A “family of fatties” makes their way to Thompsonville for a day of fun, wintry biking. Explore the three Crystal Mountain fat tire biking trails they took + tips for your trip.
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We waited almost too late in the season to go—and we were left wanting more, which made it all the sweeter. It was the first weekend in March before we ventured out to Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville to try their fat bike trails. Late, but not too late!
I took my own fat bike and my husband and two sons, ages 16 and 18, rode rentals. It was noon on a Sunday and the sun was out. The snow was melting, making its final rather icy exit off the backwoods trails, while the downhill ski trails still flourished in the distance.
“We should have come sooner!” I said about a hundred times. The boys ignored me, content regardless of the conditions. Or should I say, fearless regardless of the conditions. We headed out, I made lots of noise about being careful, and they popped wheelies on the stretch of paved road running through the resort as we made our way to the trails.
Photo by Kandace Chapple
Explore Crystal Mountain’s Fat Tire Biking Trails
There are three fat bike trails at Crystal, all aptly named: Fat Loop, Fat Chance and Fat Tire. They are all short, and when put together, offer about 4–5 miles of riding. The beauty for families is that you can tackle them one at a time, with the option to add on or head for pizza as needed.
The Fat Chance is a part of Crystal’s “Otter” loop—a multiuse trail also shared by snowshoers, hikers and cross-country skiers. This is not necessarily my first choice, because the high traffic leaves divots in the trail (unless you happen to hit it right after a groom). We skipped it and headed for the other two trails.
The Fat Loop trail was our favorite. The short loop is set down in the woods, across County Road 602—its own little world of flowy, snowy, rolly fun. The day we rode it, the shade from the trees had kept it alive longer than all the others. Tim, the gentleman who outfitted the guys with their rentals, said it was the best late-season trail they had. He was right. I might as well note that this was my fave because it’s also the trail I didn’t biff it on.
Photo by Kandace Chapple
We tackled the Fat Tire trail next. This straight trail takes you through Crystal Mountain’s property and connects you to the Betsie River Pathway, which has an additional 6 miles of groomed fat bike trails. The day we went, the trail had fallen victim to a late-February thaw and had icy patches on it. Tim warned us to slow up and hike around the ice if we saw it. Naturally, I tried to go corner on some ice and quickly (but beautifully) laid the bike on its side.
After that, I got at the front of our family of fatties and slowed the pace to a creep, worried they were all going to biff it like I did. The next icy corner, I hiked (literally), smarting from my earlier blowout. The boys didn’t say much, totally comfortable and having fun.
Overall, we spent an afternoon in the March sun, I got all my guys out together, and I embarrassed them only once. Mom heart? Check, check, check! And, as usual, every teen outing involves food: We finished up with a pepperoni pizza and a large order of mozzarella breadsticks at A. Papano’s Pizza just up the road in T-ville.
Ready For Fat Tire Biking at Crystal Mountain?
If you go, Crystal Mountain has several fat bikes available for rent, or you can buy a trail pass if you bring your own. When we went, it was first-come, first-served on rentals. Looking to find the conditions at Crystal Mountain? View their trail reports page before heading out on your trip.
Related Read: Cycle, Hike and Ski the Picturesque Cadillac Pathway.
Snow is generally soft but pls wear helmets, u never know