There are a lot of ideas about how to groom a fat bike trail, and just as many crafty, hard-working bike nuts out there trying to perfect the art. The winter grooming formula is a mixture of machine, terrain, temperature, and temperament. 


H istorically a heavy frost, a few inches of snow, and ice on the trails meant that it was time to put away the two wheels and take out the planks for some winter gliding. But now, a blanket of snow and a heavy freeze just means beef up your tires, add some studs, and keep riding. What once was a bit of a niche in the biking world, is one of the fastest-spreading aspects of the sport: fat biking. It’s even become dangerously close to a mainstream sport, and it’s worth giving it a go if you haven’t already.

My first go at winter mountain biking was in the late 90s. I sat down with a Greg Stump skiing video in the background, a 12-pack of beer, a drill, and #6 sheet-metal screws; I was making studded tires. Up until that moment I had been a skier-snowboarder, so why would I be sitting inside, drinking cheap beer, with a bunch of screws? Well, it was an odd winter, there wasn’t much snow, and we had a huge midwinter rain event that flooded and froze everything in sight. Many in the MWV, and New England in general, know the exact event I am talking about. Even a Stump video couldn’t keep the stoke alive, and I had to get outside. 

My first attempt with no studs was painful. I was no match for the sheen of ice on the trails; even with studded tires, I was limited. I could only ride on something hard and frozen, like a snowmobile trail. In other parts of the country, there were others who were itching to get out in the winter on a bike. As with most things, there were crafty folks who started building goofy bikes, welding two rims together to make a wide rim for a fat tire … what a concept! But even with the studs, the tires sunk into the subpar skiing conditions, so obviously, floatation was the answer. And so, from there, frames for fat tires and all kinds of other parts started popping up. The game was on.

Now, fat bikes are easy to find and are becoming part of many bikers’ collection. No more nights with #6 metal screws and cheap brews needed to get outside, because now winter riding is a different experience. The crisp crunching of the snow under your tires and a slower pace that new fat bikes provide gives you the opportunity to tune in to your surroundings. Fat biking can mean a whole new world of adventure, or a massive workout if that’s the goal. We’re fortunate here in the North Country that even with wild and weird winters, we can have consistent snow cover on our trails. 

Having a packed or groomed track is ideal. When the sport started, snowshoe trails were a great place to ride, while snowmobile trails were okay, but you might ditch that to avoid a collision. Enter the crafty folks again—the groomers. There are a lot of ideas about how to groom a bike trail, and just as many crafty hard-working bike nuts out there trying to perfect the art. The grooming formula is a mixture of machine, terrain, temperature, and temperament. 

The folks who decide that winter biking is something fun to do with their spare time are generally bike nuts with some mechanical skills due to the temperamental nature of the machines. Such a nature is one of the aspects that makes winter biking different from biking on dirt trails. Constant maintenance is needed to keep the trails in rideable condition, and there are real costs involved. Machines are expensive and require maintenance, and most clubs benefit from those incredibly talented volunteers who run the machines as well as fix, modify, and perfect their craft. 

The universal foes to all groomers are post-holers. Post-holing is when a walker breaks through the groomed surface and leaves a deep hole. These are very difficult to groom out and they require new snow to fill them in. 

As this relatively new sport grows, perhaps some of its challenges will improve. Until then, the following article shows a few examples of some of the latest groomed opportunities here in the White Mountain region to explore this winter.  


NEMBA fatbiking grooming

The Mt. Washington Valley has a few areas that are groomed as conditions permit. With the exception of Whitaker Woods XC trails and Great Glen Trails, there are no fees for any of these networks. These areas are all maintained by local volunteers working with local MTB clubs (crowd-sourced mountain bike resources) that provide support for the grooming efforts. 

Marshall Conservation Area

NEMBA Marshal propert winter fat biking map

Marshall is a compact network on town property that is popular with locals and visitors to the MWV. Lucile’s, Lager’s, Muzzy’s, and Schumway are groomed regularly, with other trails added to the mix as conditions permit. Access is off of West Side Road in North Conway.

