I was going to call this article, “Fat Tires? Fat Chance.” And well, if you’re into winter fat tire biking you’re options in the Devil’s Lake State Park area are pretty slim.
For the last couple of years, fat tire biking has become a hot trend in outdoor recreation. When it comes to promoting the sport, even the Wisconsin Department of Tourism has gotten in the act. You may not go very fast with those big balloon tires, but you can pretty much go anywhere… And in all seasons! It’s no surprise that I get regular emails asking what trails were available.
Well, I’ve reached out to everyone I could find in the area from local businesses to the state & county parks officials to see exactly what was out there. Right now it looks like there are 2 choices and neither is ideal.
Fat bikes are allowed on the 22 miles long Wisconsin State 400 Trail which starts in Reedsburg, WI, (About 15 minutes north-west of the Park). This “rail-to-trail” option isn’t bad, but riders do need to realize that they will be interacting with snowmobiles. We’ve got a map and general info posted here. The upside to the 400 trail is that its rural location means wildlife encounters are common. As a former railway, there is almost no grade to speak of either. Note that trail passes are required and run around $5 per bike per day or $20 per year. Purchasing one this time of year might take a little effort. Contact Wildcat Mountain State Park for more information or visit The Official 400 Trail Website.
Another option is the newly designated bike “trails” at the Sauk County Recreation Area just south of Devil’s Lake.These are basically abandoned roads. The problem here is that the only access to these trails is not maintained in winter, so getting out there is not always possible. Click here for a property map.
Beyond these two locations, there was just nothing out there. The upside is that everyone I spoke with certainly saw the need and hoped we’d get there.
Devil’s Lake State Park’s Steinke Basin loop has now re-designated for “multi-use” in the winter but still does not allow for fat bike use.
The Baraboo Hills & Devil’s Lake State Park region has a long way to go when it comes to cycling in general. While it’s great to see the new “Great Sauk Trail” moving right along, we also see a lot of room for growth. We still don’t have a solid single-track bike trail in the area which is a bit of a shock in such an ideal location as the Baraboo Hills. The city of Baraboo also lacks any sort of cohesive and safe bike lane network through the city. (I’ve always felt families should easily be able to bike from Devil’s Lake to Downtown Baraboo for lunch, shopping or whatever on proper, safe bike lanes.) Even county roads popular with cyclists such as Hwy 113 east of the park need a rethink where safety is concerned. It’s my hope that in the coming years we will do more to accommodate not just fat bikes, but cycling in general which of course is another important part of our future in outdoor recreation.
If you know of any locations I may have missed open for winter fat bikes, just comment below or zip me out an email.