Howelsen Hill opens Nordic trails to fat bikes
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say that tire pressure will need to be less than 10 psi.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Howelsen Hill has opened its Nordic trails to fat bikes for its fifth winter season.
“Fat biking on Howelsen Hill is an alternative to other areas,” Parks, open space and trails manager Craig Robinson said. “It’s wider and people like to just add up the miles when they’re training for endurance events. We want to provide an option for multi-use, and, if they can treat other users with respect, we believe it can be done.”
To join the waitlist for the Nordic ambassador program, contact Craig Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To gain access to the trails, bikers must purchase a Nordic season pass or day ticket at the Howelsen Hill Lodge during Alpine ski hill hours. If the concessions are closed, the tickets can be purchased upstairs at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club office or from the vending machine in the fireplace room.
Bikers must also meet certain guidelines and follow proper trail etiquette.
Fat bikes users cannot use groomed trails if they leave a tire rut deeper than 1 inch or cannot ride in a straight line. Bike tires must be wider than 3.7 inches and tire pressure will need to be less than 10 psi.
“The whole goal is to minimize impacts of the tread use for skiers,” Robinson said. “The wider tire disperses the weight of the bike and the rider. It does not create a rut. Whether incorrect width or tire pressure, you’re not supposed to be riding.”
Common trail etiquette includes yielding to other bikers and riding in control, not riding in classic tracks and staying on the firmest part of the track. Riding in temperatures warmer than 32 degrees or after a snowfall, before the trail is groomed, can create unsafe conditions for skiers.
“This year, we’ve had pretty good compliance from the community, and we haven’t seen the ruts that we’ve seen in previous years,” Robinson said. “Last year, we had some challenges where people rode before set up, and, being a low snow year, the tracks lasted a long time.”
Bikes are available for purchase or rent at Steamboat bike shops, where they can also seek guidance on the proper equipment and alternative trail options that don’t require tickets.
Blackmer, NPR and Orton Trails are free and do not require Howelsen Hill tickets or passes. NPR and Orton are periodically groomed.
There is also a Nordic ambassador program, through the city of Steamboat Springs, where riders can earn a season pass to the Howelsen Hill trail by volunteering. While the program is full at this time, there is still a waitlist. Robinson encourages fat bikers to participate and help spread the word about how to properly use the trails.
Trails are closed to fat bikes from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and during Nordic race events.
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