As Editor in Chief for Singletracks, rumors of developing trails and trail systems drift to my ears from all parts of the country, and the world. Occaisonallly I only hear a rumor once, or it seems unsubstantiated. But for certain areas, I hear a rumor again and again, from multiple sources, with new information building on the old, eventually creating a veritable onslaught bearing the same message. In this case, that message is: “Grand Targhee is building a ton of new trail, and you HAVE to ride there!”
As a result of these building rumors, Targhee had been on my hit list for a couple of years but this summer, I finally made it to Wydaho.
The locals refer to this region as “Wydaho,” as it rests smack on the border of Wyoming and Idaho. In fact, Targhee itself is located in Wyoming, but the only road access to the resort is from Idaho, and all of the closest towns are in Idaho. This presents some difficulty with marketing for the resort and for trying to relate where exactly it’s located—but only for those folks who aren’t in the know. For others, all you have to say is “Wydaho,” and a maniacal light flickers to life behind their eyes, as they rave about the quality of the singletrack in the area.
Unfortunately, my stay in the region would only consist of two days of riding, but I did my best to maximize those two days! My home base during that time was the resort of Grand Targhee itself, which, in retrospect, is the best way to do it. Targhee is the primary trail hub in the area, with extensive cross-country and downhill singletrack spread all over the mountain. Targhee is also one of the best places to find lodging in the region, with their on-mountain lodges and 40 managed vacation rentals in town. There are a couple of local hotels further down the mountain if you’re here in the summer—but if you come in the winter (they have epic fat biking, and made our list of the top 10 fat bike trails in 2015 as a result), those hotels are closed for the season.
Riding Grand Targhee Resort
I began my day of riding at the resort by picking up a full-fledged Devinci downhill rental rig at the Habitat bike shop on the mountain. Micheal Woodruff greeted me, with a grizzly gray beard down to his chest. Boasting 25 years of bike mechanic experience, I could see that he was experienced and wizened—but I thought that we were supposed to be shredding the gnar and going fast? I needn’t have worried about his skills.
Micheal is one of the friendliest guys that you’ll meet, but he quickly put me in my place. There’s not a gap jump or cliff huck on the mountain that he won’t hit, and as I skipped riding some drops in favor of taking photos, he sent them with flair and style. While he may be wizened, he’s an absolute shredder.
As we were riding the lifts, running laps on all of the DH runs, he let slip that he’s a bikepacker, too, routinely completing lengthy 400+-mile routes, with 100+ mile days each day. Yowser! There’s nothing this guy can’t do!
As the high speed quad carried us up the mountain, Micheal explained the history of the downhill trails to me, and we worked our way through the older-style, uber-rocky Sticks and Stones to the new school flow trails with massive berms and huge table tops. New for this year is the Rock Garden trail, which combines some of both types of riding: rocks and drops up top with sections that are reminiscent of European scree (if the videos I’ve watched are any indication), followed by some flowy tables and massive berms down low.
After a delicious lunch on the outdoor patio right across from the bottom of the lift, I rolled out with Jennie White, Marketing and Social Media Manager for Targhee, for a quick spin on some of the
green easy cross country trails.
While these trails may have been very beginner-friendly,
green-rated, that doesn’t mean boring at the ‘Ghee! With names like “Perma Grin” and “More Cowbell,” the quality of the singletrack lived up to their monikers, with flowing, swooping hardpack whipping through the gorgeous aspen groves.
This high quality singletrack, both in the DH park and the XC trails, is thanks to a crack team of pro trail builders, headed up by Andy Williams. Andy is employed by the resort to build and maintain all of this fabulous singletrack, and I can attest to the excellent job that he’s been doing. As Director of Marketing and Sales Ken Rider said, “four years ago, the only real trails at Grand Targhee Resort were over here in the Rick’s Basin area.” In the intervening short four years, Andy and company have built an astounding trail network—but they’re not done yet! According to Rider, the Forest Service has been extremely receptive to their singletrack expansion. “Everything we have planned for the next two years has been approved,” said Rider. “Now, we just need to go out and build it.”
And build singletrack, they are! Even as Jennie and I pedaled our XC loop, we saw Andy hard at work in the mini dozer. The next morning, I’d pedal a brand-new trail that wasn’t even on the trail map yet. The takeaway from my experience is this: there’s no question that the existing trail network here at Grand Targhee is superb. But unlike some destinations and resorts I’ve visited, they aren’t content to rest on their laurels. Rather, they’re constantly building, proposing, and planning new trails all over the area. If you visit the ‘Ghee one year and then come back the next, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have new trail to ride. If that’s not a fresh mountain biking experience, I don’t know what is!
Food: High Brow
“High brow” may be overstating it a bit, but the Forage restaurant, on the right as you enter Driggs after coming down from the resort, is home to some classy dishes and an upscale mountain town atmosphere. In a town with a population of less than 1,700, that’s quite an achievement. As has been pointed out in the past, I’m no culinary expert. Check out their menu for yourself on their website.
Keep Reading: “Beyond Targhee: More Classic Wydaho Mountain Biking“