While the Jackson area's high country snows are still melting, the valley and lower-lying regions offer a wealth of places to test out those trail runners and get some miles in before summer temperatures climb and tourist flock into town. You'll be glad you did, with serene mountain views and uncrowded trails.
But before you head out, be sure to check the weather forecast before you head out; afternoon thunderstorms are common this time of year. And a few words on practicing good bear safety anytime you're out, and especially when running: Travel in groups of three or more, make noise, and bring bear spray. Also, keep an eye out for moose, which can be aggressive, especially if they have calves with them. Be on alert for all animals in high brush.
If you're looking to run with a group, the Teton Trail Runners offers outings all summer long. Then, lace up your shoes for some early summer trail running in Jackson Hole.
Taggart Lake Trailhead offers several different options for great trail running in Grand Teton National Park, complete with stunning Teton scenery and gently rolling hills. The Taggart Lake trails are typically well-maintained and the area is popular among visitors and families. Don't let this area's popularity deter you, though. The views are well worth it, and the gently rolling hills make this run a fun trot instead of a slow slog. Park at the Taggart Lake Trailhead and sample the approximately 4-mile lollipop loop up to Taggart Lake, or head out to Bradley Lake, which is about 4.5 miles round-trip.
Two Ocean Lake
If you're looking for a good run away from the crowds, head up to Grand Teton National Park's northern end and enjoy a run around Two Ocean Lake . This six- or seven-mile run (depending on whether you opt for a side trip up to a viewpoint) is also packed with rolling hills and you can enjoy Teton views along the way. The path around the lake itself is about six miles long, and if you opt for the trip to Grand View Point on the lake's western end, it adds an extra mile to your run.
Right on the edge of town, Cache Creek provides a convenient way to head out for a quick trail run straight from town—no need to drive anywhere. Part of the Greater Snow King Trail System , this area offers a number of different options. These trails are often used by mountain bikers, dog walkers, and others in the summer, though, so keep your eyes open when rounding corners. From West Jackson, hop on a trail from the Nelson Drive trailhead or head down Cache Creek Drive (a little farther from town) to find the main Cache Creek trailhead. Popular running trails include Hagen, Upper Hagen, and Ferrins, though these trailheads are just the beginning of your adventure—use them as a jumping off point for exploring far into the wilderness.
Enjoy great views of the town of Jackson and the Tetons from this fun trail run accessed from town. Start at the Nelson Drive trailhead on the western side of Jackson, and head out on the Putt Putt trail for 10 minutes or so before you branch off to the Crystal Butte Trail .
This run can be steep in places as you climb from the valley to floor to Crystal Butte, which is 1,500 to 2,000 feet in elevation above the valley floor, depending on how high you ascend. All but the very beginning of this route is located in the Gros Ventre Wilderness, so you won't be competing with mountain bikes on this route. Be cautious of loose and dusty sections of trail, which can be a bit difficult on the way down and require some careful footing. Ascend the butte as high as you like and, if you make it to the ridge, you've ascended about 1,400 feet. To continue, follow the ridge and you'll gain about 600 more feet in elevation. You can continue further through thick trees and gain even more elevation, but most people turn around by this point.
Goodwin Lake Trail
Enjoy a 5-mile roundtrip trail run up to Goodwin Lake , which is located in the Bridger-Teton National Forest just about 30 minutes from town. This route offers a steady uphill climb that includes gorgeous scenery. First, you'll head uphill through a pine forest (where you'll notice a lot of beetle kill), then after 2.5 miles, you'll reach Goodwin Lake. This scenic lake has fantastic views of Jackson Peak to the south, and it's also a perfect spot for an alpine swim.