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Chugach State Park is heeding the call of Alaska’s growing fat bike population and opening up many of its most popular trails for unlimited access.
The country’s third largest state park, Chugach sits 20 minutes east of Anchorage, Alaska’s biggest city and a major fat bike hub. The park first started issuing permits to fat bikers four years ago, but increased demand led it to completely open the trails this winter.
The new regulations went into effect in last Sunday and allow bikes with a minimum tire width of 3.7 inches and pressure of 20 psi or less.
“In the winter, if you’re using a fat tire bike, the impact on the resource is negligible,” said park superintendent Tom Harrison, adding that fat tires are also less likely to make ruts that disturb cross country skiers.
For their part, fat-tire bikers are excited about the softened regulations, especially since mild winters have made for a string of bad ski years.
“Fat-biking was kind of born and raised here, and it keeps getting bigger,” said Jon Kunesh, a fat biker and manager of Paramount Cycles, the closest shop to the park. “If you can't ski, you try to find something to do or else it's going to be a long winter. And even if you can't ski, you can always fat bike.”