There are some good options for fat biking in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. This winter is only the my second winter with a fat bike, so I’m only beginning to explore. Because my speed and distance are lower right now, my fat bike rides have been closer to home. This has given me the opportunity to check out local multi-use paths and trails.
I live close the Grand River and the Walter Bean trail can be good for fat biking. I’ve ridden these trails in all four seasons, including the middle of winter immediately after a snow fall. The paved section of trail near RIM Park gets a lot of foot traffic to pack down the snow, but as long as it’s not icy, this trail can be fun to ride. Heading south on the Walter Bean trail through Kiwanis Park is also good for fat biking in winter. This gravel path is a favourite on gravel rides and in winter, fat bikes can explore both on and off the trail (watch for narrower trails through the woods in Kiwanis Park, behind the leash-free dog park). After a brief detour through a neighbourhood, the trail picks up again along the Grand River, past the Scout Camp. At the end of this trail, there’s a steep little hill that takes you to a dirt road that leads down to the roundabout at Bridge St and Lancaster Road. The Grand River trail continues off of Lancaster along the Grand River and you’ll wind your way down to Bingeman’s Park. This part of the trail is hillier and depending on snow conditions, you may have to hike-a-bike. Past Bingeman’s, you can continue under the bridge at Highway 7, past a couple of ponds and through and industrial area before hitting the GRT again. This will take you along the river towards the Fairway St. Bridge where you can continue towards Chicopee.
Another great fat biking spot is The Hydrocut. It’s very popular the rest of the year, but it’s been gaining attention for winter riding. There’s no grooming other than pedestrian traffic and other cyclists. After a snow fall, the singletrack (and the double track loop) can be a blast. Trails can get icy from the freeze/thaw cycles that we frequently get, so be careful. Also, in those winter warm spells, make sure to check out www.thehydrocut.ca to see if the trails are opened or closed.
The GORBA trails in Guelph aren’t exactly in the Region of Waterloo, but the trail crew there does a great job for winter riding. They mark out a winter loop (this winter, it’s called the Von Dehn/GORBA winter loop) and each time a GORBA member rides this loop over the winter, they’re entered into a draw for prizes in March. I rode there once last winter, but haven’t made it out this year.
Another great mountain bike/fat bike spot is the Puslinch trail system. I’ve ridden there a lot over the years, but always in spring/summer/fall. The trails there are more technically challenging, with rooty uphills and downhills. A lot of my friends ride there in winter. There’s a good network of technical singletrack as well as some good doubletrack as well.
And finally, I’ve explored the local trails around my house. The Cities of Kitchener and Waterloo are trying to develop a connected network of trails. These can be fun in winter.
One last thing … When I’m riding community and multi-use trails, I always have a bell on. Pedestrians can be spooked if you whiz by them without warning, and it’s simple courtesy to let them know you’re approaching.