This roughly 30-mile stretch of relatively flat, gravel, biking trail is the closest rail trail there is to Jackson Hole. The signage is a little confusing, but what "hidden gem" truly has signage littered all over the place?
The idea of turning abandoned and/or unused rail corridors into trails started in the Midwest in the 1960s. There was no grand plan. Once rail tracks were removed, people naturally began walking the gentle routes. In the winter, people would ski them. Today there are upwards of 15,000 miles of rail trails used annually by upwards of 100 million people. The Ashton-Tetonia Trail is the closest rail trail to Jackson Hole.
What Makes It Great
Don't get lost in Paris.
The detour promises a sign indicating where you should turn. But, it's easy to miss and find yourself huffing and puffing to the top of a 200-foot hill not included in the route description. The detour starts at the bottom of the hill, on a dirt road heading north.
Directing your mountain bikes onto that road, County Road 4400 E., you'll see that there is indeed a sign. A beautifully modest one: forty feet in, white and brown, and no bigger than three inches by four inches.
Welcome to the Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail, completed in 2011 thanks in large part to $1.4 million of federal funds, which was evidently a few hundred dollars short of what was needed to properly sign the project.
But really, the understated signage only adds to the trail's character. After all, how can it be billed as a “hidden gem” if it has arrows all over the place? Driving around Tetonia looking for the trail’s start, some people have been known to get lost in that tiny town of 269 people.
If you want to start riding in Ashton, that end is even trickier to find. It's there though. Follow the railroad tracks south from the main drag. Eventually you’ll get to the spot where the tracks end and the rail trail starts.
Much of the ATT’s route parallels Idaho Highway 32. But while the highway has significant ascents and descents, the ATT has no hills, although there is a 900 foot elevation difference between Ashton and Tetonia. It is downhill heading north and uphill heading south.
Also, while the highway’s scenery is mostly agricultural, the ATT, which is 10-feet wide, winds through small riparian areas and stands of aspen trees, and over three historic trestle bridges. Of course, you still get as much potato and wheat-field viewing as you’d like. Because the trail is not at all technical; you can focus on the scenery without fear of falling.
Who is Going to Love It
The trail is packed gravel/dirt, making it a pretty easy ride.
When the area's aspens begin to change, it is one of the prettiest rides around.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The start of the ATT in Tetonia is at the end of Egbert Road, which is not signed from the highway. Coming from Driggs, turn left at the sign for the Teton Mountain View Lodge. Or just stop and ask for directions.
If (mostly) flat riding on a wide gravel path isn’t quite luxurious enough for you, sign up with The BikeTender for a ½-day supported trip along the trail. Trips leave from Fitzgerald’s Bikes in Victor. A driver will drop you off near the northern end of the trail. You’ll ride south towards Tetonia, with the Tetons in front of you. After perhaps 10 miles, The BikeTender will have a snack and chairs waiting for you. Post-snack, you can continue riding for as long as you want or hop into the van for the return trip to Victor. (Supported trips are between $59 and $85; 208/787-BIKE.)
The trail is packed gravel/dirt. Road bikes are not appropriate. Use a bike with wheels that are at least 32mm wide. The only time you must share a route with motorized traffic is on the 2 mile detour around Paris, a long-ago abandoned and forgotten town, at approximately mile 16 (from Tetonia). About ¼-mile of this detour is on Highway 32; the rest is on rarely-used dirt roads.