Greater Yellowstone Trail – New Connections Underway
The 180-mile Greater Yellowstone Trail (GYT) connects Jackson Hole Wyoming with West Yellowstone Montana via sections of the old Yellowstone Rail Line, going through Victor, Driggs, Tetonia, Ashton, and Island Park. Several additions are underway along this amazing bicycle and walking route that connects two National Parks with pathways, back roads, and rail trail sections through three states and three National Forests.
The vision for this regional trail developed from a 2015 planning effort Wyoming Pathways lead with local and regional partners. The communities along the route developed a Concept Plan for the GYT that includes maps of the proposed route, descriptions of the existing trails and pathways, and it prioritized projects needed to complete the GYT, with implementation steps to get there.
That Concept Plan has proved valuable in focusing the collective energy of the partners, and has resulted in funding for several major new pathway projects underway that will add new sections to the GTY regional trail adventure.
One section underway is the Teton Pass Trail between Wilson WY and Victor ID. This is a partnership with the City of Victor and Teton County Wyoming. Together the two secured federal FLAP grants that fund facilities like pathways connecting the Greater Yellowstone communities to their public lands.
The estimated $3.7 million construction project is in final design now and will build 2.5 miles of new pathway along parts of the old Jackson Highway from Moose Creek to Trail Creek Campground in Wyoming. The project includes a new bridge over Moose Creek and underpasses to the Forest Service Campgrounds at Mike Harris and Trail Creek. Construction is planned in 2019, provided the plans are completed to go to bid this winter.
With remaining grant funds, Teton County Wyoming will start engineering plans for the remaining 6-mile gap to the Teton Pass Summit, where cyclists can pick up the existing Old Pass Road and Jackson Community Pathways that already connect seamlessly all the way to Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. Teton County also applied for a new federal TAP grant to repave the Old Pass Road on the east side of Teton Pass above Wilson. News on that grant request is expected in November.
A second project underway involves the City of Driggs and new owners of the Huntsman Springs Resort. Mayor Hyrum Johnson and City staff are working to improve the connection from Driggs to Tetonia, and the Driggs pathways have been extended along the Resort. The City and partner nonprofit TVTAP are researching options along quiet county roads to better connect to Tetonia, where the amazing 30-mile Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail picks up.
Up north, partners in West Yellowstone continue to work on the 11-mile old Rail Trail that is needed to reconnect West with the Idaho border on Reas Pass, the historic crossing of the Continental Divide used to reach Yellowstone National Park. While planning for the new nonmotorized rail trail continues, the GYT uses an existing low volume gravel road that also connects from Island Park to West.
To help sustain the momentum, Wyoming Pathways is in the process of organizing a GYT Partners Update Meeting to share information and update of the Concept Plan so it continues to be a useful guide. A new website is also planned that will include an updated trail description to help visitors plan bicycle tours on the GYT, along with the latest advocacy news to support the full completion of this big adventure ride in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
View more photos from the Greater Yellowstone Trail