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  1. #1
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    Fatbiking on snowmobile trails

    I'm from Wisconsin currently we cannot legaly ride on snowmo trails here and I'm trying to Change that

    What are the laws where your from.
    How well is this activity recived

  2. #2
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    isnt that kind of dangerous? like riding in the middle of the street

  3. #3
    Owner Epic Biking
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    It is against the law? Wow! I did a little searching on the web and couldn't find anything that said it was against the law to ride a bike on snowmobile trails. I'm assuming that the laws here in Utah for riding a bike in the winter are no different than riding in the summer. I know there are some trails that are groomed for skiers and they get real mad if your ride bikes on those. Other than that I think it is OK to ride wherever it is legal in the summer and the snow too deep to stop me.
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  4. #4
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    We're looking at the same issues here on east coast of canada. We are going to try to approach the snowmobile association people once we get some info in a pile. I'd buy a season snow pass if that was all it took...but i'm having my doubts.

  5. #5
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    In wisco its "technically"trespassing because these private landowners who allow the trails to go through their property allowed snomobiles to use them. not bikes per say or xc skiers or dog walkers

    I'm currently working with the snomo clubs in my area to come to an agreement

    As far as a pass or something of that nature I'm all for it. But there is nothing in place at this time so

    Join a snomo club I figure, they control the trails as far as maintenance and GROOMING
    Which is what I'm after in the end anyhow

    Our snowmo trail in my country is a network and vast to the tune of almost 900 miles

    The clubs seem interested in working together so that is a plus

    Also these trails recive state and federal funding for grooming and other uses

  6. #6
    Location: SouthPole of MN
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    Hmmm. I ride them in MN and haven't had anyone yell at me. I hadn't really thought about it being illegal... most snowmobile riders just look like "what the hell is that thing" and keep on going. It's easy to hear if they are coming and I get to the side. Not dangerous at all.

  7. #7
    Laramie, Wyoming
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    In Wyoming, the ski trails and snowmobile trails are on national forest land so nothing can be said about it unless the forest service decides to make bicycles illegal in the forest.

  8. #8
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    From what I understand about MN its legal because for a while you had a pro biking governer...so I've been told don't quote me

    I should add that I'm no expert on the rules by any means

    Also I should add that on publicly owned land here its OK as long as there's no specific ordinances against it

    We have a cty forest system that we bike all summer but at the end of the fall season the park closes to bikes to allow for hunters then xc skiers and snowshoes

    Public land is golden here

    These rules were inplace long before 4"tires were thought of

  9. #9
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    Yea and danger. I guess is relative
    I ride my bikes in the road in some form or another every day.
    Yea I'm scared of getting hit
    Like he said up there^^
    Sled are loud and even worse dare I say "drivers intoxicated"
    But then again so are car drivers.

  10. #10
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    I live in Wisconsin too and have asked that question to my friends who are from here (I'm not). What they have told me is that the farm owners are concerned about the damage that bicycle tires can do to their fields, which I can fully appreciate. They are, after all, allowing people on their land. The issue, in my mind, is the effective communication that fat bikes are designed to float, not cut through the substrate ridden on. Of course, there's only so much float and it only takes on jerk to ruin it for the rest of us.

    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?

    Then there's the issue of safety. I would be extremely nervous about riding on such trails. Those guys go pretty fast and the trail isn't very wide. I was a roadie once, but the increasing number of close calls and the one side swipe kept me off road for good. One wreck with a snowmobile would be a terrible thing. I'm fortunate that I live close enough to the Great River Trail and a few parks that I don't need to ride those trails.

    I hear your frustration and don't disagree, but the perception (that can be changed) and the safety concerns (that won't go away) make me less inclined to ride on those trails.

    My long winded 2 cents.
    Steel Fatback

  11. #11
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    One more thing... I did talk to the local snomo club and they were just fine with me riding on the trails, they just warned me to watch out. They were great guys, just as concerned as I was about the safety issues.

    Hope you make some progress...
    Steel Fatback

  12. #12
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    Here in Mass we can ride them but it can be dangerous because the trails are not as wide as in states that get more snow. We night ride the trails a lot so that they can see our light at least for safety reasons as well as less traffic overall. Most snomo guys stop and ask us if we are crazy for riding our bikes in the cold!!

    As far as being legal or not it would depend on the land being public or private as well as if it is a trail system that you have to buy a season pass. I would just buy a snomobile season pass and put the sticker on the bike, that is if you ride the trails enough to justify the cost.

    -Nolan

  13. #13
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    How come every time I check in to see what's going on in the Fatbike forum, I feel like I'm living a deja vu? Great topic, but discussed here and other places recently:

    Snowmobile Trail System Access

    This might actually give you some good information to help do what you're tying to do.

    Also, the upcoming Fatbike summit in Idaho will have many public land managers in attendance, so it would be a good place to discuss the subject with the powers that be:

    Fat Bike Winter Summit & Festival | The 2nd Annual! January 25-27th, 2013 – Island Park, Idaho
    We still hang bike thieves in Wyoming [Pedal House]

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrkgstiff View Post
    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?
    Actually, riding your fat bike on a skate ski trail does mess up the trail, the center area may look smooth, but fat bikes create enough of a divit to create problems, it doesn't take much to ruin the skating surface.

