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Travel Alberta

The Best Places to Fat Bike in the Canadian Rockies

No need to stop biking because of a bit of snow: hop on a fat bike and enjoy the mountain trails!

Fat biking is a winter sport that’s gaining traction among adventure enthusiasts, and it’s not about jumping on a peloton bike after eating too much holiday chocolate.

Fat biking involves riding a bike with ultra-wide, balloon-like tires, about three times wider than standard mountain bike tires. 

These low-inflation tires are designed to float across snow-covered trails, offering a unique way to explore wintry landscapes.

And fat-biking is a whole lot of fun!

Origin of Fat Biking

The first fat-tired bike was invented in Alaska in the 1980s by Steve Baker, who wanted a bike that could navigate Alaska’s snowy landscapes. 

To solve this problem, he fused two rims fitting dual tires side by side, resulting in a 4.4-inch broad tire. 

He then crafted a custom frame to accommodate these wide wheels, thus giving birth to the first fat bike.

The sport grew in popularity in the mid-2000s when large-framed, wide-tired bikes became commercially available.

Today, there are all sorts of makes and models of fat-tire bikes available, including e-bikes with studded tires that can even handle riding on ice.

Fat biking in Kananaskis Country | Kananaskis Outfitters

Best Places for Fat Biking in the Canadian Rockies

For those new to fat biking or seeking an unforgettable winter experience, here are the top spots in the Canadian Rockies. Click on the link in each listing to learn more about the exact location and access to the trails.

And don’t worry, if you don’t have a fat tire bike, there are plenty of rentals to be had in Banff, Canmore, Jasper and Kananaskis.

Castle Provincial Park

Covering over 105,000 hectares, the breathtaking scenery of Castle Provincial Park includes mountains, hills, forests, and meadows. 

It’s an ideal spot for fat biking, with its extensive system of cross-country, snowshoe, and fat bike trails. 

Riding through the park’s vast snowy landscapes is an exhilarating way to heat up, but for added warmth, there’s a welcoming warming hut in the park. This snug haven features a wood-burning stove, offering a comfortable break from the chilly outdoors.

Learn more at this link.

Banff National Park

Moraine Lake Road 

Closed to traffic in winter, Moraine Lake Road offers an excellent route for fat biking, especially for those staying near Lake Louise. The trail presents some challenging sections, but the views at the end are spectacular. Remember, you will be sharing the road with skiers and snowshoers.

Learn more at this link.

The Great Divide Trail 

Banff National Park is one of the top destinations in the world for fat biking | Bikescapes

Bring up the Great Divide Trail in a conversation with a Banff or Lake Louise local, and you might get blank stares. However, mention “the old 1A Highway,” and they’ll get excited and recommend it as a perfect place for cross-country skiing, dog sledding and fat-tire biking!

This former road from Lake Louise to the BC border has transformed into a trail that resembles a wilderness more than a roadway.

Throughout the winter, it boasts double tracksetting and, a skating lane for skiers and a path for bikers, stretching 8 kilometres one way.

Learn more at this link.

Lake Minnewanka Trail

This scenic trail runs alongside Lake Minnewanka and is shared with cross-country skiers. Be sure not to ride on the tracked ski trails. The views here are worth the effort, making it a must-visit for fat bikers.

Learn more at this link.

Spray River East Trail

Starting behind the Banff Springs Hotel, this 11.6 km round-trio trail takes you through a forest and is perfect for a short winter ride.

Learn more at this link.

Sundance Canyon Trail

Starting from Cave & Basin, the Sundance Trail is an 8.7-km out-and-back trail that offers a serene experience as you cycle through the forest, quickly transporting you away from the bustle of downtown Banff.

Learn more at this link.

Tunnel Mountain Bench Loop

This is a 10-kilometer mountain bike-only route that offers unique views of the Cascade and Rundle Mountains. The trail starts with a stunning view from the Hoodoo’s lookout.

Learn more at this link.

Sunny skies and spectacular scenery make Banff National Park a paradise for fat biking | Travel Alberta
Sunny skies and spectacular scenery make Banff National Park a paradise for fat biking | Travel Alberta

Kananaskis Country

Canmore Nordic Centre

The center features multiple fat bike-only single-track trails like “Blue Coal Chutes,” “Long Road to Ruin,” and the challenging “EKG,” offering a fantastic ride for true enthusiasts.

Learn more at this link.

Shinrin, Kananaskis

Perfect for experienced fat bikers, Shinrin is a narrow adventure trail that runs through the forest with scenic lookouts over Ribbon Creek. If you’re seeking a guided experience, Kananaskis Outfitters offers tours and bike rentals.

Learn more at this link.

Fat biking in Canmore | Travel Alberta
Fat biking in Canmore | Travel Alberta

Jasper National Park

Pyramid Lake

Offering spectacular winter scenery, Pyramid Lake has excellent trails for fat biking. Beginners can try the easy, packed trail from Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge to Lake Annette and back.

Learn more at this link.

Maligne Lake

Another beautiful spot in Jasper, Maligne Lake, offers trails that are suitable for fat biking and allow you to immerse yourself in the stunning winter landscape of the Canadian Rockies.

Learn more at this link.

Fat biking Jasper's trails | Travel Alberta
Fat biking Jasper’s trails | Travel Alberta

Gear for Beginners

To start fat biking doesn’t require much – just a fat bike with the correct tire pressure (usually less than ten psi for better traction on snow) and basic winter gear. 

Dress as you would for cross-country skiing, in light layers that can be adjusted based on activity level. 

Pedalling around in the snow will get you heated up fast, so be sure you have a pack for your extra layers.

A light beanie under your helmet, or better yet, a ski helmet, is ideal for keeping your head warm. 

Also, a water bottle is preferred over a hydration pack to prevent water from freezing.

Safety Considerations

When embarking on a fat biking adventure, it’s crucial to check trail reports and consult park staff regarding weather and trail conditions. 

You’ll likely be sharing the trails with snowshoers and cross-country skiers, so be prepared to yield and ride single-file. 

Having a good headlight is also advisable for those longer rides that stretch into the evening.

Enjoy your fat biking winter adventure in the Canadian Rockies! 

Remember, each trail offers its own unique charm and challenges, so choose one that matches your skill level and interests. Happy biking!

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