Outdoors is open year-round in Montana. Regular cyclists and maybe some mountain bikers might consider snow and ice as tricky territory. But there are plenty of year-round adventurers who see the colder months as yet another angle on hitting the trails.
Biking in the snow is a different kind of adventure altogether, and Montana offers plenty of that. Snowbiking is a fantastic way to cover some winter terrain, whether you want fresh mountain air or a snow-packed road or trail.
‘Fat’ bikes have extra-wide tires and are a popular option for getting out in snowy road and trail conditions. The wide tires with reasonably low pressure allow more of a gliding sensation than the heavy sinking that comes with thinner wheels.
Fat biking tends to work best on either snow or sand, it is the top choice of bicycle for those looking to experience snowbiking in Montana and the sights on offer. Undeniably, Fat biking is gaining more exposure and experiencing growing popularity as a winter activity.
The endless miles of trails in Montana make it a potential snow-bikers dream. But it pays to do some homework first and look at some of the known and recommended areas.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best snowbiking in Montana firstly by general region and then in more detail.
Guide to Snowbiking in Montana
Two of the Best Areas in Montana for Snow Biking
If we are really trying to narrow things down here and we are we’d have to say that two of the best main areas in Montana for snow biking have to be Whitefish and Missoula.
Both places are failsafe in terms of finding terrain to meet a range of requirements. They are also in the vicinity of Glacier Country so if you aren’t bringing your own bike you can easily find a rental from a bike shop or outfitter.
Renting a Bike and Extra Fees
Many of the local bike shops can set you up for a fat bike adventure and ensure you are heading in the right direction with a few safety pointers to hand. There may be certain conditions under which riding is discouraged or is not even possible which they should be aware of.
The trails can potentially be damaged and fat biking is not permitted on many groomed cross-country ski trails. Anyone resident in Montana pays $20 per 2-season trail pass, while out-of-towners need a $35.00 Temporary use permit from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department.
Top 6 Spots for Snowbiking in Montana
1. Whitefish Bike Retreat
The Whitefish Bike Retreat offers access to lodgings and a campground. The location is along the Whitefish Trail.
This little spot also happens to be in the Beaver Lake area eight miles west of Whitefish, and it features close to 20 acres of wilderness. Those more interested in the immediate surroundings than the indoor lodgings will find a mile or so of groomed packed trail ideal for snow biking.
This somewhat amazing 2-mile round trip flows and winds its way in the direction of the Whitefish Trail and the Beaver Lake Recreation Area road. This is a largely wooded and easy-going route for which riders need to sign in at the WBR office where fat bike rentals are also available.
On-site parking is available for day use, and the retreat can be accessed along Highway 93, heading north toward Eureka for 7 miles. There’s a right onto Beaver Lake Road soon after, and another mile or so along this road will bring you to Whitefish Bike Retreat.
2. The Whitefish Trail
The expanding radius of this trail just outside Whitefish has enough scope to suit anyone looking for slightly more advanced-level stuff.
This is really more of a network of trails, and it allows access to the popular 3-mile Beaver Lake Loop from the Beaver Lake Trailhead or the Whitefish Bike Retreat.
For detailed directions and information regarding The Whitefish Trail’s trailheads, look HERE.
3. Beaver Lake Recreation Area
This area around the lake provides access to trail terrain for different levels and covers various distances.
Accessible from Whitefish along Highway 93, the Beaver Lake Area consists of more than 12 miles of gravel roads covered with packed-down ice and snow from local traffic.
If the roads are not yet packed-down enough to permit biking there’s also a groomed trail alongside the road that comes courtesy of local volunteers.
4. Round Meadow
Round Meadow forms part of a National Forest trail system. It contains four trails, in particular, that may be of interest to anyone snow biking in the region and they range from easy to intermediate in terms of difficulty level.
Unfortunately, fat bikers aren’t allowed on cross-country ski tracks. Thus the only available routes are those along the side of the groomed trails. Sorry, skiers get the middle lane here.
From Whitefish take Highway 93 north again to this spot by way of the Round Meadow sign.
5. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness
For an easy trip across variable round-trip distances, fat bikers can find some space to ride down the main stem of the Rattlesnake.
There’s usually enough foot traffic in this region to see the surfaces packed down, but there will be some parts of the trail that are groomed and thus closed off from fat bikes.
6. Blackfoot Corridor Twin Creeks
If Missoula has any trail system groomed for fat biking then this is it. This trail is open to the public across to the east of town and is another volunteer-run grooming effort.
Some of the terrains here are better suited to anyone considering themselves able to handle more advanced landscapes.
You can get here by heading east from Missoula on Montana Highway 200. For detailed directions and information regarding Blackfoot Corridor Twin Creeks, look HERE.
Snowbiking In Montana – The Bottom Line
It is undeniable that Montana offers amazing outdoor activities all year round in all regions of the state, yet when it comes to snowbiking in Montana there are two hot spots you will want to plan your trip around.
Thankfully, the industry around snowbiking in Montana is thriving, and even if you don’t have a fat bike of your own, you can easily rent one from one of the many outfitters in Missoula or Whitefish where you find the most trails.