  15. #15
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    I ride in the upper peninsula of Michigan with no issues. I ride at night mostly, I use a blinky light front and rear plus a headlamp. I hear the snowmobiles coming I just step to the side. I asked the dnr if I needed a trail pass and they said no due to a bike not being motorized.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wetpaint View Post
    Actually, riding your fat bike on a skate ski trail does mess up the trail, the center area may look smooth, but fat bikes create enough of a divit to create problems, it doesn't take much to ruin the skating surface.
    I suppose I'd have to draw a diagram, but what I meant was that on the whole groomed trail, there's usually a single track of ruts for the xc skis and the rest is just packed down, at least they are here. I rode on the far side of the trail away from the ruts. I also noticed very little in the way of depression or rutting by my tires. Not trying to argue and you are correct, any riding at all will make impressions on the xc trail. But with a groomed trails here are at least 10' across. Lots of room for a fat tired bike to ride on the opposite side of the ruts for the skis.

    Just sayin'...
    Steel Fatback

  17. #17
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    Okay, time to fess up. I'm just jealous that they have groomed trails and I don't. There I said it!
    Steel Fatback

  18. #18
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    I too live in WI and I ride on the local snowmobile trails fairly often. I have never had anyone get mad at me or anything, mostly just friendly waves or at worst indifference.

    As for safety, you can literally hear them coming a mile away. I am always careful to be courteous and give the snowmobiler the right of way, I get off the trail entirely until they pass. I don't think safety is an issue at all.

    I know I'm not technically allowed on all the trails, I usually base my ride off of one of the rail-to-trails here that is also a snowmobile trail. They can't kick me off that! But the network trails are just too tempting, too interesting and you get to see a lot of little corners of the county you usually wouldn't get to see.

    I would be very happy to pay a user fee or a membership to the local snowmobile club to support trail maintenance. However, at the moment I feel like a policy of don't ask don't tell is less likely to get me in trouble.
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  19. #19
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    I appreciate everyones feedback this is why I started the thread

    I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this thinking

    As more things develop in my quest I will continue to keep you all updated

  20. #20
    Vagician
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    Quote Originally Posted by wrkgstiff View Post
    It's the same for riding on groomed xc ski trails. If we stay away from the grooved portion of their trail, no harm no foul, but ride into it, flattening the groove, trouble... And it's rude. Those trails are groomed for them, not walkers, snow shoers or mountain bikers. I'm all for getting laws changed, but I understand it isn't a law issue, but a perception issue. Fat bikes are only now becoming visible to the mainstream. Bikes that float, are you nuts?
    Groomed trails cost money. Skiers frequently pay for that. I'd suggest you ask your local ski clubs if you can ride the trails that they pay to maintain. Some allow bikers on their trails. Some do not. If you ride without asking, you may find "no biking" signs posted and when you ask to ride then they may be unwilling to say yes.

  21. #21
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    I ride in southern Minnesota, about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities, where the snowmobile riding is hardly as good as on Minnesota's North Shore or in Michigan's U.P. There is a club here, and we do have a well marked and decently well maintained snowmo trail that I can pick up about a half mile from my house. I've searched the DNR's rules about the use of snowmobile trails (e.g., Google "minnesota snowmobiling laws" to find the main PDF) and not found anything that specifically prohibits others - runners, skiers, bikers - from using the trails. A number of fatbikers down here do ride on the snowmo trails, so I am following their lead!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tassava View Post
    I ride in southern Minnesota, about 45 minutes south of the Twin Cities, where the snowmobile riding is hardly as good as on Minnesota's North Shore or in Michigan's U.P. There is a club here, and we do have a well marked and decently well maintained snowmo trail that I can pick up about a half mile from my house. I've searched the DNR's rules about the use of snowmobile trails (e.g., Google "minnesota snowmobiling laws" to find the main PDF) and not found anything that specifically prohibits others - runners, skiers, bikers - from using the trails. A number of fatbikers down here do ride on the snowmo trails, so I am following their lead!
    I've contacted the MN DNR about that. All 22,000 miles of Grant in Aid Trails are prohibited to be used for anything besides snowmobiles. The state trails are recommended for snowmobiles only for safety reasons, but hiking, skiing, and cycling are not prohibited.

  23. #23
    bhc
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    I ride an hour north of Mpls. Tons of trails. One of them takes me right by the DNR building. I have seen workers outside, none have ever flagged me down to tell me to get off the trail.

    Like others have said, you hear them a long distance away. My schedule allows me to ride mid to late morning. Rarely ever see any snowmobiles during that time on week days. I stay off the trails on weekends.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by tbutter View Post
    I appreciate everyones feedback this is why I started the thread

    I'm glad to hear I'm not alone in this thinking

    As more things develop in my quest I will continue to keep you all updated
    Keep up the good work for us tbutter!! We have very limited winter riding here and being a new club poaching trails is just what we aren't about. It's funny how the silent sport community shuns us and bubba on the high powered snowmobile accepts us. Let me know if you need anything.

    Thanks again for taking this on....bOb
    And I love beer!!

  25. #25
    Owner Epic Biking
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    OK, I see private vs public. Nearly 80% of Utah is public land, so there are no shortage of public trails. There are some public trails that are groomed for skiers, but other than that the trails here should be good for fat bikes.
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