Fed Money Brings Teton Pass Path Closer to Completion

Wyoming and Idaho have moved one step closer to completing a pathway over Teton Pass that could connect networks in both states.

A federal grant of $1.3 million to the City of Victor will pay for construction of almost two miles of paved pathway from Moose Creek in Idaho east to the Wyoming state line.

That leaves just six more miles of pathway to build on the west side of Teton Pass, which would then connect to the two Teton community pathway systems at the pass summit.

Officials and supporters in both states were pleased with the news.

“It’s our piece of the puzzle to get the trail up over the pass,” said Victor Mayor Zach Smith. Smith said he was looking forward to a completed pathway, which would provide a tourism boost to the region.

“This is a critical step in realizing a long-standing goal of a pathway connection between Jackson and Victor,” said Teton County Commissioner Ben Ellis. “I commend the community leadership and the mayor of Victor for moving this project forward and hope Teton County can build our part soon,” he said.

The grant is from the new Federal Lands Access Program, which provides transportation investments for projects that connect communities with public lands. The Idaho grant committee was impressed with the community partnership supporting the project and the vision of connecting Victor and Wilson over Teton Pass. Project partners are still working on grant details and fund availability, which are subject to appropriations from Congress.

Wyoming Pathways Executive Director Tim Young helped Victor officials prepare the grant application last winter. The Teton Basin Ranger District, Teton Valley Trails and Pathways, Friends of Pathways and others also helped with the grant application.

Teton County applied for a similar grant for the remaining six-mile path section from state line to the pass, but was not successful. Support is building from both sides of the pass for Teton County Wyoming to try again. The next federal grant deadline is this October.

The Teton Centennial Trail Project began with collaborative project on both sides of Teton Pass with a federal grant from 2000-2004. In Wyoming, it funded the Trail Creek Trailhead, and pathway from Wilson along WY-22 to the Old Pass Road.

In Victor, several miles of pathway and the Old Jackson Highway section to Moose Creek were paved in 2003. That pathway directly connects to the rail-trail pathway that runs north to Driggs, Idaho, and the growing system of Teton County Idaho pathways.

The next Idaho goal is to connect Driggs to Tetonia and the existing 30-mile Tetonia to Ashton rail-trail, and eventually to reconnect the rail-trail to West Yellowstone, Montana.

On the Wyoming side, the pathway and Old Pass Road connects from Wilson to the top of Teton Pass, part of the approximately 60-mile pathway system in Teton County and Grand Teton National Park.

The potential to create a regional pathway system will have positive benefits on both sides of the Tetons, Young said.

“Connecting a pathway over Teton Pass improves the travel and tourism draw for both communities,” he said. “It creates a sustainable tourism resource for visitors to enjoy a healthy, safe, car-free bike vacation visiting beautiful Wyoming and Idaho towns and the fantastic public lands between,” he said.

Many national tour groups are already attracted to Jackson Hole, which has been designated a “Gold Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists. Last year, 400 cyclists rode over Teton Pass during the Tour de Wyoming.