This is Trail Talk for the week starting Aug. 7. The News&Guide compiles reports on trail conditions from three major agencies that manage public lands in the area.
Turn here to find out where to go, which trails are not recommended and what to consider when venturing into the backcountry.
Officials recommend you always pack warm clothing, rain gear, extra food and water and emergency supplies in case circumstances cause you to be out longer than planned. Visitors should remember both national parks in the area require permits for any overnight stays in the backcountry.
Yellowstone National Park
The Mount Holmes Trail west of the junction with the Trilobite Lake Trail and the summit of Mount Holmes is now open. The trail closure has been lifted and the investigation wraps up after structure fire staff cleaned up the site and mitigated all of the hazards. The investigation confirmed that it was a lightning strike that burned the building top down.
Bear Management Area:
In order to reduce human-related impacts on bears in high-density grizzly bear habitat the park has established several bear management areas that restrict or limit use of trails. Reference the park’s website for further details and locations of closure area.
Grand Teton National Park
Snow conditions and ice ax and crampons reminder: Ice axes, crampons and knowledge in their use are essential for crossing snow that is steep, hard packed or with serious consequences below. Snow conditions that hikers will meet in the northern reaches of the trails will vary, but much of the snow is still hard packed and requires an ice ax and crampons to get through. Knowledge of self-arrest and ice ax handling is strongly encouraged before attempting a high elevation trail. Even the most experienced mountaineers can be lulled into a false sense of safety. Remember, it’s better to take an ice ax and not need it than vice versa. Know your limits and always turn around if you feel unsafe.
Extreme caution is advised for anyone venturing into high-elevation areas. Hikers should be cautious crossing snow, as warming temperatures may cause it to be fragile. Hikers should also be mindful when passing through the many avalanche debris zones that remain in the Tetons as it can be easy to become disoriented in these locations.
Bear and food storage safety reminder
Proper storage of food items and responsible picnicking are vitally important in bear country. Picnickers should have only immediate use items within arm’s reach so if a bear approaches food items can be quickly gathered and the opportunity for the bear to receive a food reward is removed. Visitors should store food and scented items in bear-resistant food lockers that are located throughout the park or a hard-sided vehicle. Once a bear acquires human food it loses its fear of people and may become dangerous. Please report any bear activity or human-bear interactions to a park ranger or visitor center. Park visitors are reminded that all campgrounds and developed areas should be clean and free of trash and food. Do not burn waste in fire rings or leave litter in campsites. Fire rings should be free of trash before vacating a campsite.
The Valley Trail and lakeshore trails are snow free. Bugs are out. If hiking, you may want to carry insect repellent.
Cascade Canyon: Clear to the forks. Cascade North Fork is snow-free to Lake Solitude. Snow remains around the lake and lake is still partially frozen. Cascade South Fork is snow-free except for a couple of patches of snow on the switchbacks up toward Hurricane Pass, but they are easily avoided.
Death Canyon: Trail clear of snow. Mud from last quarter of camping zone to Fox Creek Pass, one or two patches of snow. Many stream crossings.
Garnet Canyon: Clear of snow from Lupine to 3 mile junction. A few patches of snow remain to the meadows. Expect patches of snow along the South Fork, ice axe advised. Along the North Fork, the summer route is usable with one small snow crossing above the caves. Fixed lines are now the preferred route on the headwall as there is no snow to cross above or below the lines. Meadows: All bear boxes out and many sites free of snow. Caves: The bear box is melted out and sites are snow-free. Moraine: snow-free. Lower saddle: snow-free.
Granite Canyon: Clear of snow.
Paintbrush Canyon: All clear to Holly Lake and Upper Paintbrush. Significant snow remains on Paintbrush Divide. Although some areas near the top of the divide can be bypassed on loose rock and scree, an ice ax is still needed for safe travel across steep snowfields below. Extreme caution advised to anyone attempting. Divide is more mountaineering than hiking. Ice ax, stiff boots and crampons are needed. Need to be comfortable traversing snow.
Teton Crest Trail: As of right now the Teton Crest Trail is primarily snow free. Areas like Hurricane Pass are now passable without special equipment, however, Paintbrush Divide remains an area of high consequence for those without an ice ax and the proper knowledge of its use. Be safe and know your limits.
Area and temporary road closures affecting trail access:
Road work crews will begin fog sealing the U.S. Highway 89/191/26 within Grand Teton National Park at two locations concurrently. The first work location is near the South Gate of Yellowstone and to the south. The second work location will be from the park boundary east of Moran and then south. Travelers should anticipate up to 15-minute delays with each section of road work, for a maximum cumulative delay of 30 minutes. Road work will take place between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Updated road status and conditions are available by calling the park road information line at 739-3682 and on the park’s website, Facebook and Twitter.
Leigh Lake Portage has a temporary closure for wildlife protection.
Willow Flats area trails closure has been extended until further notice.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Summer is in full swing and it’s a great time to go out and enjoy your public lands. The Jackson District has 800 miles of trail to explore for all types of uses. The U.S. Forest Service works with volunteer groups and partners, and employs a trail crew of six through state grants each summer to work on area trails. Trails take constant maintenance to keep open and passable to the public. Our trail system would not exist if not for the constant work put in each year. If you see folks out working on trails, thank them for helping provide us all the opportunity to enjoy our public lands.
Last week the U.S.F.S. Jackson Trail Crew backpacked into the Gros Ventre Wilderness to repair eroded tread on the Bear Cabin Creek Trail and cleared trees on the Grizzly Basin Trail, Dry Fork Trail, and Gros Ventre River Trail. USFS Wilderness Rangers cleared trees from the Flat Creek Trail, the Highline Trail, the Little Granite Creek Trail and the Granite Creek Trail to Turquoise Lake. The Friends of Pathways youth crew completed several projects, including a turnpike on the Hagen Trail, benching on the Ferrins Trail and Sink or Swim Trail and clearing drains and trees on Black Canyon Trail.