Eastside Network

The Eastside network is best accessed from the parking area at Hemlock Drive in North Conway behind Wal-Mart. There is quite a bit of activity on these trails, from walkers and snowshoers to snowmobilers and bikers. Trails that will be groomed as conditions permit are Pillar to Pond and Muffler. Other trails may be added as the season progresses. There is a lot of snowshoe traffic out in the area, and there are usually a lot of opportunities to ride trails that have been snowshoe-packed.

Rogers Crossing Network 

NEMBA fat bike trail map

Rogers Crossing is accessed off of Route 302 in Bartlett, between Attitash and Bear Peak. This network is fun, twisty, and flat alongside the Saco River. There are 5 to 10 miles of groomed trails in this area between Rogers Crossing and the fields of Attitash on private property. Please be respectful of the Nordic trails groomed by Bear Notch Ski Touring in Bartlett. They do not allow fat bikes on their trails.

Other Fat Nuggets

As conditions permit and volunteer ambitions allow, the base-groomed trails tend to expand, so you never know what could be ready to ride. The U.S. Forest Service has given permission to groom some trails in the Cedar Creek area that have not been previously groomed; so stay tuned, there may be more trail mileage added.

Current conditions are generally posted on local clubs’ social media, so dial into White Mountains NEMBA or Ride NoCo for the most current conditions. Remember that all of this is provided at no cost to riders by volunteers, so please be kind and respectful to everyone who makes this possible—from the clubs to the landowners and the volunteers. Donations are always deeply appreciated and help fund the fun.

Check out more NEMBA on their social channels – Facebook and Instagram



Ride NoCo winter fatbiking trail map grooming

The Ride NoCo Hurricane Zone network is a gravity-focused intermediate and advanced trail system in the Mt. Washington Valley. The network features over 8,000 vertical feet of summer descending; however, grooming for fat biking has been a new venture for the club. 

Current grooming efforts for the 2023/24 season are focused solely on the Hurricane Trail. When the grooming conditions align, this 700-vertical-foot, 1.1-mile descent is pure fat bike bliss. This then feeds into Red Tail Trail, where the winter grooming ends. The Red Tail Trail can be seen from across the brook from Hurricane Mountain Road. This totals just over 1,000 vertical feet of descending. The preferred winter access to the summit is up Hurricane Mountain Road, starting at the water tower. 

Foot and ski traffic help pack down Hurricane Mountain Road, and snowmobile traffic packs down the Black Cap Trail to the Hurricane Trail summit. To add additional length to the ride, follow the snowmobile trail to the summit of Black Cap for excellent views, then descend back to the Hurricane Trail Summit. 

Grooming is done with a combination of equipment, a traditional utility-type snowmobile, as well a Sno-Dog. As fat biking in the Hurricane Network gains popularity, the intention is to groom additional trails in the network. Winter signs have been posted on both the top and bottom of the groomed sections of trail. 

Please be respectful of all other trail users as well as the snow conditions. Grooming is a 100% volunteer effort. If you would like to support Ride NoCo, become a member, donate, or volunteer.  Follow Ride NoCo on social media for updates, as well as the conditions page on the website. 

Check out more Ride NoCo on their social channels – Facebook and Instagram


Bethlehem Trails fat biking BTA

Winter fat tire mountain biking is about to be taken to a new level at the Bethlehem Trails Association (BTA) in Bethlehem, NH. BTA is a community-driven trail network that offers over 14 miles of mountain biking trails. The trails are open to riders of all levels and are groomed for fat tire riding throughout the winter season.

BTA is located in the highest town in New England, which means that it receives a lot of snowfall during the winter months. BTA also has two pieces of grooming equipment, a Rokon and a Sno-Dog, to ensure that the trails are perfectly groomed for whenever weather conditions permit fat tire riding. In addition, for the first time, BTA has hired a person to groom trails throughout the winter. This commitment to grooming ensures that the trails are in top condition, making for an enjoyable and safe ride for all visitors.

