This week the crew built a turnpike on the Phillip’s Connector trail and worked with Randy and Cam to buff out sections of the Ridge trail.  Their main project this week however was closing and rehabbing 38 short cuts on the Sink or Swim trail.  I’ll start with some history, the Sink or Swim trail was a user created trail adopted by the USFS in 1995.  Early maps of it around that time show it labeled as the Old Man Flats trail denoting where it crosses the ski run of the same name on Snow King.  There were several variations that went up or down depending on where people hiked or rode their horses, these were consolidated into one trail around 2003 and to the best of my knowledge these ups and downs were the origination of the “Sink or Swim” name.  More recently numerous short cuts have evolved for what I see as one of 3 reasons.  To be clear, while hikers and horse riders cause their fair share of trail issues, this appears to be solely caused by mountain bikes.  They seem to be caused by:

1. People who want to go fast in a straight line.  To this I say there’s a sport called road biking you might like.  If you want to improve your Strava time, improve your skill, don’t bring the trail down to your level.

2. People avoiding a difficult section of trail.  While I can empathize with this more I still say don’t bring the trail down to your level, practice to bring your skill up to the level of the trail.  This ethic is similarly applied to climbing, skiing, and mountaineering.

3. People trying to create jumps or features.  Remember this is a multi-use trail and the USFS wants to see development like this only in the resorts or on the approved Teton Freedom Rider trails on the pass that have a dedicated trail crew to make sure these features are safe and well maintained.

We looked at each short cut and chose to keep the one that was the most sustainable.  This usually meant the one that had a grade reversal where water could drain off the trail naturally.  Sink or Swim has no drainage features because of the many ups and downs on the trail compared to say Black Canyon which is almost all down and has 128 drains that the crew clears every year to keep water from eroding the trail.  If both options were sustainable we chose to keep the one that slowed users, again looking at the multi-use trail and trying to make sure user groups get along.  We closed each by digging it up, re-seeding it, putting down erosion netting made out of shredded Aspens and biodegradable netting, the secured large logs in place, and covered the whole area with green limbs where they weer available.  Hopefully this will be a solution that works for everyone and if you have any concerns please feel free to reach out to me.  Hope everyone has a fun weekend and enjoys the Teton Pass Hill Climb and the Teton Food Tour!

This week the crew teamed up with a great volunteer group from the Beckett YMCA to build 2 bridges on the History Trail.  These are a continuation of the Teton Bridge Project from last year bringing the grant total to 17 bridges built or replaced on the Teton Pass trail system.  The dimensional lumber bridges go together quickly but require many hands to carry all the lumber and tools needed into the field to construct them.  Randy and Cam cleared some trees on Phillip’s Canyon and Chris got a few on West Game that fell during all the wind this week.  If you see a tree down on the trails give us a shout and we will send one of the crew or ambassadors out to get it.  The crew also fixed a turnpike on the History Trail and built a new one on the Hagen trail at a wet spot that developed over the winter.  The Hagen trail is in prime condition right now, especially if you are a horsefly so be sure to go early in the day or keep moving on your adventure.

All the front country trails are good to go!  After a slow start tot he summer the warm weather has melted back the snow and its a prime time to get out on your favorite trails.  This week the crews finished a turnpike in Cache Creek, improved all the drainage ditches around the Crater bridges, fixed bench on the Ferrin’s trail, buffed out sections of the Ridge trail with Randy and Cam, and started on 2 bridges on the History trail that we will build with a volunteer group next week.  The Cache to Game race is going on this Saturday morning if you’re looking for a fun run or hike to start your weekend.  There will also be some closures on the Phillip’s Ridge trail starting next week as the USFS continues their fuels reductions project.  Please heed the closures as crews will be chainsawing and dropping trees along the trail corridor.  Read the information on the kiosks and they will be in different areas each day but will be done by 4pm each day and are not working Sundays.

Well we made it to the 4th of July with some patches of snow left on the Arrow, Black Canyon, and Lithium trails due to a pretty good snow year and a cool spring.  Everything is passable out there with a little bit of walking over the few remaining drifts.  Crews cleared the Ridge, Phillip’s Pass, and Black Canyon this week as well as fixing a hole in the Arrow trail where an avalanche tore out a tree and roots across the middle of the trail.  The crew also shored up the bridge at the end of the Arrow trail, improved the switchbacks on the eastern side of Skyline, and cleared and opened Skyline for the year.  We also worked with a great group from Teton Science Schools who helped to build a turnpike on the Cache Creek trail.  Have a great holiday weekend!

