Six Epic Rides
One of these is perfect for you.
// By Brigid Mander
The Teton Range and surrounding areas have a reputation for many things: wildlife, scenery, mountain climbing, and skiing, among others. Less-known but equally amazing is our biking—road, mountain, gravel—and the range of the different types of rides possible. “We have such a variety of terrain; with pavement, bike paths, dirt roads, and singletrack, there is something for everyone,” says Cary Smith, a competitive cyclist, racer, and shop manager at The Hub Bicycles, a bike shop in Jackson.
In no particular order, here are six of our favorite rides, from downhill mountain biking to an e-bike ride the whole family can do.
Best For: Beginners
Start: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee Resort
Details: Lift-accessed mountain biking trails at all levels
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and Grand Targhee both have bike parks with trails rated similar to ski runs—green for easy, blue for intermediates, and black diamonds for experts. While it’s the expert trails that are most often highlighted on social media, the easy trails—with smooth, banked turns—are the most popular with kids and the young at heart. Added benefits of riding at a bike park are 1) you can take a lesson, and 2) lifts do the hard work of getting you and your bike to the top of the trails. “Bike parks make it so attainable, even for little kids,” says Sara Fitzpatrick, a local teacher, avid cyclist, and mother to a four-year-old who loves to ride the JHMR bike park. “It’s so much fun to share what you love with your kids, and the lifts make it so easy and they get so much confidence riding.” JHMR’s green trails such as Lucky Charm, Buck Knife, and Buckaroo are perfect practice playgrounds, and base area amenities provide an array of food and other activities.
Best For: Downhillers and Downhill Curious
Start: Phillips Trailhead, half-way up the Wyoming side of Teton Pass
Details: About three miles with 1,200 feet of descent (0 feet of ascent).
On Teton Pass, for the padded, full-face-helmeted, big-suspension crowd—and those interested in being part of this crowd—there’s Jimmy’s Mom to Parallel, two flowy, well-signed trails that link together. Built in partnership between Teton FreeRiders and the Bridger-Teton National Forest, these trails are downhill bike-only and directional specific (down) and don’t have the steeps of some other Teton Pass trails. Making them a great downhill adventure for groups of riders at different levels, both trails have jumps riders can catch serious air off, and every jump has a go-around that doesn’t require your tires to leave the ground. (The USFS requires that all jumps on downhill trails have a no-jump option.) You’ll want to leave a car at the Old Pass Road Trailhead so it’s waiting for you at the bottom.
Best For: E-Bike Adventurers
Start: Jackson Hole and Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center
Details: 25 miles, with about 700 feet of elevation gain
Rent an e-bike in town and follow the paved pathway north from town alongside U.S. Highway 191 and the National Elk Refuge. Your end destination, Dornan’s Pizza and Pasta Company, a restaurant just outside the Moose entrance of Grand Teton National Park, is 11 miles away, through sagebrush steppe where it’s possible to see wildlife from migratory songbirds to raptors, elk, pronghorn, moose, mule deer, and bison. You’ll hit Gros Ventre Junction about six miles from the start. Stay straight. Five miles past this, turn left at Moose, take a tunnel under the highway and then take your first right, which will bring you to Dornan’s, lunch, and, if you snag a table on the rooftop deck, some of the valley’s best views of the Tetons.
Best For: Gravel Grinders
Start: The Judkins Parking Area, near the corner of Reece Road and W 14250 N, north of Tetonia, Idaho
Details: 25 miles with about 1,800 vertical feet of ascent/descent
Like the Around the Block ride (described on the following page), the Jackpine-Pinochle Loop can be done either clockwise or counter-clockwise. The latter gives you the best views of the Tetons. Whichever direction you go, this loop on gravel and dirt roads is uphill for its first half and downhill for its second half. From the Judkins Parking Area, ride south on the Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail for about three miles. Near the intersection of Reece Road and W 12000 N, turn left onto Pinochle Road and begin a gentle climb through aspen and pine forest up about 1,800 vertical feet. At the intersection of Pinochle Road and Rammell Mountain Road—after about 11 miles of climbing—you’ll be at the loop’s high point, 7,200 feet. Stay on Pinochle Road here and prepare for 10 miles of mellow downhill. The downhill ends in the rolling agricultural fields of Teton Valley; pedal through these for about one mile, and you’re back at the Judkins Parking Area.
Best For: Roadies Looking for a Challenge
Start: Stagecoach Bar in Wilson
Details: 108 miles with about 6,000 feet of ascent/descent
So much about the Tetons is considered extreme, and a ride “Around the Block” popular with local roadies is no different. This block is more than 100 miles long and includes riding up (and down) Teton and Pine Creek Passes. This loop can be ridden clockwise or counter-clockwise. To get Teton Pass out of the way early, ride it counter-clockwise. From the Stagecoach Bar at the base of Teton Pass, hop on the pathway heading west. When the pathway ends in about a mile, take a gentle left onto Old Pass Road. A little more than a mile up this road, it closes to cars; bikes can continue to the top of Teton Pass. Atop Teton Pass, jump onto Highway 22 and descend down to Victor, Idaho. At Victor’s lone stoplight, take a left onto Idaho Highway 31, which goes up and over Pine Creek Pass (a much easier climb than Teton Pass) and into Swan Valley, Idaho. Where Highway 31 ends, take a left onto U.S. Highway 26 and ride down through Swan Valley. This stretch is rolling, brings you back into Wyoming, and eventually has you alongside Palisades Reservoir. At Alpine, take a left onto U.S. Highway 89. From here it’s 32 miles to the Highway 22 intersection in west Jackson, where you take a left and ride a final eight miles on the pathway back to where you started.
Best For: Cruisey Cross-Country Enthusiasts
Start: Cache Creek Trailhead, Jackson
Details: 12 miles if you have a car parked at the end (Game Creek Trailhead) with 1,500 feet of ascent/descent; 20 miles and 1,800 vert if you ride back to the start via a pathway
Cache-to-Game might be the most classic Jackson Hole cross-country single-track ride. For local accountant and avid mountain biker Rachel Stam, even 25 years of riding it doesn’t dull the attraction. “I love this ride,” she says. “It’s so climbable, and riding down Game is so fast and smooth and beautiful!” While this ride isn’t super technical, it will be most enjoyed by intermediate and above mountain bikers. From the Cache Creek Trailhead in East Jackson, take the rolling (but mostly uphill), shaded Hagen Trail to a forest service access road and then jump back on singletrack around mile four, where you turn onto the Game Creek Trail. Here, there’s one last short-but-painful climb up to the Cache-Game Divide, and then it’s a four-ish-mile flowy downhill through wildflower meadows and aspen groves, past beaver ponds, and along Game Creek to the Game Creek Trailhead. Whether you’ve left a car here or ride the seven-ish miles back to Cache Creek on a bike path, consider stopping at the Bird for beer and a burger on the way home.
Know Before You go
1. E-bikes are restricted to designated motorized trails in both the Caribou-Targhee and Bridger-Teton National Forests.
2. If you’re lucky enough to see wildlife, give them space, even if it means turning around on your ride.
3. Mountain bikers should carry bear spray (and keep it somewhere accessible).JH