A couple of weeks ago I headed over to Cache Creek and rode a few of the trails I wasn’t able to last summer due to them being on fire at that time. I pedaled up the Cache Creek Sidewalk trail crossed over to Hagen then continued up Cache to Game Creek. Dropping into the fairly recent reroute on the top of Game is so much fun. I think this was redone a couple seasons ago but I still can’t get over what an improvement this section is to the old skinny singletrack that used to run straight down the drainage. Not that that wasn’t fun. Game was one of the first trails I rode in the area close to a decade ago and I was blown away at how awesome that trail was back then. Now it’s even better.
At the junction with West Game I took a right and pedaled up it towards the burn zone from last summer’s Horsethief Canyon fire. The first half of that trail looks exactly like it has for years, no sign of the fire at all. That is until right around the second half. As I was nearing this point I first started noticing a few scorched trees high up on the ridge line above the drainage. Not long after that I rounded a corner and saw a few random trees near the trail that had been burned. After the next turn pretty much every stand of pines were all black trunks and rust colored needles. This was all in such stark contrast to the new bright green grass growing everywhere. I climbed up onto the ridge and could see just how the flames had rolled over the hills taking out huge swaths of trees as they went.
From there I dropped into Wilson Canyon. Rolling past the junction of Leeks the fire damage became less apparent. The next couple miles through the meadows, along the creek and into the forest seemed untouched by the flames like nothing had ever happened.
This next section of the trail is definitely the most exciting part of this ride. It turns from smooth, rolling XC to an extreme, technical DH with little to no warning. You really need to hold on at this point. For most of the rest of the ride the trial itself is made up of loose, rather large gravel. This would make things challenging enough for most people but then you factor steepness and a handful of rock drops and you now have a seriously intense ride. Just as things start to mellow back out the trees thin a little and you get a glimpse through the mouth of the canyon to the valley below. It was at this point that I started seeing more signs of the fire. The last mile and a half made for some spectacular photos. The meadows were full of new grass and wildflowers while the hills were covered in bare and blackened pines. I spent quite a while looking up into the canyon from the trailhead before crossing Hwy 89 and hopping onto the bike path.
A couple miles later I crossed back over the highway and started up Leeks Canyon. Just so you know the first 20 yards or so is private property surrounded by a fence with more than a few no trespassing signs on either side of it. To ride this up from the bottom you’ll need to find a way around or risk being prosecuted. Once you’ve managed to clear this minor obstacle you’re golden. Leeks Canyon is a two track that has been closed to motorized for a while. Although last summer this became an access road for bulldozers and other equipment to get up to the burn area. Since then they have blocked it back off at the entrance as well as a few spots across one side of the two track. I’m sure it won’t take long for the road to grow back in. After the summit they’ve already completely filled in one side of the dozer track and smoothed out the other to make a really nice, wide single track all the way back to the juntion of Wilson canyon.
After returning to the Wilson Canyon trail I pedaled back uphill past West Game and onto a section of all new singletrack that takes you up on the hillside and above the marsh that the old trail went through. This had all been cut in just over a week before in a massive collaborative effort by theBridger-Teton National Forest along with Teton Freedom Riders, Friends of Pathways and the Teton Backcountry Horsemen and was already riding great. The reroute takes you up a nice grade through several groves of torched trees, think numerous photo ops, all the way up to the junction of Ferrins.
After spending a few minutes checking out the view of JH from the saddle I made my descent down Ferrins and back to Cache Creek. In all I think this ride ended up being 30+ miles and took around 5 hours including a lunch break and a lot of stops to take photos. On a beautiful day with perfect riding temps I still only saw a total of 3 other people. The first two were between the Sidewalk trail and Cache Creek and the last was just starting up Hagen as I was finishing my ride. Kind of amazing to feel like you’re riding in a remote wilderness and be right in the middle of town.