February 23rd, 2021
Fat Biking in Northern and Western Maine
Looking for a way to make the most of your Maine winter?
Fat biking is fast becoming the most fun you can have on two wheels. It’s a sport that is as exciting for beginners as it is for seasoned mountain biking aficionados. With more and more outfitters renting equipment around the state, it’s easier now than ever to give fat biking a try.
Fat biking is a lot like mountain biking; the difference is the size of the tires. An average width of a mountain bike tire is 2.8 to 3 inches. An average fat bike tire is 4 to 4.8 inches. The bigger tires make it easier for fat bikes to traverse the snow and ice on winter trails.
“I love that fat biking is a totally different sport from Nordic skiing, but people are still having equal amounts of fun on the snow,” said Sarah Weafer, Events and Marketing Director for Mahoosuc Pathways.
Mainers know how to have fun when the snow flies, and there are excellent trails that are specifically groomed for fat biking. Read on to start planning your winter fat bike adventure…
Bethel Village Trails
Bethel Inn Resort
21 Broad Street, Bethel
207-824-6276 (winter only)
While there has been fat biking in the Bethel region for about six years, Mahoosuc Pathways gave the sport a shot of adrenaline when they created the Bethel Village Trails in 2016. These trails are specifically groomed for fat bikes during the winter.
Fat bikers need to purchase either a day pass ($13) or a season pass ($55-$65) to ride. “We sold close to 400 day trail passes last season for fat biking,” Weafer said.
Bikes can be rented from Barker Mountain Bikes at the Bethel Village Trails headquarters. “Many fat bike lovers also enjoy a good craft beer after their ride,” Weafer said. “We’re fortunate to have the Millbrook Tavern right on the premises, and Steam Mill Brewing is a half-mile away. And Sunday River Brew Pub is a few miles from the village.”
Weafer and the team at Mahoosuc Pathways are getting ready for their third annual Snowmaggeddon, a fat bike race that is part of the Maine Fat Bike Winter Series. Mark your calendars for February 2, 2020.
Rangeley Lakes Region
Rangeley Lakes Trails Center
524 Saddleback Mountain Road
The Rangeley Lakes region has more than 34 miles of groomed multi-use trails to explore. Enjoy stunning views of Saddleback Mountain and Saddleback Lake while you pedal your way through the snow.
You can purchase a seasonal pass or take advantage of their day rate, which varies from $10-$15. You can also rent a fat bike for $35/half day; $55/full day. If you’re new to the sport and prefer to go with a seasoned biker who knows the trails, check out their website for information on guided tours.
The annual Rangeley Fat Bike Loppet is scheduled for January 26, 2020. This epic race has something for everyone: short and long courses on a mix of wide, nordic trails and singletrack. The field is capped at 100 riders, so don’t wait to register! AJ’s Fat Bikes in Rangeley will even rent you a bike.
Appalachian Mountain Club
Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins
15 Moosehead Lake Road, Greenville
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) boasts one of the largest networks of winter cycling trails in Maine. Visitors will want to hit the 80 miles of single track riding located a few miles southeast of the Medawisla Lodge.
The AMC doesn’t rent bikes, but you can pick one up at Northwoods Outfitters in Greenville. Make it a fun getaway for a couple of days and book a stay at Medawisla. Of the three AMC lodges, it’s the only one you can drive into and park during the winter.
While the AMC trails might be a bit off the beaten path, you can ride them for free. Want a bit more adventure? Skip Medawisla and make an overnight reservation at Little Lyford or Gorman Chairback Lodge. “Guests at Lyford and Gorman fat bike to the facilities, roughly 7.5 miles from the winter parking lot,” said Jonathan Zimmerman, AMC Regional Lodging Manager. “Our staff transports their luggage from the winter parking lots to the lodges.”
Katahdin Area Trails
New England Outdoor Center
30 Twin Pines Road, Millinocket
Fat biking with a view of Katahdin? Yes, please! The New England Outdoor Center (NEOC) has been hard at work creating the Katahdin Area Trails – single track mountain biking trails that originate from the NEOC lodge. Take a ride on their newly groomed mountain bike trails or else you can venture out on their cross-country ski trails. You can also ride across Millinocket Lake with ease. “We put studded snow tires on the fat bikes in the winter,” said Matt Polstein, NEOC founder.
Fat bikes can be rented from the lodge for $15/hour; $40/half-day; and $50/full day. Make sure to end your ride at River Driver’s Restaurant and warm up with a delicious meal.
— Text: Melanie Brooks. Melanie has been writing about Maine for the past 12 years. Read more of her past work at melanie-brooks.com