In winter, Teton Pass can be a commuter's nightmare. But come summertime, the steep mountain pass that connects Jackson with Victor, Idaho transforms into a hiker and biker's paradise (in winter, it's mecca for backcountry skiing as well). The area contains a network of well-maintained downhill mountain biking and hiking trails, some which are also used by equestrians. These trails are far less trafficked than the paths in nearby Grand Teton National Park, yet they offer spectacular scenery and great hiking and downhill mountain biking.
The Teton Freedom Riders is a group dedicated to improving this trail network, working to build and maintain trails and keep them safe. Throughout the year, Teton Freedom Riders hosts a number of events, including local “Dig Days” during which volunteers work together to maintain trails.
When out in the Teton Pass area, be sure to check ahead of time to the means of transportation allowed on each trail. Bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas and certain trails are designated for downhill bikes only. Others are designated only for bikers and hikers (no horses). Since many trails are multi-use, you might come across other types of trail users. Remember that cyclists yield to all other trail users, and all trail users yield to horse riders. Also, be aware of wildlife, including bears and moose. Make plenty of noise, travel in groups, and stay alert, especially when visibility is limited.
Here, our picks for some excellent biking and hiking trails in Teton Pass that are ideal for a summer outing.
If You're After: An Easy Alpine Lake Hike
Try: Ski Lake
This is just about the easiest alpine lake you can hike to in the Jackson Hole region, but its ease doesn't mean it lacks for scenery. Head out from the Phillips Trailhead to enjoy a 5-mile roundtrip hike to Ski Lake with about 800 feet of elevation gain. Enjoy spectacular wildflowers along this route. Hikers and horses are allowed on this trail, but no bikes. Bring a picnic and enjoy it on the lake's beautiful shores.
If You're After: A Mellow Hike or Ride
Try: Teton Pass to the Head of Black Canyon
Enjoy this relaxing less-than-four-mile route from Teton Pass to the Head of Black Canyon with only a little bit of elevation gain. Park at the large lot on the top of Teton Pass and head up the trail on the western end of the lot. This is an access road for the telecommunications towers up top (you'll see them along your way), so it's wide enough for a truck. Follow this for about half a mile, then the path is mostly level from there. Wind your way through forests and meadows, and enjoy sweeping views. You'll see the head of Black Canyon after another mile and a half.
If You're After: A Moderate Day Hike
Try: Taylor Mountain (Hike/Horse Only)
To head up Taylor Mountain, start at the Coal Creek Trailhead (use the trail on the southwestern side of the parking lot to avoid getting your feet wet crossing the creek). This trail soon meets up with the main parking lot trail. Follow the trail alongside Coal Creek and enjoy beautiful scenery as the trail winds for over two miles until you reach the meadows 2.2 miles in. At the end of the meadows, the trail splits. Stay left (west) to head up the summit ridge, which includes 500 feet of vertical elevation gain over about a mile.
If You're After: A Downhill Mountain Biking Adrenaline Rush
Try: Jimmy's Mom Trail (Downhill Bike Only)
If you're an expert downhill mountain biker, head out on Jimmy's Mom Trail to get your fill of steep singletrack with advanced jumps. This trail is about a mile long and you can loop it or add on to connecting trails for an adrenaline-packed route for experienced riders.