Mountain Biking’s Best Kept Secret: Teton Valley

Situated on the west side of Grand Teton National Park, and just to the south of Yellowstone, is Teton Valley Idaho-Wyoming: arguably one of the best-kept secrets in mountain biking*.

By Tim Adams
Reproduced with permission from Cycling Utah

A community of roughly 8,000 people. Teton Valley for decades was best known for its agriculture, world class fly fishing, hiking/camping, and 500″ of “cold smoke” powder skiing annually at the Grand Targhee Resort. Teton Valley is also home to a network of approximately 400 miles of trails (about half of which is diverse single track). Combine that with moderate summer temperatures and low humidity and it’s easy to argue that the mountain biking In Teton Valley rivals that of the best destinations in the intermountain west.

Teton Valley mountain biking is divided into three sections, each of which is only minutes from town: see the map for details. The west side of the valley is home to the Big Hole Range, where riders can enjoy classic two- to three-hour rides in storied Horseshoe Canyon. West side trails offer a wide variety of terrain from classic cross-country, single track banked turns to sweet flowing descents that offer spectaculars views of the legendary Teton peaks to the east.

Moving south from the Big Holes and near the town of Victor, intrepid riders find some of more epic trails in the Valley. Hardy cyclists log rides from 4-8 hours depending on muscle and lung capacities (the Valley sits at roughly 6200′ MSL, and rides can top out as high as 10,000′). There’s the occasional hike-a-bike, but the reward of 1,000′ descents makes it all worthwhile. Victor also offers some of the best Valley trails for the quick after-work ride: “Rush Hour” got its name from commuters coming back home from Jackson Hole. South-end rides also end up within easy reach of two local breweries Grand Teton and Wildlife Brewing offering award-winning microbrews for rehydration.

The east side of the valley, encompassing part of Wyoming, accesses the fabled Teton Mountain range, and a distinctly diverse riding experience. Rides like Aspen Trail, Mill Creek, Sheep Bridge Trail (a Teton Canyon trail that’s perfect for very young riders, or for a first and forgiving taste of single track), are signature locals’ favorites. And no tour of the east side is complete without a visit to Grand Targhee Resort, where chairlift-accessed or ride-to X-C and DH trails (nearly 50 miles of trail will be available by end of summer) and a new bike park are top notch.

So how does a beneath-the-radar Valley nestled in the shadows of the Tetons get to be “the place” for summer mountain biking in the Northern Rockies? Volunteerism and philanthropy figure strongly into the area culture: volunteer trail building has been a steady and passionate pursuit for the last 15 years or so. Whether through local non-profits like Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, or through a more grass roots effort like “Tuesday Dig Nights”, Valley rider-builders are relentless in their pursuit of building and maintaining the perfect singletrack lines. The wealth of natural resource in Teton Valley has led to local businesses and groups looking for ways to support the trail-building cause, as well as to promote the fabulous mountain bike riding opportunities here.

One example is the Wydaho Rendezvous Mountain Bike Festival, launched four years ago to highlight riding and hospitality in Teton Valley. This Labor Day weekend festival (4th annual) brings hundreds of people to Teton Valley to experience three days of clinics, bike demos, races, and for-fun group rides, among other activities. And mountain bike supporters here are serious about developing area resources.

Teton Valley riders recently formed a Chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association called “Mountain Bike the Tetons” (MBT), working to enhance both trails and economic opportunities through promoting Teton Valley as a destination for summer mountain biking. These efforts and organizations help to both raise awareness and make funds available to ensure that current and future generations of riders can enjoy and support Teton valley trails and riding opportunities.

With ideal summer riding weather, three well-stocked bike shops, a world-class ski and summer resort, uncrowded trails, and a laid-back, friendly community, Teton Valley is making a name for itself as a mountain biking destination in the Northern Rockies.

Tim Adams is the Executive Director Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP). Find out more about Teton Valley trails of Idaho and Wyoming at tvtap.org.

Download the Cycling Utah July 2013 Issue