Jackson has a reputation for pushing the bar (one that it rightly deserves). Seemingly everyone in the community pursues at least a few outdoor activities, feverishly. Fly fishing, whitewater paddling, steep skiing, and technical mountaineering … just to name a few. It's not terribly surprising, either. Located between the Tetons and Yellowstone, in a county that is 80 percent public land, the options for are nearly endless.
As an avid trail runner, I’ve always had Jackson on my list. Iconic trails through Grand Teton National Park, steep climbs up the local ski hill Snow King, and tons of mixed-used single track just outside of town.
It's got something for everyone. I decided to visit this fall and explore as much as I could of the extensive trail network. A lucky weather window and some sound advice from local friends made it one of the best trips in a long time. Here are a few of my favorites from our time in and around Jackson, Wyoming.
National Elk Refuge
We wanted to camp during our trip and got an insider tip to check out Elk Ridge, a half hour northeast of town. Actually located on National Forest land, with free designated spots and incredible views of the Tetons, we weren't disappointed. Even better, the network of dirt forest service roads and trails provided us ample opportunities to squeeze in an early morning run more than once.
Cache Creek Trails
If rolling trails through a variety of forests and grasslands are your thing, look no further. A short fifteen-minute drive from downtown, the Cache Creek trail network is extensive, and worth exploring. There are options for short 2 or 3-mile loops, and enough single track for long 20-mile runs, too. Bonus points for those who jump into Cache Creek at the end of their workout.
We drove into Jackson from the west, over the pass. We stopped on the top to take in the views and get our bearings, and to our delight, found a trailhead. Eager to stretch our legs from a long drive we threw on our trail shoes and took off, chasing daylight on a gradual climb. This entire run is just under 4 miles, and the views are worth every stride.
For some of the best views of the Tetons, you'll need to stick to the eastern side of the valley. My recommendation is Jackson Peak, just up the road from our campsite on Elk Ridge. A 13-mile out-and-back with a few thousand feet of climbing, this is best done as a long run with a friend.
The local legburner. For those who live and work in town, this is a perfect lunch workout. Only a mile and a half each way, Josie’s Ridge climbs 1,500 feet to the top, following a trail full of switchbacks. (Kudos to those who can run the entire thing without stopping for air.)
Wilson Canyon Trail
Like many others on this list, Wilson is a stout climb, from the trailhead to the summit of Snow King Mountain. A 12-mile out-and-back, with many options to shorten, lengthen, or adventure, this trail network just south of town has options for anyone.
Teton Crest Trail
Undoubtedly the granddaddy of the region, the Crest Trail is a 45-mile (for those who do the entire thing from Phillips Pass, over Hurricane and Paintbrush Pass, all the way to String Lake) pilgrimage along the top of Teton National Park. The runs south to north and has some of the most scenic vistas I've ever run past. For this run alone, it’s worth the journey.
All Photos by Andy Cochrane.
More Trail Running Content From ASN