MT winter riding- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    MT winter riding

    hi all. this is my first winter in montana ( i moved to bozeman in june) and now that the snow is on the ground i keep hearing that the riding season is over and there's too much snow on the trails to be able to ride. i feel like there has to be somewhere to ride during the winter even if it requires a 2-3 hour drive.... something you could do once a month or so. do you guys have any suggestions for winter riding destinations? i'm considering heading to moab over thanksgiving and i really hope that's not my last ride until april.

  2. #2
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    I live a few hours south of you. I don't have a snowbike (YET) and can ride a good chunk of the winter. Just find a popular area where people are walking their dogs or whatever and following the singletrack. The hikers pack the snow down enough to ride, especially true in low snow years. We will see what La Nina brings this year.

  3. #3
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    i kind of figured that would be the case (packed snow), but they guys i work with make it sound like once there's snow on the trails it's impossible to ride here. I'm from the east coast so i've never really had to deal with snow in the mountains.... conditions were the same everywhere. but i've been told that's not the case here. i guess i'll have to go check out a few trails and see for myself. seems like a warm enough day regardless of the falling snow.....

  4. #4
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    Moad or Spokane

  5. #5
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    One can ride the town trails year around with studded tires. Usually Pipestone can be ridden until mid winter, sometimes longer. There may be riding in the Billings areas all winter. Our biggest challenge beside the snow is either extreme cold or gumbo mud. Most of the trails outside of Bozeman have soil with large amounts of clay. It's just best to stay off of them unless they are frozen hard. The trails are easy to damage when wet. Snowbikes with fat tires are starting to be more common, and after a while people will determine where it's best to go. Snowbikes will open up new worlds. Rural roads should be good to ride as long as they are frozen. But the people who have been around the longest will tell you to find a winter sport. We have great alpine skiing and long distance skating, hockey, cross-country skiing.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  6. #6
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    depending on the season (i.e. fluky warm weather for 2 weeks in January) you can *normally* ride pipestone for a session or two sometime or other.

    This makes me wonder about lewis and clark cavern trails as well -- though L&C are notoriously sensitive to wet riding erosion.

    I've often thought you should be able to find some forest service riding somewhere North of the interstate en route to Billings (Big Timber lower elevation?)

    In BZN if you found a well packed snowshoe trail it'd probably make for decent riding, but more likely to encounter xc trails on most of the common sense routes.

  7. #7
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    thanks for all the input everyone.

    i haven't done any riding outside of the hyalite and bridger areas.... i'll have to check out pipestone at some point. in the meantime i guess i'll just keep watching this forum and see if decent riding is posted here.

    i've been told by a few people to find a winter sport. most of the guys i know in town are skiiers, so that's what i'll be doing to pass the winter along with building up a DH rig.

  8. #8
    beater
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    Yeah, you have a short season down there. If you live in Bozeman, you'd better ski. With BB on your back door, there's no excuse not to. Up here in Helena our trails are still dry for now, although the forecast for this week looks wet. It's not impossible to ride the Scratchgravel Hills in winter, as they don't get as much precip and in a dry winter they're an option. I've got my fingers crossed to go from dry to 1-2 feet so I can transition straight into XC touring.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive
    Yeah, you have a short season down there. If you live in Bozeman, you'd better ski. With BB on your back door, there's no excuse not to. Up here in Helena our trails are still dry for now, although the forecast for this week looks wet. It's not impossible to ride the Scratchgravel Hills in winter, as they don't get as much precip and in a dry winter they're an option. I've got my fingers crossed to go from dry to 1-2 feet so I can transition straight into XC touring.
    Helena is an hour and half drive from Bozeman.
    I rode Scratchgravel year round last year, even in the snow. While the roads have been recently closed to motorized traffic, people ignore that and drive on them like they always have. It packs down a nice double track for winter riding.

  10. #10
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    what rides are there in the scratchgravels?

    is it an out and back on the (not quite closed) road, or is there any singletrack to speak of?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Rider
    what rides are there in the scratchgravels?

    is it an out and back on the (not quite closed) road, or is there any singletrack to speak of?
    The Scratchgravels are basically a maze of old double track jeep trails. There are single track trails, too, but they won't be ridable in the middle of winter. There are several different access points to the trail system. You can ride for hours making your own loops and figure 8's or whatever.

