Horseshoe Canyon Trails Seasonal Closure and Survey Results

61 of you responded to our Horseshoe Canyon Trails Survey this past early November! Your input helps guide and inform our work in collaboration with the USFS and other local partners for developing a sustainable trail network close to home. Thank you! Also, below are some important details on the upcoming seasonal closure there.

Horseshoe Canyon Winter Closure

From Friday, November 30, 2018 – April 15, 2019, the Horseshoe Canyon Area will be CLOSED to all non-motorized and motorized recreation (this includes horses, bikes, hiking, dirt bikes, skis, etc. while snowmobiles are allowed only on designated routes including the Old Horseshoe Road & Packsaddle Road). For details, check out the USFS official Winter Travel Map. This closure is to allow big game species, most notably mule deer and elk, a place to spend the winter undisturbed. You’ll notice closure gates at the bottom of Channel Lock and Bovine as well as off of the Packsaddle Road. Don’t worry, the trails will still be there ready to go on April 15th! Questions? Email us at

Why is a closure important and why should we obey it?

Human presence in winter (no matter the type) can stress wildlife, causing them to use precious energy that they need to survive through the season.

Deep snow, cold temperatures, and a lack of food make winter a really stressful time for wildlife and here in the Teton region, we have a lot of wildlife. Large ungulates such as elk, mule deer and moose rely on wind-swept south-facing hillsides (i.e. Horseshoe Canyon) for winter food. The snow isn’t always as deep here, so it’s easier for them to access bunch grasses and other plants and forbs under the snow for a critical food source.This is especially the case in late winter when there is little or no snow in the Horseshoe area.

It’s also a time for them to conserve energy. Staying warm is tough and they need all the help they can get. These big critters will lie down and rest for long periods of time in one place in order to keep themselves for expending too many calories. When people enter the mix, the critters get up and move. It raises their heart rates and initiates the “fight or flight” response; burns a bunch of calories and energy they need to stay alive. So, it’s important that we give these guys a few months to deal with some harsh survival issues. Idaho Fish & Game and the US Forest Service have determined that five months gives them what they need to be safe.

Area outlined in RED is closed to recreation uses from November 30 – April 15.


Winter use matrix – USFS

Local mountain bikers should be commended for recognizing and obliging these rules for the past number of years. Let’s keep it up. Thanks everyone!

Horseshoe Canyon Trails Survey Results

This past November, we issued an online survey aimed at uncovering a number of desires/expectations/experiences at the Horseshoe Canyon area. 61 of you responded and were automatically entered for a chance to win a day ski pass at Grand Targhee Resort. And…. just drawing out of a hat, we have a winner! Angie Rudolph! Big thanks to Geordie and Grand Targhee Resort for the generous donation!

Below, you’ll find the results of the survey. Just today, I presented them to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest and we’ll be working with them and our partners at TVTAP and elsewhere in the community on focused planning and work in this outstanding community trail resource! Stay tuned…

Approximately how many days did you recreate at the Horseshoe Canyon Trails Network in 2018?

What is your favorite trail to ride in the Horseshoe Canyon area?

What is your LEAST favorite trail to ride in the Horseshoe Canyon area?

What type of riding experience do you expect when riding at Horseshoe Canyon? (select all that apply)

  • Deep ruts on climbs and downhills. The climbs and downhills could be so much better using the terrain over there instead of going straight down the fall line.
  • Steep climb at start/descent at the end; rolling, fun & flowy in the middle, different options depending on how much time you have.
  • Good early and late season access
  • Nice intermediate trails that novices can enjoy
  • I expect flowy and non-techy because that is the make-up of the majority of trails. I love the more technical parts of Shark’s Belly.
  • Trails should be more beginner based closer to the parking lot, then more adventure farther away. Really I want to see Channel Lock rerouted and Burg-Probation stay the same in essence
  • Trails should vary. Different level skill and flatness challenges. The trails should represent the different terrain that is there naturally. Don’t rip out the rocks and roots!

