By Lynne Wolfe // Photography by Kayla Renie
I moved to the Tetons for the powder skiing … but it doesn’t always snow.
January of 2017. Snowfall was meagre. Skiing hurt my knees. So, when I was invited on a fat-bike ride by a friend, I was intrigued. Her loaner bike even had bar mitts, so my investment was minimal—cross-country ski clothes and some sturdy warm boots were easy to find in my closet. And off we went into Teton Canyon.
After a few minutes riding the groomed trail, I realized that fat biking was just like “riding a bicycle,” and so much fun. The fat tires allowed for bouncy progress across the snow, removing the air as the trail softened. And, using proper etiquette, we turned around once we started to leave shallow ruts.
In search of more challenging terrain, we headed south from the Teton Canyon winter parking lot to the Sheep Bridge Trail, which is user-compacted (snowshoers make great riding trails), rather than groomed by Teton Valley Trails and Pathways (TVTAP). Its narrower and softer tread took a lighter touch to navigate, while deep snow on the side offered a soft consequence for falling. The slower pace offered me an opportunity to soak in my silent, peaceful winter surroundings. And soon, I was hooked—another way to enjoy the long Teton winters! Today, powder droughts lead me to explore the current plethora of local, fat bike-specific singletrack and multiple-use trails, joined by friends eager for all levels of adventure.
So, I bought my first fat bike (which I quickly equipped with bar mitts). The Tetons have long been a hotbed for fat biking, so I was able to upgrade my bike via a lively market for used options.
Jackson Hole Nordic maps and grooming reports, jhnordic.com/best-fat-bike-trails-in-jackson-hole-and-teton-valley-id
Idaho State Trails interactive map, idaho.evtrails.com
Wyoming State Trails interactive map, wyo.evtrails.com
Teton Valley Trails and Pathways winter trails maps, tvtap.org/resources
Friends of Pathways Winter Grooming Trail Map, friendsofpathways.org/winter-grooming-trail-map
Useful clothing was easy to source. My on-hand, calf-high winter boots with gaiters kept the snow out. I wore light layers and a windbreaker (on top and bottom), plus a puffy jacket for snack breaks and as a backup for harsher weather. Then, I packed accessories galore: light gloves sufficed for inside the bar mitts, a Buff and beanie for head gear, and spare gloves and a warmer hat, just in case. I tried not to overdress; careful layer management kept me warm, but not too warm. And I used a small daypack for my puffy and other necessities, so I didn’t need to buy anything.
Groomed trails make for the best fat-bike riding, so up-to-date information is key. My first internet stops were the JH Nordic site (or app) and TVTAP website. Both boasted real-time condition updates and helpful overviews of maps, information, and agencies.
In Jackson, ride locations range from Cache Creek—with bike-specific singletrack groomed regularly by Friends of Pathways—to Forest Service roads, groomed through the Wyoming State Trails. Local favorites include Granite Creek, Gros Ventre Road, and a vast network of roads and trails on Togwotee Pass. Also consider Turpin Meadow Ranch, with bikes to rent, and up to ten miles of groomed trails available with a pass.
Passes and Support
(Most public trails are free, but donations are appreciated.)
Purchase a day or season Nordic pass to access Turpin Meadow (turpinmeadowranch.com) and Grand Targhee (grandtarghee.com) trails.
Donate to Friends of Pathways for enjoyment of the Cache Creek trails.
Grab a TVTAP trail sticker (plus, a “puppy pass,” if needed) to show your support of Teton Valley trails. tvtap.org/trail-stickers
Purchase an Idaho State Parks & Recreation “Trails Supporter” sticker. parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/activities/biking/non-motorized-trails-sticker
In Teton Valley, Idaho, TVTAP and a cadre of enthusiastic volunteers maintain an extensive winter trail system. Grand Targhee grooms up to seven miles of bike-specific singletrack, but higher snowfall amounts can make it challenging to upkeep (always check trail conditions). Idaho State Parks & Recreation maps are available on their website, and local favorites include Darby Canyon and the Horseshoe to Packsaddle Road.
Riding with a dog requires a leash and good manners. Leashes are mandatory at all trailheads, while dogs are prohibited altogether on the Southern Valley Trails in Victor and at Grand Targhee Resort.
Fat-bike rentals are available on both sides of the hill. Most rentals come with helmets, but be sure to ask about locks, bar mitts, flat kits, and car racks. Wheel Wranglers will also deliver rental bikes to your Jackson or Teton Valley-based residence or lodging.
If you’re just getting started, begin by riding flat roads and trails, then, with gumption and practice, venture further onto groomed Nordic tracks. And, who knows? Soon you may find yourself training for the Fat Pursuit in Island Park, Idaho, a 60K or 200K winter bike-packing race that takes you into the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and far from civilization.
*Note: Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks do not allow fat biking on the trails or roads groomed for Nordic skiing and snowmobiles. You can only ride on plowed roads.
Fat Bike Sales and Rentals
Teton Mountain Bike Tours tetonmtbike.com ¤ 307-733-0712
Hoff’s Bikesmith: hoffsbikesmith.com | 307-203-0444
Wheel Wranglers (with delivery): wheelwranglers.com | 307-690-2799
The Hub Bicycles: hehubbikes.com | 307-200-6144
Hoback Sports: hobacksports.com | 307-733-5335
REI: rei.com/stores/jackson-hole/bike-shop | 307-284-1938
Turpin Meadow Ranch: turpinmeadowranch.com/fat-tire-bike-rentals | 307-202-5215
Grand Targhee Resort: grandtarghee.com | 307-353-2300
Habitat: ridethetetons.com | 208-354-7669
Fitzgerald’s Bikes: itzgeraldsbicycles.com/teton-valley | 208-787-2453
Wheel Wranglers (delivers in Idaho, too!): wheelwranglers.com | 307-690-2799