  12. #12
    Mountain Hippie
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    Billings is fun. Plus they have a few breweries.

  13. #13
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    are there any maps or info out there for scratchgravels? directions to access points? the only times i leave bozeman are to head down to the park or somewhere else out of state. aside from the bozeman area and granite peak, i haven't seen montana. and what about the billings area for maps?

    i'm by no means opposed to riding in snow. obviously i'm not going to be able to ride in a lot of snow, but a few inches is manageable.

    thanks again guys.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by stn112
    are there any maps or info out there for scratchgravels? directions to access points? the only times i leave bozeman are to head down to the park or somewhere else out of state. aside from the bozeman area and granite peak, i haven't seen montana. and what about the billings area for maps?

    i'm by no means opposed to riding in snow. obviously i'm not going to be able to ride in a lot of snow, but a few inches is manageable.

    thanks again guys.
    http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=...53637&t=h&z=13

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en...5fa21&t=h&z=14

    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en...76818&t=h&z=14

    There are a couple maps. The first one is just a generic location when I googled it. The other two are some loops that I mapped at one point. The last link is the race course loop for the Unravel the Scratchgravel race which happens in May every year. The main access points from the west side of town are via Head Lane and Echo Drive. From the North side of town the access is Norris Rd and Tumbleweed Drive.

    During winter the whole length of those routes will not be ridable. And if they enforce no motorized vehicles, even less of them will be. But like we have mentioned, Scratchgravels are known for being drier than the surrounding area.

  15. #15
    rth009
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    The Rimrock trails in Billings are the best Ive found for winter riding in MT, although it too will probably be unrideable from Mid-December through February. There's plenty of gravel once you get east of Livingston, but you gotta make sure its frozen.

    Like the other Montanans who have posted, I recommend cross-country skis and alpine skis or a snowboard, especially if this winter is like the last couple we've had.

  16. #16
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    I second the x-country ski and snowboarding. Ride a stationary to be ready for spring. I'm going to hit Moab early April maybe to get a jump on the season.

  17. #17
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    when i lived in alaska. the best winter riding was a cold snap after a warm up. That would pretty much pinch the snow right up and you could ride anywhere. hill climb etc. The swamps where pretty cool that way. It was best from -10 to 20. I did do a ride at -20 below and you didn't sweat or warm up.

    also check out your local snowmobile trails. if the temps are in the teens and lower the groomed trails will be rock hard and easy peddaling.

    or you can always find a winter sport. winters are long up here.

  18. #18
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    South Cottonwood Trail seens to be very doable when it's cold. It gets so much foot traffic that the snow is packed well. With a set of fat studded tires, and cold temps,it should be a fun ride. I've seen someone riding out while I was pulling into the trailhead.

    I've riddenn Sourdough in the winter, with my studded tires. It was fun - but not as fun as snowboarding.

  19. #19
    SamIAm
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    i hike-a-bike up mt helena sometimes and then dont have to deal with the pedaling up. but other than that or scratch might as well get a board/sticks and ride pow.
    <(*-*<) Go Ride (>*-*)>

  20. #20
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    i've been wondering about south cottonwood.... might have to check that out sometime soon. also considering a trip to moab this weekend. i guess we'll see what the weather brings. everyone i know in town only talks skiing, so it's inevitable that i'll get into that, but i have my doubts as i've done plenty of it back east. i'm told it's entirely different out here, but i'll be finding out without a doubt.

    sure, there are things to pass the time... but all i really want to do is ride.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208
    when i lived in alaska. the best winter riding was a cold snap after a warm up. That would pretty much pinch the snow right up and you could ride anywhere. hill climb etc. The swamps where pretty cool that way. It was best from -10 to 20. I did do a ride at -20 below and you didn't sweat or warm up.

    also check out your local snowmobile trails. if the temps are in the teens and lower the groomed trails will be rock hard and easy peddaling.

    or you can always find a winter sport. winters are long up here.
    Yeah, the Nord skiers call that 'crust cruising'. Can be a quasi magical deal if you happen to hit it right. You can skate ski anywhere.. and where the terrain is just right, you can go waay up canyons and get high altitude. It's rare, and god help you if it gets too warm and the crust goes south. I'd imagine once in a blue moon you could have the time of your life on a fat bike... point and shoot... winter slick rock.

    -Schmitty-

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