Togwotee Pass Continental Divide Trail Project
July 20th 2020 Update: Work Begins!
Wyoming Pathways’ Executive Director Tim Young met with work crews and members of the Shoshone National Forest Staff to get things rolling on this wonderful project. The group walked the flag line from Togwotee Pass over Sublette Pass and down to Brooks Lake. Trail builder Adam Buck and his Pathfinder Trail Building crews are on site with three machines and they got started building right away.
Construction is anticipated to take about a month and we hope to complete the nearly four miles of trail within that period. You never know what sort of challenges you might encounter when building trails, but we hope that Adam and his crews and South Zone Trails Coordinator Chris Sellars and his crews and the Montana Conservation Corps crews can make that happen. Chris Sellars thinks so, expecting CDT through hikers to begin using this trail section this year. He also thinks it will become very popular as an accessible alpine walk or bike, being only 25 miles outside of Dubois and 50 miles from downtown Jackson.
Tim has promised to visit the work site at least once a week, so expect updates on progress and some more photos of this beautiful area as the project progresses. As always with new trail in a cool place, we can hardly wait to see it finished and then go check it out.
July 2020 Update:
Wyoming Pathways’ partnership with the Shoshone National Forest to build a new section of the famous Continental Divide National Scenic Trail near Togwotee Pass west of Dubois, WY. continues in 2020. Executive Director Tim Young just walked the route with South Zone Trails Coordinator Chris Sellars to finalize trail design and layout, and the trail crews will start July 20 for approximately one month of trail construction planned. These are part of the Wyoming section of the CDT, which runs 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico along the continental divide.
This is a stunningly beautiful 4-mile new section of trail that flows along from Togwotee Pass below the Breccia Cliffs, over 10,000’ Sublette Pass, and down the north side to a meadow above Brooks Lake. This new natural surface trail replaces the uninspiring old on-road route that went down the Brooks Lake road to the US-26 highway.
The BTNF has been working to improve the trails from Togwotee south to Sheridan Pass, approximately 14 miles, and the Shoshone is working on the 10-mile sections north of Togwotee Pass to Bear Cub Pass. These new trails are open to shared nonmotorized use, including hiking, mountain bikes and horses.
Soon a new trailhead is planned on top of Togwotee Pass to provide access for those seeking an accessible alpine day trip. The area is unique in that it starts at 9,659’ and provides an alpine experience close to a paved highway access point.
Wyoming Pathways hired Pathfinder Trail Building, a professional trail construction firm, to come in and turn these flag lines into a wonderful new addition to the CDT. We have high expectations, as this is the same organization that built the well-received Upper Brewers Trail in Sinks Canyon near Lander, WY in 2018. They will have assistance from a Montana Conservation Corps crew, along with support from the Shoshone South Zone Trail Crew. Wyoming Pathways will be there to get them started and will be monitoring things as the project progresses. We will be sure to keep you posted as well, so check back regularly.
September 2019 Update:
Building on the success of last year’s Upper Brewer’s Trail Project in Lander, the Shoshone National Forest invited Wyoming Pathways to assist in a new project to construct a missing section of the iconic 3100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) that connects from Canada to Mexico. The new piece is near Brooks Lake, with access off Togwotee Pass US-26.
The Forest Plan calls for a proper trail to be built to replace the current route, which simply follows the Brooks Lake road, crosses the highway and then goes up old logging roads towards Union Pass, not a good hiking experience. To rectify this, the Shoshone NF and Bridger Teton NF worked together to develop a new alignment that would run over the top of Togwotee Pass. This would be a major improvement for the trail, taking advantage of the unparalleled scenic beauty of the Togwotee Pass area.
The Togwotee Pass CDT Trail Project is being funded by the Shoshone NF with a partnership agreement with Wyoming Pathways to provide our expertise to oversee construction contract to build the trail. Chairman Bruce Burrows, Board Member Todd Thibodeau and Executive Director Tim Young have been in the field to help create this “new and improved” alignment of the CDT. Professional trail builder Adam Buck’s firm Pathfinder has been retained to build the trail, beginning in late August.
The project got moving this July, when Bruce, Todd and Tim met with Shoshone South Zone Trails Coordinator Chris Sellers on a field trip to review the flag line from Togwotee Pass to Sublette Pass and then down toward Brooks Lake. The group checked grades (targeted to be in the sustainable 5-8% range) and made minor adjustments to the proposed alignment to make it more fun and sustainable for trail users, which are anticipated to include hikers, mountain bikers, and horse users.
The project also includes plan to build a new trailhead built off the top of the pass, so people will have a proper place to park off the highway. The rerouted section of the CDT will include about 10 miles of new trail on the Shoshone NF from Bear Cub Pass to Togwotee Pass. It will then shift to the west side onto the Bridger-Teton NF for another 14 miles of connected new single track to Sheridan Pass. The Bridger-Teton NF will be working on sections in their jurisdiction this summer as well.
Upon completion of these reroutes, forest visitors could access up to 25 miles of new high-quality CDT trail in some of the most scenic terrain that Wyoming has to offer. With wonderful scenery and a great trail, we anticipate that this section of the CDT is going to become a popular alpine day-hike and MTB adventure destination, along with serving the long-distance hikers that do the CDT. It will create new economic benefits for the Dubois area and enhance the area travel and tourism opportunities.
This year’s trail work on the 2.5-mile section will tentatively be complete by the end of September. The trail is alpine in nature at up to 10,000’ elevation, so be prepared for mountain weather, and please, don’t forget your bear spray!