Chris P likes to say that the Teton Pass trails are always good to go by July 4th, and it looks like it’ll be right down to the wire this year.  Snow drifts remain in shaded north facing areas and ridges and while passable provide some difficulty.  The Cache Game area and Munger Mountain are in great shape and our youth crew was able to install several turnpikes on Wilson and West Game this week to improve it before the Cache Creek Mountain Bike Race.  The Snow King Hill Climb running race is this Saturday and the Cache to Game running race is also coming up on July 13 if you’re looking for a fun run or hike.  Next week the crew will be working on clearing Blacks and Ski Lake to Phillips Pass as well as clearing and opening the Skyline trail for the season on Monday July 1!


The longest day of the year should be the warmest right?  With cool temps the trails are still in great shape and slowly melting out.  Most of the south facing trails on Teton Pass are good to go but there are still drifts lingering in the north facing trees.  The Teton Freedom Riders are having their first Pass Bash of the year tomorrow so head by the coach for a shuttle ride up the pass.  Everything on Snow King is dry and good to go and our ambassadors have been clearing some new downed trees from the winds this week off of Putt Putt and West Game.  Our Youth Trail Crew started this week and this hearty bunch had a busy week, unloading the 12,000 lbs of rock from the helicopter drops on Josie’s Ridge, clearing and cleaning drainage on Crater and History, brush cutting for line of sight on KC, and building a turnpike and reroute around a beaver pond on West Game.  Look for the crew out on the trails this summer and remember they always love treats after a hard days work.

Tree clearing, bridges, and helicopters what a fun week!  The crew cleared Big Rocks and Black Canyon up to Bridge 3 before hitting snow and Cam Eddy and an unknown trail Samaritan cleared Phillip’s Canyon and the Ridge trail from Fish Creek up to the snow line.  A few riders reported they were able to ride Arrow to Phillip’s Canyon with some hiking over snow drifts in the middle and also the Ridge trail by linking sections of Arrow, Snotel, and the BPA road to avoid most of the snow drifts.  The crew also replaced the bridge on the Phillip’s Canyon access trail from Fish Creek Rd. that had developed a crack after 2 winter of record snowfall.  Thursday we also had a ton of help from Teton Helitack, literally 12 tons of help from their training session where they dropped off twelve 1,000 pound loads of rock on Josies Ridge to continue the trail reinforcement project that we have been working on for a few years.  Josie’s Ridge is a the top end of what the soils here can sustain for trail steepness and by shoring up the steepest portions of the trail we can help ensure it retains its character as an uphill challenge for years to come.

Yay more rain!  The trails have definitely reached their saturation point since yesterday and should be avoided until it dries out on Sunday.  When it is like this I like to stay to the roads like Cache, Game, the BPA road, and even the Summit Road at Snow King.  They have much more gravel and are more hard packed so it is less likely you will damage them while recreating.  The Old Pass Road is also a good option and is plowed all the way to the top.  The crews are going to push up the Teton Pass trails next week and see how much we can clear before hitting the snow line.  Thanks to everybody who came and helped with National Trails Day projects in Cache Creek last Saturday!

Finally some sunshine!  This week helped the Snow King trail system dry out and it is now 99% snow free with a few lingering wind drifts near the top of Ferrins and the north side of the Cache Game divide.  The trail crews have cleared almost everything so it should be a good weekend to get out and explore, or better yet start your Saturday at National Trails Day at the Cache Creek trailhead to help Friends of Pathways and the Bridger-Teton with some trail projects in the morning.  We will have coffee and bagels before and beer and brats after to thank you for your hard work keeping the trails in good shape.  You can also explore Munger and the lower portion of the Teton Pass trails.  The crew will start clearing at Phillips Canyon next week and work up as the snow line recedes.

Ahh the winter that keeps on giving, we are still about a month behind last year in the trails drying out around the valley.  With the snow last night and rain in the forecast the upper elevations that were getting dry are pretty slimy and slick.  There may be some opportunities to get out during dry spells this weekend but I would recommend staying low and avoiding shady north facing trails.  The crew this week cleared Ferrins and Wilson Canyon and they are both dry up to the meadows.  Wilson Canyon has more water damage to the trail as the old cow retaining pond at the top has failed and water is running down the canyon for about a mile until it disappears underground.  The crew also cleared the lower parts of History, Crater, and Black Canyon on the pass.  There is still a lot of snow lingering in the trees there, but Jim Verdone was able to plow Old Pass Road so that is a good dry option.  If you see Jim give him a big thank you for all the work he is doing to keep the Old Pass Road in usable shape.  Have a fun weekend and hopefully we will get a little sunshine.