Best places to fat bike in Steamboat

Jeremy MacGray makes his way along a snow-covered Routt County Road 36 on Wednesday afternoon. Recent snows and cooler temperatures have not deterred the Steamboat local from venturing out on his fat tire bike.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — With snow falling at the rate that it is, cyclists only have one thing on their mind: when and where can they roll a fatty — ride a fat bike, that is.

The key to fat biking anywhere is following the rules and common courtesies. Most places allow fat biking on groomed cross country skiing trails, so bikers must do their best to keep the trails in good condition.

Most Nordic centers suggest staying to the right of the trail, not riding if you leave a rut and keeping tire pressure at 10 pounds per square inch or less. A majority of the fat bike trails in the area are multiuse trails as well, so riders should stay aware and keep an ear and eye out for skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers.

Howelsen Hill Ski Area 
Distance: 13 miles Rentals: No Food: Concessions Phone: 970-879-8499

All Nordic trails at Howelsen Hill Ski Area are open to fat biking as well as snowshoeing. Closures and an updated grooming report can be found at an interactive online map.

Fat Bike Etiquette on Howelsen Hill

The intermediate trails on the southeast side of the mountain are perfect for the casual rider, with some hills but nothing extremely difficult. Farther up Howelsen, cyclists can pedal on expert terrain in Emerald Meadows and along Blackmer Drive.

Bikers, like skiers, are required to attain a day or season pass before embarking on their winter ride, although Blackmer is free to access.

Howelsen doesn’t offer rentals on site, but does have some warm snacks and drinks available in the lodge.

Emerald Mountain 
Distance: 5 to 10 miles Rentals: No Food: No

Off Blackmer, on the Emerald Mountain system, there are a few groomed trails courtesy of Routt County Riders. There is one paid employee and a few volunteers who use a snowmobile with an attached groomer to keep a handful of popular trails packed down and ready to ride. 

Routt County Riders aims to keep Orton, MGM, Prayer Flag, Blair Witch, Angy Grouse and NPR regularly groomed throughout the winter.

“At the beginning of the season, right now, we have about 5 miles groomed. We got NPR, Prayer Flag, and I think there’s some grooming done to get up to those,” said Routt County Riders Executive Director Laraine Martin. “It’s kind of a team, family effort to get things groomed up on those trails.”

There isn’t a consistent way to see updated trail conditions, but if Routt County Riders adds a new trail, they’ll “blast it all over social media,” according to Martin.

A pair of fat bikers pedal up a hill at the Haymaker Nordic Center on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
Shelby Reardon

Haymaker Nordic Center
Distance: 6 miles Rentals: Yes Food: Restaurant Phone: 970-879-9444

This is the one place in Steamboat where fat bikers are separated from skiers. They still have to share with snowshoers, but for the most part, have a narrow, groomed trail to themselves.

There are a handful of bikes and helmets on site to rent. Remember, a hat with a pom-pom doesn’t allow a helmet to fit correctly. After completing both loops, patrons can grab lunch at the Bar and Grill.

Being so close to town, Haymaker can get pretty busy, so pack patience as well as layers, as the open fields can get chilly.

Hours, prices and more information can be found at the Steamboat Nordic website. 

Catamount Lake
Distance: 15.5 miles Rentals: Yes Food: Restaurant Phone: 970-871-6667

This slightly-remote Nordic ski center south of Steamboat has just six fat bikes on hand, so calling ahead is key to landing one. Catamount Lake Club and Ranch has about 15 miles of groomed skate and classic trails, all of which are open to fat bikers. 

Partnering with Ski Haus, Catamount hosts the Pleasant Valley Race-Ride Tour, which includes a pair of Full Moon Fat Bike races. Registration includes a tour T-shirt, a burger and a beer or non-alcoholic beverage.

Even farther south at Stagecoach Reservoir, there are fat bikes that visitors can borrow to access the 5.5 miles of trails at Stagecoach State Park.

Snowmobile trails

Groomed snowmobile trails in the Steamboat Springs area.

Routt Powder Riders twice weekly groom over 100 miles of snowmobile trails between Buffalo, Rabbit Ears and Gore passes. Trail reports can be found at the Colorado Snowmobile Association website. 

While fat biking around Buffalo Pass and Rabbit Ears is growing, the area is primarily the territory of snowmobilers.

“The stickers we put on our snow machines pay for those trails to get groomed, and the fat tire bikes don’t pay anything,” said Ed Calhoun, president of Routt Powder Riders. “That’s where some people have heartburn with who uses those trails in the winter time. But, they are available to them to use.”

Calhoun simply encourages both snowmobilers and fat bikers to use caution while using shared trails. 

If fat bikers wish to donate to Routt Powder Riders, they can contact the group via email at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.