With fall daytime temperatures cool and crisp and winter looming on the horizon (it's never that far off in Wyoming, after all), now is the perfect time to grab your bike and hit the roads and trails around Jackson before the flakes start flying. In addition, summer crowds have thinned out and there's plenty of fall foliage and wildlife to take in along way.
Here, five great Jackson bike rides that should be on any cyclist's list this fall, with a nice mix of road biking, gravel road riding, and cross-country mountain options to satisfy your appetite for biking adventure before the season comes to a close. For more inspiration and information, Friends of Pathways, an organization that advocates for pathways around Jackson Hole, has some great maps that show a variety of trails in the area, including routes on Greater Snow King and Teton Pass.
1. Fall Creek Road
Savor some gorgeous fall foliage with a cruise down Fall Creek Road . This route is 36 miles round-trip from Jackson, but if you opt to start in Wilson, you'll only pedal 21 miles round-trip. Head down Fall Creek Road from Wilson and you'll enjoy six miles of road with a good shoulder before the shoulder disappears (however, vehicle traffic will lessen considerably at that point). This out-and-back route offers up a challenge when you reach Butler Creek, where the road ascends for about two miles to the top of Red Top. After savoring the views, savor the lovely descent down the hill before returning the way you came.
2. Jackson to Kelly Loop
Enjoy a flat route and some solitude on this peaceful variable-length ride (which can be as short as 14 miles or as long as 42 miles depending on which route you take). The Jackson to Kelly Loop offers a few different options: Either ride to Kelly from town or drive up to Gros Ventre Junction to start your ride, an option that shaves 14 round-trip miles from the route. Once you're at Gros Ventre Junction, you can ride to the town of Kelly as an out-and-back, or you can head left on Antelope Flats Road, then turn back out on 191/89 south to return to Gros Ventre Junction and complete your loop. Enjoy great wildlife viewing, especially bison and pronghorn antelope, along this route.
3. Cache to Game
For a convenient way to hop in the saddle and get rolling, you can't beat this great mountain bike loop that starts right outside the center of town. The Cache to Game Loop is about 20 miles if you follow the standard route. Start at the Cache Creek Trailhead, just two miles from Town Square. Head up the forest service road, keeping an eye out for dog walkers for the first couple of miles. About five miles in, cross the bridge over Cache Creek and start pedaling hard to ascend the Game Creek Divide (the Cache/Game Saddle is at 7,445 feet ). On the way down the divide, you'll head through an aspen and pine forest, and then out the Game Creek Trailhead south of town. From there, you can ride along the highway back to town or turn around and head back up the trail, completing the route as an out-and-back.
4. Around the Block
Don't let the name deceive you: This little roll around the neighborhood isn't just your average weekend ride. Known in cycling circles as Around the Block , this grueling, 108-mile route involves traveling over steep mountain passes and through the rolling hills around Jackson Hole. To head out on this day-long adventure, first head west from town and ascend Teton Pass. This tough climb over one of the steepest mountain passes around will be rewarded with spectacular views up top, but be ready for a steep and very fast descent (one rider reported reaching speeds of 67 miles per hour). Once you're in Victor, Idaho, head onto Idaho 31 and up Pine Creek Pass. At Swan Valley, turn onto U.S. 26 and head into Alpine, Wyoming and ride up the canyon back to Jackson.
5. Ashton to Tetonia Rail Trail
Idaho's Ashton to Tetonia Rail Trail offers up 30 miles of great riding on packed gravel and dirt (use bikes with 32mm or wider tires). This route used to be a rail corridor, but once the tracks were removed, it became a favorite biking route. Navigation along this route can be a bit tricky and signage is lacking, but detailed directions will help you find the way. This route is especially beautiful with fall foliage, and the best time to ride is when the aspen foliage is peaking (typically mid to late September, but sometimes into October).