Rolling around in the white stuff
A fatbike is an off-road bicycle with over-sized tires, typically 3.8 in (97 mm) or larger and rims 2.6 in (66 mm) or wider, designed for low ground pressure to allow riding on soft unstable terrain, such as snow, sand, bogs and mud. ~ Wikipedia
I was surprised by the number of requests I’ve received over the holidays from riders wondering about places to ride their fatty’s in Whistler this winter. Not having explored the area on a beefed up mountain bike, I thought that it was high time I took to the trails to figure out what areas made for fun riding during the snow covered months. I must say, living in an area that is so close to the North Shore, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, where riding dirt all year long is possible, exploring the trails on one of these steeds never even crossed my mind. However, I’m glad I took up the challenge as the fun my friends and I had exploring our local trails was well worth the experience.
The Valley trail is a large multiuse network of paved pathway and boardwalk that connects all of Whistler’s neighbourhoods, linking these areas to trails and parks. The full network measures over 40 km, part of which is kept open during the winter months. The section between Meadow Park and Rainbow park is groomed for x-country skiing and is open to hikers, walkers and bikers. This a fabulous section of hard packed trail, serving as a connector to several zones we recommend you take your fatbike on if you want to get into the woods on some singletrack.
The area is close to town, easy to access via the Valley Trail and five minutes from several shops that offer rentals; including Comor Sports and Patagonia. Packed down by all the dog walkers and hikers who frequent the area, this zone is a blast to explore on your fatty. Stick to the main trail Cut Yer Bars and ride it as an out an back or part of a larger ride when heading out towards Emerald Forest. Whatever you choose, this zone serves as a great intro to riding your fatbike in the woods on some hard packed singletrack. There are also plenty of optional steeps, snow covered rock rolls to play around on for those a little more adventurous.
Not to be confused with Emerald No Flow Zone, this area is located near the west end of Lorimer Rd. and accessible by riding the Valley Trail across the bridge, over the tracks and left up past the toboggan hill. It’s a maze to explore, so it will take some time to get your bearings. The good thing is that the area is relatively small and nothing is too hard (steep or tough) to ride. In fact, it may be a little easier to navigate in the winter as only a small number of trails in this maze are packed down for riding; making it a little less daunting to explore.
Another fun area worth exploring. Again, it gets plenty of foot and paw traffic during the winter months, making the trails rideable once the area is packed down. Located near Alpine, northwest of the Alta Road, just above Emerald Forest. There are plenty of access points and a good map will get you there.
Open to x-country skiing in the winter, Whistler Olympic Park also offers fatbiking opportunities. Several groomed trails are open to riding during winter operation and worth checking out. You can bring your own bike or rent, the choice is yours. I recommend checking out $5 Wednesday (3pm to 9pm) during which time everything is $5 each; rentals, tickets and food. For more info, click here.
There are plenty more places to ride, including sections of the Sea to Sky Trail (the south end in particular from Cheakamus Crossing) that I’ve not had a chance to discover – yet. But, you can bet that I’ll be back on a fatbike a few more times before the winter ends.