Bethlehem Trails fat biking BTA winter grooming

Ready for winter, Bethlehem is a great place to go for winter fat biking. With over 14 miles of trails, riders of all levels can enjoy the beautiful scenery and challenging terrain. BTA’s commitment to providing the best possible experience for its visitors is evident in the quality of the trails and the recent acquisition of grooming equipment. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, BTA has something for everyone. 

Check out more about BTA on their social channels – Facebook and Instagram


COOS winter fat biking trails grooming map

Coös Trails in Gorham, NH has a small but cohesive winter riding area that can be accessed from several parking points in town. Local grooming efforts, in conjunction with existing snowmobile trails, provide great variety, and can take you all the way from Moose Brook State Park to Big Day Brewing with lots of adventure in-between.

Moose Brook State Park 

Moose Brook State Park riding is accessed most directly by parking at the campground office on Jimtown Road. The central corridor, called Berry Farm Road, is a lightly used snowmobile trail and makes for smooth climbing when conditions are good. From the top, you’ll find bike-specific grooming on CCC Perimeter East, Upper Borderline, and Deer Fly for a scenic and entertaining descent. Snowshoeing in the park is a popular local pastime, so you’ll often find additional riding on the lower section of CCC Perimeter West, Perkins Path, High Road, and Low Road, as well as a short-groomed loop on the Hub North property adjacent to the park. From the park base, you can access the rest of the winter riding by following Hinchey Trail (with an optional diversion around Lost Campground) to the Presidential Rail Trail and beyond.  

COOS winter fat biking trails grooming

Coös Trails Pine Side

The Pine Side of the network offers multiple climb/descent options and two easy access points for parking. The roadside lot along Route 2 West, just out of town, is a great place to begin a ride at the midway point of the network. Follow the snowmobile trail west a short distance to catch the Hinchey Trail and access Moose Brook State Park, or continue on to cross under Route 2 and jump on Old River Road. Alternatively, you will find ample parking at Big Day Brewing on Route 16 just south of Main Street. From there, follow the snowmobile trail and single track through the Jungle and up to the pipeline to access Howie Get There. Once in the network, options abound with any combination of Carry On, Alpine Spring, Biscoff, Old River Road, The Strand, and For Pete’s Sake. The newest addition to the network, Alpine Spring, can be linked with Bear Spring, a snowmobile trail that will ultimately return you to the pipeline at the western end of Howie Get There. 

The Coös Trails network has been 100% volunteer groomed since winter riding took hold up here around 2015. Grooming is tough work in all its forms. With bottomless gratitude for all the volunteer hours to date, the Coös Cycling Club has decided to start paying the groomers. It is still fee-free, but if you love winter riding, you can help out by heading to the website to donate. Cheers!

Follow the club on social media for the latest condition updates. Coös Cycling Club asks that you use good judgment with regard to temperatures and conditions when deciding to ride, and be vigilant when riding on snowmobile trails.

Check out more about the Coös Cycling Club on their social channels – Facebook and Instagram

For additional groomed fat biking options, visit these local Nordic centers:

• Great Glen Trails Outdoor Center (rentals available)

Fat biking at Great Glen Trails

• Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring

• Bretton Woods Nordic

• Purity Spring XC & Snowshoe Reserve

Fat Biking Tips & Etiquette 

Bike tires should be a minimum of 3.8” in width.

Tire pressure should be under 8 psi; 3-6 psi is usually ideal.

Please don’t ride your normal mountain bike on the trails.

If you are leaving a tire rut, the trail is too soft; try again once the temperature drops.

If you are a walker, please use snowshoes.

If you do not have snowshoes and you are leaving a track more than 1” deep, the trail is too soft for walking.

Bikers should yield to all other users. Bikes have brakes, skiers do not.

Be respectful to all fellow trail users—slow down and smile.

Fat bike lane—when using portions of XC trails, always ride on the opposite side from the classic ski tracks, and avoid the center of the trail on the skate ski track.

DO NOT ride in the classic XC tracks.

After grooming, allow time for the track to set-up. 

If you’re sinking an inch or more into a freshly groomed trail, turn around and give the trail a cold night to set up.