Teton Valley, on the west slope of the Tetons, has one of the country’s most vibrant fat biking scenes. This is in large part to Andy Williams, Grand Targhee Ski & Summer Resort’s Manager of Special Events and Summer Trails. The winter of 11/12, Williams had the foresight to allow fat bikes on the resort’s 15 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails. Winter 14/15, Targhee is one of the first (if not the first) to offer groomed singletrack trails for fat bikers. Meet the Jolly Green Giants trail.
What Makes It Great
Fat bikes have hard frames—no suspension on the front or rear forks—and tires that are close to four-inches in diameter. If they’re not familiar with them, people who see one being ridden around can’t help but stop and stare. They look like the younger brother of a Mars rover. To accommodate tires that big, the frames have wide forks; don’t just think you can take your mountain bike frame and throw tank- wheels and tires on it. They won’t fit.
It is thanks to their oversized rims and tires that these bikes stay on top of groomed cross-country skiing trails and snowmobile tracks. Rims and tires that big give the bikes floatation. A fat bike’s floatation is also helped by not inflating the tires as much as you do other bike tires. Five P.S.I. is usual for a fat bike on snow; mountain bike tires are usually inflated to between 25 and 35 P.S.I.; road bike tires have pressure upwards of 100 P.S.I. (Fat bikes don’t have so much flotation you can take off into powder with them though; they need a groomed base.)
With the addition of the new singletrack trails, Targhee now has upwards of 25k of fat biking trails. Because fat biking is condition-dependent—the bikes ruin the tracks when the snow is mushy—every day Targhee’s snow report includes a note as to whether trails are open to fat bikes.
We haven’t yet ridden any of the new singletrack trails, but when there’s so little fat biking singletrack around, isn’t any fat bike singletrack good singletrack? Popular in the Midwest for a couple of years, fat bike singletrack has been made more widely available recently with greater options in grooming equipment. A manufacturer in West Yellowstone makes fat biking specific groomers that can be pulled by snowmachines, which is the type Targhee uses for its singletrack trails.
Of the big, buffed Nordic lanes—there are also classic tracks set—we love the lollipop ride that includes Rick’s Basin via Quakie Ridge Loop. It’s an out and back for the first few kilometers and then you can do a nearly-five-k loop before heading back to the main Nordic Center. This ride is gently rolling and will get you about four hundred feet of elevation gain.
Who is Going to Love It
The Hamster Loop is only 1.5 kilometers and is the most beginner-friendly ride around.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Grand Targhee Ski Resort is located at 3300 Ski Hill Rd., Alta, WY 83414.