Summer Season 2018 Is Nearly Upon Us And Here’s The Beta From Targhee’s Master Trailbuilder
The bottomless snowpack of the 2017-18 Winter season, as it turns out, does actually have a bottom. As the scattered piles of remaining snow shrink, a wealth of trails emerge from beneath. The grass has greened up, the tacky dirt of Targhee’s singletrack is revealed, and a relief from the purgatory of shoulder season is on the horizon. Rejoice! With Grand Targhee’s Summer Opening Day right around the (banked) corner, June 15th, I decided to do some sleuthing into what we can expect for the 2018 riding season.
I have spent much of my working life as a trail professional, working the entire spectrum of trail systems from exclusive-wilderness to IMBA-rated frontcountry systems around the West. Naturally, I was curious to hear from Andy Williams, Grand Targhee’s Special Events/ Summer Trail Manager, about the upcoming 2018 summer season and, also, gather a perspective from someone who has dedicated so much time to creating and perfecting Grand Targhee’s acclaimed trails and bike park. Here’s what I got; some insights behind the radness of Targhee’s bike park.
Q: First and foremost, what are some new developments riders can look forward to for the 2018 mountain biking season at Grand Targhee?
A: “New trails! For those interested in both downhill and XC options, we have several new trails added to the system this season.
- Astro – Halfway finished last summer, the remainder of the trailwork will be completed this season, offering an additional three, large jumps near the bottom.
- Shake ‘Em On Down (Blue) – Intermediate downhill trail on Shoshone will allow for the opportunity to progress to bigger, burlier singetrack downhill trails around the mountain.
- Blondie (Blue/Black) – Handbuilt singletrack option presents the rider with a variety of trail transitions through the entire downhill. High-altitude riding, roots, rock gardens, and tight singletrack in the trees round out this trail’s character.
For those who like the variety of XC trails, from climbs to descents to spectacular views, here’s what’s cookin’ this season.
- Planet Claire (Blue) – A connector trail to Action Jackson/Andy’s Trail that takes you from the main parking area.
- Tall Cool One (Blue) – This trail will be a work in progress through the season; at its finish, it will be 6-7 miles long, connecting with More Cowbell but continuing to climb towards the top of Blackfoot. It will be a nice climbing trail, coupled with a rewarding downhill back to the bottom.
- New skills area and kid strider trail. The skills area will offer the opportunity to ride progression jump-lines, drops, as well as trail features like rock gardens, skinnies, and ladder bridges.”
Q: While Grand Targhee’s bike park/DH trails tend to be the most visible, there is also a great selection of XC trails in the system; what is your favorite xc trail/loop and why?
A: “My favorite trail is Perma-grin. Great flow and I love riding in the aspens. My favorite loop is Andy’s Trail to Colter’s Escape, up Rocky Mtn. Way and Buffalo Soldier, and back on Action Jackson.”
Q: As a long-time trailbuilder at Grand Targhee during the summer, what keeps bringing you back to these trails summer after summer?
A: “I have the best job! Getting to layout and build trails, with the back drop of the Tetons.”
Q: Grand Targhee seems to be attracting more and more bike-specific events every summer; which ones are not to be missed this season?
A: “Pierre’s Hole 50/100, August 4th. This is the 10th year for Pierre’s. It’s a very challenging course; the one lap, 31 miles, to three laps, 95 mile, race occurs on 95% singletrack.”
“Montana Enduro, August 25-26. This is for those whom racing an XC course is not really their thing, but riding downhill (fast) is. Come on out for the finals of the Enduro series and hang out with other riders who love riding fast.”
“Wydaho Bike Fest- August 31-September 3. One of the larger bike festivals in the West! Come out and try 2019 demo mtn. bikes along with group rides, clinics, and lots of fun on Targhee’s DH/XC/kids trails.”
“Idaho High School Race, September 9. In just the fourth year of the league, there will be close to 900 racers from across Idaho and parts of Wyoming convening on Grand Targhee.”
Q: As a trail professional, too, I was curious as to what you see as the defining, unique characteristics of Targhee’s trail system that separate it from others?
A: “The Targhee XC trail system contains something for everyone to ride, from young kids to your expert mtn. bike rider. All the trails are enjoyable to ride in either direction, and offer the rider some good, flowy singlettrack. Loops are set up so that you can ride as far as you want, but if you need to get back or call it a day you’re not that far from the base area. The views, flowers, and trees also add to a great experience, all-the-while being just a stones throw from the Tetons.”
This story was written by Emil Harry. Part-time snow reporter for Grand Targhee in the Winter and, now, a purveyor of Targhee’s brown pow for the Summer.