What are your FAVORITE things about riding in the Horseshoe Canyon area? (common themes below)

  • Number of trail/ride options
  • Shark’s Belly as an out and back,
  • Variety of trail, uncrowded, loops
  • It dries out fast so it can be ridden early and late season. You can get a long ride when you do all the trails. Spectacular views of the Tetons.
  • Each trail has a unique flavor.
  • Good mix of terrain – some climbing, some rolling; different looping options.
  • Flowy, varied, the views!
  • Ability to customize length. Accessibility early and late season. Flowers in peak. Some shade. Mix of more challenging climbs and a few technical places, with easy flowy trails. Pit toilet at trailhead now!
  • Sometimes challenging terrain, variety of terrain, interconnected trail system giving riders options to go as long or short as they want as well as options to bail if they just aren’t feeling it that day.
  • Great network of all sorts of trail types. Flowy, techy, smooth and primitive all within the span of 2 hours or so. Early and Late season riding as well – 1st dry out and last to fill in
  • Non-motorized single track built for mountain bikes, views of the Tetons, longest riding season in the Valley
  • I like the hand built trails. I’m happy for the progress in south valley but machine built trails are not as fun as hand built trails. I like that there are a few trails that are still steep in sections, the new method of building trails, machine built and low angle, has made them less interesting.
  • The various ways you can link things together to make different loops, and the variety of the trails, from open country to forested.
  • Views, early/ late season rides, the network of trails and ability to create diff ride lengths based on time. Some old school feel, SHARKS BELLY.
  • I can go clockwise or counterclockwise as I like, go up or down the steep sections depending on how I feel. Flow is important.
  • Trails are moderately challenging, enjoy both ascents and descents, mostly smooth and flow easy. Enjoy the views and the open space. Don’t worry too much about wildlife. Great for early season due to the southern exposures. Love the Trails!
  • It’s the epitome of a locals trail network. Always see people I know.
  • Proximity to town, fun amount of trails, some have good sun exposure for spring and fall, no motorized, good scenery, not too many bikes, etc.
  • The scenery is pretty. I like the shoulder season access there because of the dry micro-climate. I don’t ride there much in the summer because it is a long drive for me and it tends to get hot.

What are your LEAST favorite things about riding in the Horseshoe Canyon area? (common themes below)

  • Bovine is not a pleasant climb
  • All the trails have at least one or more sections that are poorly designed. All of the trails can and should be rideable in both directions. In the sections where some are too steep, there are good options to reroute the trail and it can still be fun to ride in both directions.
  • Hunting season fear, some trails getting cupped/rutted.
  • Too hot mid-summer when the trails get chewed up and dusty.
  • The cow poo, cow tracks and the new map signs aren’t oriented to the trail system
  • The drive from Victor
  • Having to start off with the big climbs but then you are up and can enjoy the rides so it works!
  • Ruts on channel lock. Overgrown on Sodbuster (I get it) in wet years. Soggy creek crossing on Shark’s Belly all season long and often on lower Channel Lock, where cows usually are.
  • Distance from my house…need a teleporter!
  • That it’s 15-20 min drive across the Valley to get there….
  • It would be nice if there were some more technical trails there – more rock features, jumps, etc. Sodbuster is pretty tame, in general, too. My only real complaint is that there aren’t more trails!
  • Lack of lower trail parking (e.g., Channel Lock, Bovine)
  • The trails are super rutted out I think from dirt bikes, horses and erosion. It’s a bit of a drive – I’d rather spend a little extra time in the car to rally to Munger trails.
  • Channel Lock and Bovine getting very deep and risk hitting pedals. Lots of mileage that better utilized could really be amazing. But a fair amount of the mileage can be improved.
  • Going up or down Channel Lock. Don’t get me wrong I love that descent but every time I feel like I got away with something. For the amount of people out there, making that an easy approach both up and down would allow kids/ beginners to get up and ride Southbound.
  • Bovine and Burg climb. The mud pit at the start of Channel Lock.
  • Lack of motorized trail options
  • The muddy stream crossing a short way up Channel Lock from the gate is a pain in the ass. It stayed wet even in a long dry hot summer. It is slippery enough that I fell in once a few years ago on my bike. This needs a bridge!
  • Being hazed by large trucks typically
  • Southbound could be one of the best trails in the area if it didn’t have so many unnecessary turns. The views are incredible though.

