Since the inception of fat biking in Marquette around 2010, Tyler Gauthier has been a part of the ever-growing scene. Gauthier began as a mountain biker with the Range Area Mountain Bike Association, a non-profit which inspires people to mountain bike and live healthier lives in 2005. He now serves as president of RAMBA and coordinator for Fat-ISH, a winter celebration of Ishpeming’s groomed trails. He knows what trails to hit with a fat bike, or as he calls it, a snow bike.
The best snow biking in the country comes down to Marquette County. I don’t just say this as a local, but rather because of the expertise, options, terrain, and passion the community has for it. Marquette Co. is a leader in fat bike grooming and has helped develop methods and devices specifically for fat bike grooming that has made the trails consistently the best on most occasions. When I first started riding, groomed trail was hit or miss but now it is almost guaranteed to have well-groomed/rideable trails. Riders take this for granted, but it’s not to be expected. This is especially true because out of most fat biking destinations, we receive the most snowfall to keep up with. Marquette Co. offers “panked” (packed down) rock riding in the Harlow Lake area, flow riding on the Noquemanon Trail Network’s North Trails, consistent elevation flow on the NTN’s South trails, and undulating terrain with history on the RAMBA trails.
Degree / Difficulty
❄️ Harlow Lake Area - Expert because the trail is narrow, climbs are difficult, and the surface is unpredictable.
❄️ North Trails - Beginner because it is well maintained, has a lot of traffic, incredible sights, and favorable low-grade terrain.
❄️ South Trails - Experienced/Novice riders because hills and terrain are a bit more difficult and loops are longer, but conditions are consistent.
❄️ RAMBA - Beginner/Experienced: Terrain is very favorable and conditions are most always rideable because they are so well maintained.
Distance + Elevation
The North Trails - Include over 30 miles of singletrack that follow the Dead River. Begin at one of the three North Trail trailheads located in town: the BLP, Forestville and Tourist Park
The South Trails - Include 45 miles of singletrack. Bikers can ride flow trails and take in scenic views of waterfalls along the way.
Harlow Lake Area - Be prepared to climb to take in the incredible vistas Hogback, Sugarloaf, Top of the World, and Bareback on this ride. Most of the trails are built on rock outcrops with technical climbs and steep downhills.
RAMBA - Offers a 9-mile main loop and a 5-mile additional loop. The main loop is less than 500 feet of elevation gain and the 5-mile loop will provide about 500-1000 feet of elevation gain. Depending on the conditions, snow amount, and weather, you may find additional bonus loops in the system.
One Word of Advice
Keep an eye on the NTN and RAMBA Facebook pages for trail condition reports. It’s best to check before you ride. The best time to hit a trail is when temperatures are at their lowest and sub 30 degrees. This usually provides the most enjoyable experience. But the most ideal conditions are when there are bluebird skies and low 20 degree temperatures. Dress so that you are cold in the first 10 minutes of your ride. If you are hot within the first minute or two, you are overdressed and will be uncomfortable the remainder of your ride. Most importantly, keep your hands, feet, and core warm.
Local Rentals & Retailers
We have incredible bike shops in Marquette County. Each of these bike shops rent snow bikes and the appropriate equipment:
Quick Stop Bike Shop
Sports Rack of Marquette
West End Ski & Trail