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Fatbikes on Cross-Country Ski Trails: Kingdom Trails in Vermont

Thu, Jan  23, 2014 - By Andrew White

Last fall, when Traverse Area Recreational Trails (TART) announced that the VASA trail would be open to snow bike users one day a week, they informed us that the Kingdom Trail Association in Vermont was also opening their Nordic ski trails to fatbike use when conditions permit.

As a former long time Vermont resident I am familiar with the Kingdom Trails. Like our Vasa Pathway, this is a very popular system of mountain bike trails, partly on state and partly on private land. In the winter, parts of their system, as here, are groomed for cross-country skiing. Theirs are beautiful, immaculately groomed trails: current Olympic Team member Ida Sargent’s parents live not far away, and this is her home course.

Fatbike at Kingdom Trails in Vermont. Photo from Kingdom Trails

Fatbike at Kingdom Trails in Vermont. Photo from Kingdom Trails

I’ve been curious how the Kingdom Trails policy was working out and so this week I gave the Kingdom Trail Association a call. I learned that in fact fat bikes are no longer permitted at all on their groomed nordic ski trails. This, I was told, was not because they had had trouble with trail damage from fatbikes (they said that under the proper conditons they did absolutely no damage). Instead they want to provide the best experience possible for their Nordic skiers. So now they also maintain trails for fat bikes, by packing single track trails, with snowmobiles or snowshoes. Some of these trails are intermingled with their dedicated nordic ski trails and so cross them occasionally.

I was told that this was working out very well for all concerned. So I hope for a similar management approach from the Department of Natural Resources here in Michigan.