Located between Curt Gowdy and Sun Valley, straddling the Teton mountain range is a destination combining the best of both mountain biking worlds from Wyoming and Idaho, affectionately referred to by locals as “Wydaho.”
Unique to Wydaho riding is both its geography and infrastructure, providing convenient access to a plethora and diversity of trails. Teton Valley is bordered by the Big Hole Mountains to the west and the Teton range on the east. Driggs and Victor, ID (Drictor) are eight miles apart and are equally equipped to serve as your hub for lodging, eating, and local bike shopping. From Teton Valley, a scenic 45-minute drive up and over the Teton Pass puts you in Jackson Hole, WY, bordered to the west by the Teton range and to the east by the Gros Ventre Wilderness.
Teton Valley, ID
Lodging. What Driggs and Victor, ID lack in fancy-schmancy hotel accomodations, they more than make up for in quiet, comfortable, and competitively-priced cabins and condos for rent throughout the valley, thanks to the booming popularity of Grand Targhee (The Ghee).
Food. In Victor, look no further than Big Hole BBQ or The Brakeman for post-ride succulent pork and burly burgers, respectively. In Driggs, The Royal Wolf is the mountain biker’s watering hole, and proved equally as competent in serving up a mean pork belly sandwich. Surprisingly, the highlight of my eating experience was a fresh fruit pre-ride smoothie blended-to-order by Barrels & Bins in Driggs.
Bike Shops. With a population hovering around 4,000, to have four bike shops is evidence that mountain biking is well-supported and welcome in Teton Valley. Fitzgerald’s in Victor will whip you up a hot choice beverage while you wait for a tune or talk trails. Habitat in Driggs has the most impressive range of inventory and has a second location at the base of Grand Targhee. Don’t forget to stop by Peaked Sports just down the street.
Teton Valley Trails
Mill Creek to Colter’s Escape: Alta, WY
Whether it’s the breathtaking views of the Tetons, many options and add-ons within the network, or ripping fast descent, there are as many reasons to ride Mill Creek as there are the multitude who frequent it everyday. From the trailhead (TH), the first 1000 feet is a gradual climb on the southern boundary of the Grand Targhee Resort, where you’ll catch a few sneak peeks of the grand peaks. A yurt marks the junction of 38 Special, an endless series of switchbacks with every left turn giving way to a closer view of the Tetons, and Colter’s Escape, the more open, faster descent. Either route loops up to the Peaked Trail, topping out at 9,000 feet.
Other options for Mill Creek include a shuttle from the TH to the Grand Targhee Resort, where you can climb Lightning Ridge and Buffalo Soldier for a total of 500 feet, bringing you to the top of Colter’s Escape and the option to continue climbing via the Peaked Trail, continue down Colter’s to 38 Special to climb the scenic ridge, or rip and grip a 1000-foot descent down Mill Creek.
Horseshoe Canyon: Driggs, ID
Located about 10 miles straight west of Driggs, ID is an addictive mix of smooth, flowy, undulating, mountain bike-specific trails collectively known as Horseshoe Canyon. With the ability to combine and recombine trails within the system, you can create anything between 20 minutes to 2 hours, making this area great for an afternoon thrash after the day’s epic. For a quick rip, take Channel Lock up to a doubletrack that links back to Bovine for the downhill (or vice versa). Lengthen the ride by continuing Channel Lock or Bovine to outer loops. (From Bovine: Shark’s Belly > Probation > Burgh > Cody’s > Sodbuster > Southbound > Channel Lock).
Rush Hour: Victor, ID
When 4 o’ clock rolls around, the traffic on the outskirts of Victor, ID (pop. 2,000) isn’t exactly bumper-to-bumper, but as this 4.5-mile little do-dad of singletrack starts, follows, and ends right along the highway–many locals frequent Rush Hour as an after-work quickie.
Other Noteworthy Teton Valley Trails:
Lodging. If it’s the nightlife you seek, Jackson will easily meet your needs. If you enjoyed the Drictor pace and still prefer winding down in a quieter atmosphere, check out Teton Village at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort about 20 minutes northwest of Jackson. Either way, both are located at the bases of ski resorts with trails minutes away from lodging.
Food. It’s beyond the scope of this report to bring you all the deets on the eats in Jackson, but I got lucky with most of my choices. I sampled pizza, shrimp tacos, and duck curry from Snake River Brewery, Hatch, and Teton Thai, respectively. Altough I preffered the lodging in Teton Village, I found food offerings there to be subpar and overpriced.
