Your soon-to-be favourite winter sport.
In the spring, summer and fall, South Eastern Ontario offers endless road cycling adventures. Bike-friendly communities, combined with thousands of kilometres of quiet highways allow you to explore the region at your leisure. Of course, once the snow begins to fall, cyclists tuck their bikes away for the winter (and then begin counting down the days until spring).
Fat biking will have you looking at winter cycling in a whole new way. Once a fringe sport, fat biking gives winter warriors a way to explore on two wheels year-round! Manufacturers have continually improved a fat bike’s geometry and components: they’re lighter, more rugged and frames come in a range of sizes. Everything about a fat bike’s design – wide rims, hydraulic brakes, lower crossbar and handlebars – lends itself to comfortable riding along snowy trails.
The reason fat biking in the winter is so much fun is obvious: those massive tires. Sure, you can ride a fat bike in the sand or on a muddy and sandy trail. But it’s in the snow where you really appreciate them. Acting as the bike’s built-in suspension system, riders practically float over navigate snowy, icy and bumpy terrain.
The growth of fat biking in the province is attributed to two things: the commitment by communities to improve their local trails, and the interest of consumers in winter adventure-based experiences.
There also seems to be interest in taking fat bikes out on frozen water, which is a pretty unique experience and encouraging. Ontario certainly has endless amounts of ‘Hard Water Cycling’ to offer! (although this winter’s mild temperatures have limited ice biking opportunities).
What To Wear
You’ll need your helmet, gloves, sweat-wicking base layer, windproof outer layer and a pair of sturdy hiking/ winter boots. Add a pair of gaiters (think: snow-busting legwarmers) too. You’ll work up a sweat, so be prepared to peel off a layer or two once you’ve been riding for a while.
Where To Go Riding
The best thing about fat biking is that you can point your wheel in any direction and ride throughout South Eastern Ontario. That said, fat biking is not permitted on the trails at Frontenac Provincial Park or at Sandbanks Provincial Park. Due to the sensitive nature of the dunes at Sandbanks Provincial Park, fat biking is restricted on the beaches and dunes.
This 103-kilometre trail covers a variety of terrain, with the Canadian Shield, Frontenac Axis and peaceful farmland as your picture-perfect backdrop. You’ll share the trail with skiers, hikers and snowmobilers, as well as deer, rabbits, birds and foxes! Access points and trail maps throughout the region make this flat route perfect for beginners. cateraquitrail.ca
At 15 kilometers long, Kingston’s K&P Trail packs a scenic punch. Stretching from just near the Cataraqui Creek to Orser Road, you’ll enjoy rugged rock cuts and pretty wetlands. Six access points and well-marked trails make this a local favourite.
Once a railway, this trail in Prince Edward County is a great way to get used to a fat bike’s handling. Stretching 49 kilometres between Carrying Place and Picton, you can start and end your adventure at one of the 6 access points.
Just north of Kingston is a spectacular trail system maintained by volunteers from local bike club MTB Kingston. Guests can ride the trail system if they’re riding with a club member, have completed the required paperwork, and are wearing a helmet. Trail conditions are updated frequently on their website. mtbkington.ca
Potter’s Creek in Belleville is the ideal place to head if you’ve rented a bike from Ideal Bike (the trails are an easy 5-kilometer ride from the shop). The tree-lined trails protect you from the wind, making this Conservation Area great for beginners. Scenic Macauley Mountain is a favourite destination for fat bikers vacationing in The County.
Cataraqui Region Conservation Areas.
Though most of the trails in these Kingston and Brockville conservation areas are closed for the winter, cyclists can still head to Little Cataraqui (north of Kingston) and Lemoine’s Point (in Kingston). At Little Cat, cycling is discouraged on the track-set cross-country ski trails, but you can still enjoy a scenic ride on the plowed service roads. At Lemoine’s Point, enjoy the views as you pedal through this urban gem (just stick to the marked cycling trails).