A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Best Cross-Country Skiing Near Jackson Hole

Cross country skiing in Granite Canyon
Cross country skiing in Granite Canyon Dina Mishev
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Jackson Hole boasts a wide array of options, groomed and ungroomed, to strap on those skinny skis for a day of cross country skiing. The town and surrounding areas contain numerous trails that are maintained and groomed by the Teton County/Jackson Parks and Recreation Department.

Grand Teton National Park is also a popular place to put some miles under your skis, and they have a published guide and trail brochure with trail-specific information. They also offer a handy [winter trip planner](www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/winter.htm) to help prepare for a day in the Tetons. Of note, be aware of avalanche danger when you're out and about. While cross-country skiers often worry less about avalanche danger than downhill skiers do, it's always a threat if you're in avalanche terrain. Be sure to check the local avalanche forecast, be aware of conditions, and have the proper skills, equipment, and knowledge for avalanche country, and be prepared for a day outdoors in changing winter weather.

Snake River Dike/Emily's Pond Levee

Emily's Pond levee
Emily's Pond levee Dina Mishev

Skiing the Snake River Dike and Emily's Pond Levee is a great way to get outside and enjoy Teton views with some fresh air and sunshine. Watch the steam rise off the river and the snow sparkle in the sunshine, keeping an eye out for moose browsing on vegetation.

This route is popular with cross-country skiers, dog walkers, and winter trail runners. There is a groomed classic ski track, and people also enjoy skate skiing here. This area is very popular with dog walkers, so feel free to bring your four-legged friend with you, but be aware that you'll run into many other dogs on your way.

To get here, head west on Highway 22 out of Jackson (towards Teton Pass). Take a right just before the bridge that crosses the Snake River and you'll find the parking lot. The groomed track follows the northwest side of the river. The crowds tend to thin out after the first mile or so. If it seems like a crowded day, just keep on going and you'll likely find a lot more solitude.

Bradley and Taggart Lakes

Just as snowshoers love the Bradley and Taggart Lakes , cross-country skiers will also enjoy getting out and drinking in some Teton views while making their way to these gems. These trails are not groomed, so be prepared to break through some fresh snow; though there's usually an informal track in place for at least parts of the journey.

If you're looking for a track, you can always walk to the closed Teton Park Road and ski along that road (which is adjacent to the Bradley and Taggart Lakes Trailhead). The road is often great for both classic and skate skiing.

However, if you want to head to the lakes, follow the trail out from the Bradley and Taggart Lakes Trailhead. Options include a 3-mile roundtrip out-and-back to Taggart Lake, the 4-mile Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek Loop, or the 3.4-mile Bradley Lake out-and-back. If you're heading to Taggart Lake, be sure to take a look up Avalanche Canyon for amazing views.

The route to the lakes is relatively mellow, though there are a few hills up to 150 feet tall. The hills aren't that steep, but be prepared and be on the lookout for others on your way down, as there are some curves and blind spots, and these trails can have a number of users on nice winter days. Bradley Lake is a good spot for a winter picnic, and it offers more tranquility than Taggart Lake, as it sees fewer winter visitors.

Moose-Wilson Road / Granite Canyon:

Cross country skiing in Granite Canyon
Cross country skiing in Granite Canyon Dina Mishev

Grand Teton National Park also offers another great option for cross-country skiers: the trails near Granite Canyon Trailhead . Drive down Moose-Wilson Road (just past Teton Village), and head into the park. Where the road ends, park in the Granite Canyon trailhead parking lot or find a spot along the road if it's crowded.

Head out on the closed Moose-Wilson Road from this spot, making your way up the groomed path. You can follow it for 2.9 miles to the other parking area, then turn around and head right on back for a 5.8-mile roundtrip ski, with 500 feet of elevation gain. A popular side trip along this route is to head up to Phelps Lake, a 5.6-mile roundtrip ski.

Some cross-country skiers may like to head up on the route toward Granite Canyon, but be cautious about heading up the canyon itself due to avalanche danger, especially because this route is below a popular and avalanche-prone area that many backcountry skiers use.

Teton Canyon:

Fresh Teton tracks
Fresh Teton tracks Dina Mishev

Pop over Teton Pass and head into Teton Valley, Idaho and marvel in Teton Canyon . This is one of the prime spots east of the pass to enjoy some cross-country skiing. This route is fairly flat and it beholds spectacular Teton views.

Depending on how far out you head, you can find a pretty good dose of tranquility. Near Ski Hill Road, you'll find plenty of dog walkers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and fat bikers, but if you keep on walking, after a couple miles, you might just have the place to yourself. Early in the route, you'll find open fields, but further in, the trees get quite a bit closer.

Be aware that snowmobiles also use this route, so keep an eye out for bumpy paths. Most snowmobile users on this route are backcountry skiers using the machines to access more terrain. This trail is groomed by Teton Valley Trails and Pathways and their grooming schedule is available online http://tvtap.org/nordic-grooming.

Mesa Falls Scenic Byway

Mesa Falls in winter
Mesa Falls in winter Dina Mishev

While it's not right in Jackson, Mesa Falls Scenic Byway is worth the drive over to Ashton, Idaho. Try the 12-mile roundtrip ski from Warm River Campground to Mesa Falls. From the southern entrance, near the Warm River Campground, you'll find Upper Mesa Falls about one-third of the way along the road. There are two waterfalls—Upper and Lower Mesa Falls.

The Upper Mesa Falls are more spectacular, about 100 feet wide and nearly 10 stories tall. During the winter, there is a visitor center with limited hours that serves hot chocolate. A mile south, Lower Mesa Falls is also impressive. The rock surrounding the falls contains million-year-old lava and solidified ash left over from ancient eruptions of the Yellowstone super volcano.

The 17 miles of scenic byway are groomed in the winter, and it is used by snowmobilers, fat bikers, and even the occasional dog musher. To avoid snowmobiles, try and ski midweek. However, the traffic gets spread out over the 17-mile distance, so it shouldn't be too bad, even on a weekend.

If you're looking to make a weekend out of it, nearby Harriman State Park offers overnight yurt rentals.

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