Bike Shops. There’s no shortage of bike shops in Jackson including (but not limited to): Wilson Backcountry Sports, Hoback Sports, Hub Bicycles, and for a more unique experience, check out Hoff’s Bikesmith. Do your homework, because local trail guides are limited to lower elevation and more family-oriented routes.
Jackson Area Trails
Phillips Ridge: Wilson, WY
Phillips Ridge is to Jackson what Mill Creek is to Teton Valley–a classic must-ride! You can shuttle Phillips from Teton Pass (Highway 22) and descend Phillips Ridge or the more popular downhill section, Phillips Canyon. With reports of lingering snow I wasn’t able to ride Phillips Canyon and began the switchbacked ascent from the Fish Creek Road TH. The first third of the climb begins with thick forest and buff trail, eventually giving way to more technical terrain along the flatter grade along the ridge. From the top, access Phillips Canyon via Snotel or, as I did, saddle up for a long, fast descent back down Phillips Ridge.
Cache Creek to Game Creek: Jackson, WY
No visit to Jackson would be complete without a scream down Game Creek. You can access the goods on one of three trails, each reaching the Cache-Game divide as the final common pathway: Putt-Putt Trail begins to the north of the Cache Creek TH with a brisk uphill transitioning to a mellow sidehill trail; Hagen’s Trail begins at the Cache TH and follows the creek on the south under the shaded forest; or, for the least eventful approach, take the Cache Creek doubletrack. You’ll know when you’re close when Cache turns back on itself as a steep (for some, a hike-a-bike) uphill. A short, flat pedal through the divide then gives way to breakneck speed down Game Creek that feels nothing short of a bobsled run. Just before Game begins to mellow, you have the option to turn right onto West Game Creek, which climbs another five miles before descending the Ferrins and Sink-or-Swim trails through the Snow King Resort, putting you closer into town. Otherwise, be prepared for a huff back to your car as Game Creek eventually dumps you out several miles south of town.
Teton Pass Downhill: Wilson, WY
If Coolio was a mountain biker, he’d compose a rhyme inspired by the cluster of downhill trails on the Teton Pass and call it “Downhilla’s Paradise” and it would top the charts, like, forever! Chock-full of rugged, natural terrain, monster gap and tabletop jumps, rock drops, steep pitches, and sweeping berms, descending “The Pass” is an off-the-charts butt-puckering rush only you and your laundry man could truly appreciate.
Fuzzy Bunny starts about 100 yards east of the summit and drops about 2000 feet over two miles if combined with the Power Line Jumps and Parallel trails. I would classify Fuzzy Bunny as advanced and the latter two as intermediate. For a slightly less demanding descent, start with Jimmy’s Mom about halfway down Teton Pass off Highway 22, which links to Candyland and Parallel.
A word of caution: if you start here, you may never want to leave.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort: Wilson, WY
It’s no Grand Targhee, but the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) is a great way to spend the evening after a day of epic riding or as a “rest day” with some light, playful sessions on the bike park. The cozier trails were especially nice to have so close to my lodging in the Teton Village and, even though the lifts weren’t yet open, pushing up a few hundred feet was well-worth the well-built and maintained trails. There are also many miles of XC trail in JHMR if bike parkin’ it isn’t your thing.
Other Noteworthy Jackson Trails
If you’re a weirdo that finds as much enjoyment in researching and planning your next destination as you do actually riding it, then good for you and take this review as a guide, but for those of you who like to pass the buck, here’s a Wydaho cookbook of sorts:
- Day 1: Teton Valley
- Grand Targhee Bike Park and/or surrounding XC trails
- Day 2: Teton Valley
- Peaked Trail & Colter’s Escape via Mill Creek & 38 Special
- Horseshoe Canyon Area
- Day 3: Jackson Hole
- Cache Creek to Game Creek
- Munger Mountain
- Day 4: Jackson Hole
- Teton Pass DH (Black Canyon, Fuzzy Bunny, Jimmy’s Mom, Lithium)
- Day 5: Jackson Hole
- Phillips Ridge to Phillips Canyon (or Phillips Ridge OAB)
- Bonus Rides & Considerations:
- Throw in Rush Hour on your way over to Jackson from Teton Valley
- If Teton Pass seems overwhelming, substitute for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Bike Park
- Consider climbing West Game Creek into Snow King Resort from Game Creek
- Consider shuttling Phillips Canyon on Teton Pass DH day and do Phillips Ridge as an OAB on Day 5
- If you prefer an extra day in Teton Valley, ride South Fork to Mahogany and Rocky Peak/Red Creek via Spooky
Thanks to Aaron Couch, Carolyn, Michael, Mechanics Mike and Troy from Habitat, and all the folks from Teton Valley and Jackson for being nice to me.
More bear bell!