Fat Bikes, Riding on Gallatin National Forest

Bozeman, MT– Fat Bikes, may be one of the quicker growing recreational trends on the Gallatin National Forest during the winter months, known as pedal bikes with large frames and large tires designed for flotation and stability on snow, Fat Bikes are welcome on any route on the Gallatin National Forest that is not part of our marked or groomed snowmobile or ski trail system and that is normally open to bicycles. 

            Fat Bike riders do need snow compaction in order to ride their bikes; so the recreation staff on the Forest created a suggested list of routes that are legal for use across the Gallatin National Forest and within a closer drive to Bozeman. 

Currently, the Gallatin National Forest’s Travel Management Plan Decision (2006) prohibits all wheeled vehicles of any type from traveling on National Forest marked or groomed winter trail systems (including snowmobile and ski trails).  This decision pre-dated the common occurrence of fat bikes and the growing trend.             

The Forest plans to review the potential for accommodating this growing popular recreation activity in the future.  However, travel plan amendments take into account many considerations including safety and potential trail damage along with involving considerable time, effort and are a public process; as such there are many unknowns at this time to what administrative changes could take place.

Official winter travel routes are shown on the free Gallatin National Forest Over Snow Vehicle Use Map, available at District offices across the Gallatin N.F. and online at www.fs.usda.gov/gallatin or on your smart device with the new Avenza PDF map tool.  With Avenza PDF you can download geo-referenced pdf files of Gallatin Visitor Maps, Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUM) and soon, our Gallatin Over Snow Vehicle Map.  Visit your iTunes or Google Play store to download the app, on your smart device.

Potential Fat Bike routes that likely have snow compaction and may be desirable for riders, close to Bozeman include: 

  • West Side of the Bridgers including:  Sypes Canyon (Trail #531), Truman Gulch (Trail #535), Middle Cottonwood (Trail #586),  the Bridger Foothills trails (#534), Johnson and Felix Canyon Road systems (Roads 2514 and 2512).
  • Potential Routes in the Gallatin Range include:  Porcupine Creek (Trail #34), Twin Cabin (Trail #46), Porcupine Meadows (Trail #199), Main Hyalite(Trail #42), Leverich Canyon (Trail #435), Chestnut Mountain (Trail #458), and the West Pine Creek and Dry Creek road systems in the north west end of the Paradise Valley (Roads 978 and 2613).
  • Around West Yellowstone routes include:  Beaver Creek Road #985, Taylor Fork Road #134, Denny Creek Road #167, and Contour Road #1718. 


All of these routes may be somewhat compacted by other trail users and snowmobiles, but are not official winter routes. 

- FS -