What improvements would you like to see implemented in the Horseshoe Canyon area? (check all that apply)

  • More trails! and some reroutes on some of the existing trails
  • Wider wooden bridges. The narrow ones scare me
  • Bridges over water and mud on Sharks Belly.
  • More trails! options for additional loops that can link into the existing trails out there. maybe another south facing/sage trail, as those seem to dry out fast & allow for some nice early/late season riding…like something that loops to the west of Bovine
  • Signs/Maps at the bottom of Bovine and Channel Lock
  • Single track connectors as alternatives to the double track in the middle for making figure-8s and other loop patterns?
  • I would NOT like to see one way trails or flow trails. These are multi use trails, making them faster is dangerous for other users.
  • Legalize Training Wheels so there are more legit parking opportunities
  • Another flatter climb up from bottom would be good. Beginners and kids would find it much more enjoyable if it wasn’t anaerobic up the initial climb (ex: Bovine and Channel lock)
  • Jumps! Something like Drake.

If any of the above improvements were to be implemented in the Horseshoe Canyon area, what are your priorities (list improvement, trail name)? (common themes below)

  • Example- South Fork of Horseshoe trail has a section that has been rerouted 3 times in the last 12 yrs. There are way too many trails that need work in the valley. So good layout is so important that you’re not stuck doing the same sections over and over again. Burgh, Probation.
  • Trails in north side (Bovine, Southbound etc.) are great. Trails on south side of the paved road seem too rutted/steep lack of loops. Don’t ride this area b/c trails seem not suited for bikes.
  • The muddy weird eroded water bar that leads to a couple slippery 2x10s on Shark’s Belly.
  • Sharks Belly more bridges
  • Drainage issues, new features/connectors, signage.
  • Just keep up with maintenance would be a great start! Improved drainage on Probation and a few other squishy areas. The bridges on Shark’s Belly were a great idea back in the day, they could use some TLC in a few places…if they already haven’t.
  • A downhill only flow trail
  • Definitely improve the draining along Bovine to promote drying out – other trails handle moisture well. Also a few corners ‘could’ be re-graded but it’s really not that bad. Maybe a new Downhill only trail could be added w/ some more for type features…
  • Adding more technical alt-lines (maybe of more rocks on Southbound, or more jumps on Channel Lock?) 2. Adding more trails in general (like the singletrack connectors in the middle) 3. I guess adding a true downhill-only trail back to the road could be nice
  • I’d like to see more natural technical features emphasized, and for Horseshoe to be developed with more technical challenges in mind. I think we have PLENTY of machine-built flow trail options already.
  • Trailhead facilities.
  • I would LOVE to see more technical wood or rock features; anything to challenge me and keep me coming back!
  • Adoption of training wheels
  • Trail drainage has been improved over the last couple of years, but can always be improved. The dished out/deep trails need some work.
  • I think a directional up and downhill only option on the face (Bovine/Channel lock face) would be great! A flowy downhill with a few features would probably help this trail network stay sexy to rider’s mid-summer.
  • 1) Add a flow trail with some jump line options. 2) Add some rock gardens. 3) Improve the parking lot
  • Probation- Trail Alignment, descending technical black flow trail with alternate lines and natural features. Burg- Technical descending trail New trail- ascending only to access probation/burg Channel lock- trail alignment, ascending Bovine- Trail alignment, flow trail with features, descending
  • Channel Lock and Bovine very deep. Bovine could be stretched out. Connect Sharks Belly at Probation junction to eastern end of Sodbuster, redo/repurpose Probation, etc. and Sodbuster. Bumper/Cody’s needs improved drainage and some rerouteSouth trail more/better drainage.
  • Lower half of Channel Lock needs reroute as is deeply channelized. By lessening the grade more families will be able to use this network. Bovine has almost forty water bars on it. This is an unsustainable design that needs to be rebuilt.
  • Reroute channel lock 2. Training wheels. 3. Improve parking at bovine 4. Decrease grade on bumper/Cody’s, where the moose was 2 years ago 5. Finish drainage/ geotechnical work on Sharks Belly
  • More natural obstacles like the small drop at the top of Channel Lock…and the rock on Southbound. I don’t enjoy the loose gravel on Southbound all that much.
  • The short bridge on lower Channel Lock
  • Double the mileage on bovine by adding switchbacks on the hill making it a beginner’s friendly trail for climbing. If getting to Sharks Belly was easier, it would surpass the southern end as far as use. Lots of hillside on Bovine to make the trail longer and friendlier.
  • Make southbound flow reasonably well.

