Technically, Grand Targhee Resort is located in Wyoming. And while I was stoked to ride there, during my time in Wydaho I really wanted to spend some time in the ‘daho part, since I’d never pedaled a bike in that state. As we set out to leave the resort on day two, I pushed pretty hard for an Idaho ride. While Mitch Prissel, my guide for the day and the manager and previous owner of the Habitat bike shop, said we’d get there eventually, our first ride was still in Wyoming—but because it is the best in the region.
We began our pedal by, again, rolling right from the base of Grand Targhee Resort. Instead of heading climber’s left to the Rick’s Basin Area, we veered towards climber’s right, heading into a zone that I hadn’t yet ridden. Our main ascent up the mountainside was a brand-new trail that still didn’t have an official name, but the working title is “Action Jackson.” A flowier, more gradual ascent than the older Andy’s, Action Jackson led us up to the Buffalo Soldier loop, which wound around the top of a ridge, on the side of Peaked Mountain.
We considered pedaling all the way up Peaked, but nixed that idea as we were already planning a two-ride day. Instead, we dropped down a doubletrack off the backside of the resort, which fed into the epic Mill Creek trail.
I’d heard that Mill Creek was a must-ride in the area, and I was stoked to get the chance to shred it! However, according to Mitch, Mill Creek would be getting even better, very soon. The resort had received permission from the forest service to build a singletrack access to Mill Creek, which would reroute around a boring doubletrack descent with a more entertaining singletrack drop. And in fact, rumor has it that that connector has already been completed since my time at Targhee in August! I guess I just need to go back next year. 😉
We bombed down into the Mill Creek trail, letting loose and hollering as we whipped through high-speed straightaways, into slightly-bermed, fast corners, over jumps, through a few rocks, and then whipping back through some trenched-out flowy sections all the way down to the road below.
Yep, Mill Creek is all it’s cracked up to be! The only downside is that the ride is over before you know it. If you want to add even more epicness to this ride, be sure to pedal up Peaked, and then rip back down, funneling into Mill Creek.
We had a second ride planned for the day—this time in Idaho! Jennie White picked us up at the base of Mill Creek, and then after grabbing a quick lunch, we rolled on over to Horseshoe Canyon, well into Idaho, on the other side of the town of Driggs.
Horseshoe Canyon is one of the earliest trails to melt out in the spring and one of the closest systems to Driggs for an after-work ride, but that doesn’t mean the riding here is mediocre in any sense! We planned a slightly truncated loop due to our tired legs from climbing up to Mill Creek, but still managed to hit Bovine, Sharks Belly, and a couple of other classic trails.
The Horseshoe Canyon ride experience was totally different than anything we had encountered on the other side of the valley. The trails were well-built, but had an old school, backcountry feel. The vegetation in the area was quite different as well, with tall, deciduous trees blocking out the sun, a few beginning to drop their leaves in anticipation of the coming fall.
Deep beneath those lofty boughs, the dirt was dark and loamy, offering up ripping trails that reminded me of riding in the Midwest and on the East Coast. That loamy singletrack frequently funneled into some old-school wooden bridges over boggy areas—the oldest bridges in Wydaho, according to Mitch.
Eventually we climbed back out of the dark side of Horseshoe, and descended back down the exposed front side, ripping through bermed-up S-turns on our way back to the van, and more food.
For even more information on mountain biking in the greater Wydaho area, be sure to check out Chris Daniels’ excellent guide, “Your Next Trip: Spending a Week in Wydaho.”
Habitat Bike Shop
If you’re looking for anything mountain bike-related on your trip to Wydaho, the only stop you need to make is at Habitat. Habitat has two locations—the main one in downtown Driggs, and an outpost up at the resort. The folks at Habitat are extremely knowledgeable about everything mountain biking, and they carry a substantial inventory of parts, apparel, and bikes, including some of the hottest brands on the market: Santa Cruz, Rocky Mountain, Intense, Kona, and Juliana.
Both Micheal and Mitch who guided me during my trip work at Habitat, and they loaded me down with more information than I could process about riding in the region. Mitch Prissel, who was my guide for the second day, founded and used to own Habitat. A couple of years ago he sold the business to the owner of Grand Targhee, but Mitch still manages Habitat as its own stand-alone entity, and they’re able to truly stay core to the sports that they partake in (Habitat switches to snow sports during the winter). In addition to a cash infusion, selling to Targhee has also brought in some serious accounting help, which has allowed the shop to reach a level that Mitch knew he couldn’t achieve without more business help.
After Day 1 of my stay, I realized that my brakes were in desperate need of a bleed, and maybe a pair of brake pads. It was already toward the end of the day, so I rushed down to Habitat in town (they have longer hours there), to get my brakes serviced quick. With less than two hours left in the work day, the guys were kind enough to drop what they were doing, wrench on my bike, and get it tip-top for the high speed bomb down Mill Creek the next day.
I’ve visited a lot of shops over the years, and Habitat is one of the best I’ve stepped foot in. Check ‘em out!
Food: Burgers and Beer
The Brakeman American Grill, located on the highway in Victor just 8 miles south of Driggs, has a large sign out front that simply proclaims, “Best Burger.” After eating there, I can tell you that’s not an idle boast. The burgers at Brakeman are huge and delicious, the fries are hand cut, and the fry sauce—an Idaho special—is a must. Add in a tasty local brew, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better burger and beer experience anywhere.