Have you ever ridden singletrack snow? It’s pretty frickin fun. As mountain bikers, we love the sight of endless ribbons of brown, tacky dirt singletrack (or sometimes white dirt, if you’re riding White Mesa). But guess what? A packed trail of snow, albeit different, can be equally sublime to ride – and just as visually stunning. On either side of you is deep, fluffy snow, and you squiggle your bike through it all. The best of all, is if you fall (actually WHEN you fall – it’s inevitable) – you poof into freshies. What an adventure! It truly brings the vibe of mountain biking to fat biking.
A few of us learned these joys first hand at the Fat Bike Summit last month. We embarked on a group ride up at Snow Basin, UT – led by some locals. Many of their mountain bike trails become naturally packed by snowshoers accessing the same trails in the Winter. Who would’ve thunk that all you need are some snowshoers using a trail to make it a viable winter singletrack bike trail… Hmmm…
We were so fired up, that when we got home, we decided to do our own little tester of snowshoe “fatpacking”. We decided to try packing the Uptown Trail, which pretty much lies dormant once the snow starts falling. Guess what? Yup. It worked!! After a little trial and error, we figured out a system that is awesome. Three pairs of snowshoes, a nordic baby sled, and a makeshift polk made out of a milk crate and a chopped up snowboard later – and we had ourselves some pristine singletrack snow in Mammoth.
Uptown, aka the “Whiteout Trail”. We packed it from the trailhead at The Village to the Earthquake Fault junction. It has worked so well as an out and back, that we now plan to do the same with Downtown, forming a complete loop. The best part? It’s completely legal, and with maintenance and routine packing after snowstorms, it will be possible to ride an Uptown/Downtown loop year-round. What’s even better? It feels and rides like a completely different trail than it is in the summer!! Also, there’s a definite sense of gratification you get by “earning your turns”. Snowshoeing is a wonderful activity in its own right, so it’s a win-win when you enjoy the activity as you do it, and also know that after it sets up, you’ll get to ride your bike on the trail you just “created”. So, if you have snowshoes – help us out!! Hike Uptown/Downtown with your friends!!!
Of course, the next logical progression is grooming a whole trail network via snowmobile with a custom grooming drag… but that’s a whole other story 🙂