The onset of colder weather and the first snowfall is nature’s call to the adventurous that it’s time to head outside. Douglas, Ashland, Bayfield and Iron Counties’ geographical advantage along the southern banks of Lake Superior contributes to a combined average of 119 inches of snowfall per season – yes, that’s nearly 10 feet of juicy lake effect – and creates ideal conditions for one of Wisconsin’s favorite activities: fat tire biking.
For those looking to get out and enjoy all a Northern Wisconsin winter has to offer, consider hitting the trails on an adrenaline-pumping adventure to any of these great spots!
Our first stop is at the popular CAMBA Bike Trail System in Cable, where 50 miles of groomed fat tire trails await. Located within the Chequamegon National Forest, the CAMBA trails offer a wealth of terrain options to suit both the beginner and advanced rider, from wider tracks like the “Big Easy” and the “Tortoise Trail” to plenty of groomed singletrack.
Conveniently located nearby you’ll find Up North Guided Tours, whose services truly could not be better for out-of-towners who are unfamiliar with the area but still want the full fat tire experience. Each of Up North’s tours includes a custom route plan, a guide, transportation to and from trailheads and an option to rent fat bikes and equipment suitable for excursions up to seven hours.
Rentals are also available just south of Cable, in Hayward at New Moon Ski & Bike. For a more independent experience, pick up a trail map and travel a short distance to trailheads within the CAMBA system. If conditions are good, groomed trails are just two miles from the shop!
If you’re thinking of visiting later in the season, consider staying the weekend of Cable’s annual Fat Bike Birkie. Scheduled in late winter, the festival’s signature event challenges participants to a 47-kilometer fat tire bike race on the highly acclaimed American Birkebeiner Ski Trail. Just make sure to reserve your lodging in advance – nearby options like Lake Owen Resort, the Cable Nature Lodge and Staudemeyer’s Four Seasons Resort tend to fill up quickly!
The popularity of the CAMBA system makes Cable and the surrounding towns a top destination, but its extension farther north is well worth the added mileage. In Bayfield, Mt. Ashwabay provides a shorter, more consolidated and easily navigable option. But don’t let the serene wooded landscapes fool you – the twists and turns through miles of moderate to advanced level singletracks satisfies adrenaline’s greatest itch. But just in case you find leftover energy, the area offers a unique bonus experience just off the beaten path…
As long as the ice is thick, the road to Madeline Island is open for business! For the fearless, the two-mile fat tire trek across Lake Superior’s frozen surface is a gateway to the historic island’s eclectic shops and charming eateries.
Just be aware of unpredictable ice conditions. Preparation and foresight will serve well in the elements where weather can change in an instant. Be sure to consult with local officials rather than determining for yourself if the ice is ready, and remember, there’s no such thing as “safe ice.”