Fat bike enthusiasts have probably noticed there aren’t that many places around Seattle specifically designated for winter riding (in fact, Methow Valley may be the only area that openly welcomes fat bikes on their groomed trails – but you can’t exactly drive the four plus hours there every weekend). But don’t feel disheartened; in the conditions are right, there are still plenty of riding opportunities. When the temperature dips below zero, a fat bike can go pretty much anywhere a snowmobile has gone (just remember to bring your thermometer: it can take surprisingly little time for what was solid snowpack in the morning to turn to impassable slush in the afternoon).
What Makes It Great
The snowmobile trails at the Salmon La Sac Sno-Park, just northwest of the small town of Roslyn in the Cle Elum Valley, are a great place to get a day’s ride in. Only a 1.5-hour’s drive from Seattle, the sno-park’s 38 miles of snowmobile trails loop around the area and up to the 2,360-foot summit of Salmon La Sac itself. Enjoy riding through the pines and, on a clear day, the ethereal views of Mt. Rainier. But don’t get too lost in the fun: keep aware and remember to stay out of the way of the people who are equipped with a 100 horsepower sled. These trails are supposed to be for them, after all.
If you’d rather not contend with sharing the space with snowmobilers, on many winter days it’s also possible for fat bikes to easily ride on the John Wayne Iron Horse Trail. This route, which starts from the South Cle Elum Depot, includes a memorable section that crosses over the Columbia River on an old railroad bridge – a remnant of the Northern Pacific Coal Company. To see more evidence of coal mining’s past in the area, you can also bike the Coal Mine Trial in Cle Elum.
Who is Going to Love It
Fat bike fanatics who have been looking for a scenic place to ride that is day trip-able from Seattle.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Cle Elum, take Highway 903 / Salmon La Sac Road north for 16 miles. Turn right on Forest Road 4315, and the Sno-Park will be on your right.
A seasonal Sno-Park permit or day pass is required to park at the Salmon La Sac Sno-Park.
Fat bike rentals are available from the Northwest Bicycle Improvement company in Roslyn, about 15 miles from the Salmon La Sac Sno-Park, for $40/day.