GET OUT: Open trails

By on April 28, 2015

May means more ways to explore before June traffic arrives


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – The coming month marks the true beginning of the change of seasons. May Day. Some folks think of dancing around poles with ribbons while others honor it for the greater known International Workers Day. Throughout history, this month has marked change from the hanging of flower baskets to the monumental protests of workers. The first day of this month means something different to the bubble we know as Jackson, however. Closures will be lifted on trails and roads, which may signify freedom for some, or a lack thereof for others.

If you enjoy biking the Teton Park Road, it may be best to soak up the solitude this week. There is really nothing that compares to watching critters clatter across a frozen lake in the silence of a spring day. This seemingly endless road will soon be filled with vehicles driving in and out.

There is no need to fret though, because the opening of the park road also signifies quicker access to snow. While it seems the snowline is barely holding on from town, a 30-minute drive north will tell you a different story. Its also that much easier to escape town for a spur of the moment sunset at the String Lake Bridge. The alpenglow is often very dramatic at this time of year with the abundant snow and ice that can be seen on the North Face of Mount Owen.

For a short day trip, take a one-mile jaunt to Leigh Lake. Its simple enough with snowshoes that I can take a book and a chair to watch the mountains from a distance in the heat of the afternoon. Even if the snow gets soft during the day, I am OK with postholing for such a short distance. And keeping off of the lakes this time of year means I will not take an unexpected and icy swim.

The first of the month also means more things open in the Bridger Teton National Forest. The Gros Ventre and Shadow Mountain roads may open up. If the roads are still muddy, its always a good idea to stay off of them so that they will be in good shape throughout the summer. However, these roads, if dry, can be glorious for an evening cruise providing spectacular views from an angle that many humans may not have seen for a good six months.

GetOut2My favorite part of this time of year is the access to trails in town. You no longer need to brave the icy boot pack or patchy skin track on Snow King to get a workout. The game of bloody knuckles can soon come to an end. Life extends beyond the confines of Cache Creek and Snow King. Put your shorts on during these fantastically warm days and enjoy the excellently groomed Forest Service trails. Major trail openings in town include Josies Ridge and slopes above the Putt Putt trail.

It seems like a lot of trails are drier than usual this season. Though I cannot confirm the condition of north facing slopes, the sunny sides have little snow at lower elevations in the valley. I cannot speak on behalf of all citizens when I say May 1 leads to an increase in levels of happiness, but I see many pluses for the opening of in-town trails.

Especially in the off-season, there are fewer people on the bike trails and fewer dogs. This enables me to run, hike or bike with ease. In general, I find that there is way more to do. While running laps on High School Butte and playing basketball was quite fun, there are much longer loops and more widespread activities available with trail openings.

Some people derive joy in collecting antlers while others may want to take out their ATVs and dirt bikes. Whatever your wish, the possibilities are endless. It has been a long time since Jackson has had such a dry spring. I wish I could ensure these sun-filled, 65-degree days for the rest of the spring, but who knows how the weather could change in the coming weeks. Until then, enjoy the freedom of the road and trail openings. If the rain, sleet or snow decides to come, I will continue my search for other wonderful activities in the Teton area, while remembering the sunshine that I enjoyed this spring.


About Elizabeth Koutrelakos

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