Out & About: Area sport trails examine fat biking

Fat bikes take advantage of huge low-pressure tires.
Fat bikes take advantage of huge low-pressure tires.

OUTPEDAL – The Methow Valley Sport Trails Association is opening portions of its 120-mile groomed nordic trail system to bicycles.

Skiers headed out on a few trails with enough snow for grooming this week. In addition, several trails will be opened to “fat bike” enthusiasts who rely on mountain bikes with oversized low-pressure tires for traction and buoyancy on snow.

“We are piloting fat biking with our eyes and ears wide open,” said James DeSalvo, MVSTA executive director. 

“We believe we can manage fat biking use so that it has no greater impact to our trail platform than that of our traditional skiing public,” he said, adding that feedback would guide the future of the program.

Snow bike rentals will be offered in Winthrop at Methow Cycle and Sport.

Mount Spokane State Park rangers were scheduled to meet with fat bike enthusiasts this weekend to explore the potential for winter biking routes in the park.

Schweitzer Ski Area also is looking into allowing snow bikes, but only bikes rented on the mountain.

Sno-Park users pay their way

OUTGOING – Mount Spokane is one of about 120 Washington Sno-Park Areas that require a state Sno-Park permit in vehicles during winter. Permit fees go into a dedicated fund to pay for trail grooming, equipment and plowing snow off the parking areas.

This program funded the park’s new $270,000 snowcat groomer for the nordic ski trails.

“There’s no general fund, State Parks or Discover Pass money involved,” said Pamela McConkey, State Parks winter recreation program coordinator.

The winter recreation program is divided into a motorized section mostly for snowmobiling and a nonmotorized section geared mostly to skiing and snowshoeing.

The nonmotorized winter program has a $1.3 million budget this season funded by grants and the sale of 26,400 Sno-Park permits, she said.

The motorized program’s $2 million budget is funded by grants, a portion of the state gas tax and 28,400 snowmobile registrations purchased last season.

“The program is completely supported by the users,” McConkey said. “We get lucky sometime and get grants, but that’s never guaranteed.”

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