Fat Bikes & Ghost Towns

February 9, 2016

Last November, my friend and co-worker won a winter weekend lottery slot for the popular cabins at Garnet Ghost Town, an abandoned 1800s mining town turned BLM historical preservation project up in the Garnet Range about 30 miles east of Missoula, MT. In winter the narrow mountain roads up to this tiny mountain town are only accessible by snowshoe, ski, or snowmobile — seemed like the perfect opportunity to plan my first fat bike snowvernight.

Our cohort of seven (five skiers, one runner, one fat bike, plus two adorable pups) met in the snowy parking lot on Bear Gulch Road to load our packs and head up the mountain. A buddy of mine was kind enough to loan me his Surly Moonlander and a few Relevate Designs bags for the trip and I was stoked to test out the new set up. I’d never ridden a fat bike in the snow, much less a loaded fat bike. 

Several routes climb up to Garnet and we settled on the shorter and steeper of the three with the intention of getting up to the cabin early to ditch our packs and go exploring. Three hours and a few thousand feet of icy climbing later, the first of our group arrived at the cabin to get a fire going and check out the sprawl of old cabins, saloons, hotels, and general stores. After spinning out on the steep switchbacks on a loaded bike, even Moonlanders have traction limits, it was great to ride around in fresh powder. 

After an evening of chili, bourbon, ghost stories, and full moon night hikes, we set off back down the hill — opting this time to take a different route, the long way down. Guided by paper maps and intuition, we slogged up and around the mountain in search of First Chance Gulch. The first few miles were packed by snowmobile tracks and kept us moving at moderate clip, though it didn’t last long. After a few miles of dodging snowmobiles, we took a sharp right and began the descent in knee-deep powder. 

I’ve never worked so hard to pedal down hill, but loved every minute of it and am already scheming for next year’s trip to Garnet. If this looks like fun, I encourage you to head on over to our Bike Overnights website for more adventures. And if snow isn’t your thing, we’ve still got room on our Hawaii Big Island tour...

Words and images 1,3,8 by Whitney Ford-Terry 
All other images courtesy of the fabulous Saara Snow


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Some Fat Bike February highlights to be on the lookout for during Fat Bike February:

  • Adventure Cyclist Fat Bike Buyers Guide 2016
  • Fun Facts and Fat Biking Tips from Adventure Cycling on Instagram



Do you crave cycling adventures? Are you simply curious about bicycle touring? When you try a membership with Adventure Cycling Association you tap into inspiring resources and valuable tools that will ignite your dreams and plans for bike trips of any kind.

To celebrate Fat Bike February, we're offering complimentary 6-month trial memberships ($20 value) to first-time members so that you can experience all that Adventure Cycling has to offer. New members can click here to take advantage of this limited time offer and current members can use this link to send a free trial membership to a friend!?

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ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team—Whitney, Mandy, Linda, Emma and Arlen—tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, helping you bring your cycling dreams to fruition. Check out our 2016 Guided Tours today!


Raymond Wishart

Being a photographer by trade, from the flatlands of Florida, I am very impressed by the photo opps on this blog post. Looks like a wonderful adventure but as a Floridian who whines when I have to bike in the 60's I doubt I will ever do this . . . but I am impressed!

February 10, 2016, 6:27 AM
Blaine Snow

Awesome outing, great article and photos! - can't wait to go fat biking in the snow.

February 10, 2016, 12:42 PM
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