Have you volunteered at a Horseshoe Canyon trail work day in the last 2 years?

What does the Horseshoe Canyon trail system look like to you in 3-5 years? (common themes below)

  • Continued to be maintained and rerouted for the enjoyment of all types of users
  • Double the mileage, it makes sense to has a cluster of trails in certain areas. Good terrain, early and late season riding.
  • Develop south side trails to be similar to north. Also, having more moderate trails in general for kids, beginners etc. Start to, have a variety of difficulties ala Moab so riders with different objectives all have something to ride.
  • About the same. just a little more polished in areas of erosion.
  • A diverse area that many users can enjoy, with trails rated green to black, ample parking/facilities, good signage, and wider trails, to help with passing and also maintain the quality of the trail, during runoff, high use/race periods.
  • I think it should still be a multi-use, in all directions! Maintain some rough areas that suffer from erosion, build a few more natural features, if possible, like ledge drops, etc. These trails were built to be solid cross country trails that anyone and everyone could ride, no DH!
  • 1-2 more trails with at least one being more advanced (aerobically challenging) uphill and more challenging and or flow trail downhill
  • Mostly the same, maybe an additional trail? improvements to the little dirt road getting up to the bovine parking lot?
  • More extensive, downhill only trail for coming down to the road unimpeded and not having to deal with fast downhillers when going up.
  • Nice balance of well-maintained trial, with wilderness experience -not too many riders… but fun meeting place
  • ..more of the same, only better. Keep the low-key nature, improve a few of the amenities (i.e., toilet facilities), improve access, but minimize overuse/abuse (if that’s possible).
  • An area that people actually want to ride all season because its super fun with good connectivity and technical options and trails
  • Bovine stretched out, improved drainage, rehabbed/rebuilt to get rid of how deep it has gotten. Connect Bovine and Channel Lock near bottom if possible. Sharks Belly-get out of muddy areas. New trail Sharks Belly to end of Sodbuster/Southbound junction. Complete rebuild/reroute of Probation/Sodbuster
  • Easier climb in. At least one trail that has a sustainable jump line in it, and reduction of maintenance from improved trail designs.
  • Community hub. Mostly beginner intermediate trails that are accessible to all. Better parking.
  • More trails. Perhaps a single track from channel lock to the parking lot so no need to ride the road.
  • Easier climb up either Bovine or Chanel Lock. Flow and or technical one-way trail down. Wood features and good drainage is always good to
  • Not having to drive to South Valley to ride technical/fun trails.
  • Most Radical indeed
  • A fun place to take my kids in the spring and fall.

Are you aware of the reason for the seasonal closures from November 30 – April 15th at Horseshoe?

Where do you live?