest are rideable with little to no grooming throughout the winter. Rent bikes at Northstar Bicycle Co. Find the best places to rest and refuel in Cranbrook.

FERNIE

Photo credit: Tourism Fernie/Vince Mo

Fernie is well established as a destination for mountain biking and also has a dedicated fat bike community. Check out their very active Facebook group to find out where people are riding and what the current conditions are like. Rentals are available at the Ski Base and Gearhub Sports in downtown Fernie, or on-mountain at Fernie Alpine Resort Not sure how to get started? Try an evening fat biking tour with Fernie Alpine Resort.

ROSSLAND

Rossland is another well-known mountain biking community that boasts great fat biking. Rossland has a brand new grooming machine this year. The Tracks USA Trail Tamer will be laying down a smoother ride than ever. Find out where that groomer has been put to work with Rossland Fat Bike grooming updates. Rent bikes at Revolution Cycles or at the base of Red Mountain during operating hours. Find places to stay and apres in Rossland.

Check out the Fat Bike Rossland Grooming Report (Photo credit: Rory Belter)

SPARWOOD

This community perched on the Alberta border is known for mining and its giant truck. But it also features some sweet winter riding. Take the Elk Valley Trail, a section of the Trans Canada Trail from Sparwood to The Lookout. Find the Sparwood Fat Bike community on Facebook and scope out the Sparwood winter trails on Trailforks.

KIMBERLEY

Kimberley winter trails are groomed in the Kimberley Nature Park and Lois Creek networks. Don’t miss the Tea Spot if you are riding in Lois Creek! Find the latest information at Kimberley Winter Trails on Facebook. Bike rentals are available at Kimberley Alpine Resort. Find out more about Kimberley.

INVERMERE

Photo Credit: Tourism Invermere Panorama

Invermere’s main winter riding area is at Lillian Lake on the Johnson Trails which is maintained by the Columbia Valley Cycling Society. For the latest grooming information check out the Invermere Fat Bike Community on Facebook. For a unique fat bike experience take a ride on the Whiteway a 34 km groomed track on Lake Windermere. Panorama Mountain Resort has bikes for rent and has added 10 kilometers to its network this season. For more on the area visit Tourism Invermere Panorama.

NIPIKA MOUNTAIN RESORT

Photo Credit: Derek Bisbing

Near Radium on the edge of Kootenay National Park is the fat bike playground of Nipika Mountain Resort. The Cross River Ripper Fat Bike Race held at Nipika was canceled for 2022 but look for this race with 10km and 20 km distances when it returns in 2023. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the amazing trails at Nipika. Set along the Kootenay and Cross River valleys with stunning mountain, river, and forest views this network is set amongst rustic and cozy cabins where you can hunker down and stay.


PLEASE SUPPORT THE TRAILS

Most of these trail networks are maintained by passionate volunteers/local riders and it goes without saying that it’s important to ride respectfully and consider donating to the local groups that make it all possible.