Exploring OUR Backyard: Fat Tire Snow Biking

In the latest edition of “Exploring OUR Backyard”, Alex Margulies takes you along for the ride on a snow biking tour above Lake Tahoe. (Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Mountain biking has long been a favorite outdoor activity in our community. But not very many people would think to hit the trails, especially up in the mountains, during the winter time.

Well - things have changed.

Fat tire snow biking is one of the fastest growing winter sports.

In the latest edition of "Exploring OUR Backyard," I'm going to take you along for the ride on a snow biking tour above Lake Tahoe.

"Fat tire biking is where it's at right now," said Ken Forsyth, owner of Cycle Path Bike Shop in Truckee, California.

"It sort of started in some of the colder climates like Minnesota and Alaska where you don't have a lot of options for winter sports," he said. "The snow biking thing got rolling there and now in these mountain communities more and more people are using them to commute on or just ride around on paved bike paths that get groomed in the winter time."

With Forsyth and Ken Long from Tahoe Mountain Guides leading the way, we got a full test run on a fat tire bike in one of the most scenic places possible -- cruising around the groomed trails provided by Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Tours on Highway 267 between Kings Beach and Truckee.

"We have found through trial and error, because this is somewhat of a new sport for us, it absolutely requires a semi-groomed path," Long said. "We have found that the snowmobiles make perfectly groomed terrain for us to ride on."

"Brockway Summit is well-known for snowmobiling but it's becoming a bit of a mecca for fat biking just because of the nice groomed trails, great views of the lake, especially on a beautiful day," Forsyth added.

You will quickly notice that even with the fatter tires and a groomed surface, it's not as easy as riding on a dirt surface.

"It's fun and there are some learning curves and there are some trial and errors that are going to be made but we're right there to help you through it," said Long. "Tahoe Mountain Guides has a strict philosophy - if it's not fun we don't do it, and you our guest is the only that is important."

At this point in the season -- with higher temperatures -- if you want to hit the snow trails, you will want to know the conditions. Avoid riding on a frozen surface, and you don't want it to be too soft either says Long.

"We're hitting it early in the morning before it turns into mashed potatoes. These bikes really become a lot of effort when it becomes too soft."

Compared to previous seasons, we were lucky to even be out riding in the snow this late in the snow season.

"The conditions this year have been phenomenal, were enjoying snow that we haven't seen for quite some time. Everyone is giddy," he said.

"There might be as good a place (as Lake Tahoe), but nothing is going to shadow what we've got back here. It's gorgeous, we get 250 days of sunshine a year. Normally we get lots of snow and this is the place to be."

After my tour with Ken and Greg, there's no doubt that they are dedicated to making this experience as great as possible for their guests.

"My favorite part is watching my guest smiling from ear-to-ear in discovery of this great sport," said Long.

The whole day didn't go off without a big time fail on my part. You can see at the video below. It was a rookie move on my part. Pro tip: don't slam on the brakes when you are going fast in the snow! Thankfully, like when you fall on skis, it doesn't hurt so bad!

Watch the video here.

I'll admit the whole experience was a little more challenging than I thought, but -- like with anything that's difficult in the outdoors, the reward at the end of the day is always worth it. Standing at the top of the hill, looking out over Lake Tahoe, there's no place I would rather be.

Another shining example of why I love my backyard!

If you are interested in trying out fat tire snow biking, Tahoe Mountain Guides is running a special through the end of the winter (conditions permitting). Full tour with equipment is only $89.

Head to their website at:

Coming up in April, on "Exploring OUR Backyard" we'll continue to showcase some of the most exciting outdoor activities that our area has to offer.

Upcoming stories

  • Thursday, April 14 - Alex Margulies and Gianna Giorgi go snowshoeing at Chickadee Ridge above Lake Tahoe
  • Thursday, April 28 - Alex Margulies and Bryan Samudio head to Pyramid Lake in search of the Lahontan cutthroat trout when they go ladder fishing with one of the area's experts
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