This is Trail Talk for the week starting July 10. 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
High water caution: Rivers and streams are hitting their peak runoff levels. Streams are running high and are dangerous to cross. Streams that are crossable in the morning may rise to unsafe levels by the afternoon. Yellowstone does not have many bridges in the backcountry. Scout your routes in advance to avoid hazardous stream crossings.
Snow levels: Expect snow on trails above 9,000 feet.
Fires: Make sure your campsite allows campfires, and consider current weather conditions before building a fire. Fires are allowed only in designated fire rings.
Boating season: The boating season is open. As part of the park’s efforts to limit the introduction of aquatic invasive species, boats with sealed internal water ballast tanks are temporarily banned from the park. All boats require a permit and an aquatic invasive species inspection.
Horse use: Most trails are now open for overnight horse use. Both day and overnight horse use requires a permit. Visit the Yellowstone website for details on which trails are open and for permitting.
Backcountry food storage: All food, trash and odorous items must be properly stored — hung 10 feet above the ground and 4 feet from side supports or kept in the installed metal bear-proof boxes – whenever they are not in immediate use. Food caches are not allowed in the backcountry.
Grand Teton National Park
Trail conditions: Hikers should expect snow on trails above 9,000 feet. Avalanche awareness, knowledge and practice using an ice ax and extreme caution are advised for anyone venturing into high-elevation areas.
Boat permitting and use: Park boat permits and state of Wyoming aquatic invasive species decals are required for all motor and non-motor watercraft. Permits may be purchased at the Moose or Colter Bay visitor centers and the Jenny Lake Ranger Station. AIS decals may be purchased at the Signal Mountain Lodge front desk, Colter Bay Marina, Headwaters Lodge and Snake River Anglers at Dornans. Vessels must also be inspected at an AIS station before they are launched. The stations are located at the Moose and Moran entrances.
To help protect park waterways and native fish from the spread of aquatic invasive species, drain, clean and dry all equipment before entering a new body of water. Never empty containers of bait, fish, plants or animals into park waters.
Weather and lightning safety: Afternoon storms are common during the summer in Grand Teton National Park. Hikers should be prepared for the weather to change quickly even if the forecast calls for sunny skies. Check into a visitor center before your hike for an accurate forecast and always bring rain gear. Seek shelter if you see storm clouds or hear thunder, and if you can’t get to shelter in a storm, crouch on the ground with your weight on the balls of your feet, head lowered and ears covered. Never lie flat on the ground.
Fires: In areas where campfires are allowed, fires must be repeatedly doused with water and stirred. All logs and embers must be broken up and covered with dirt, and the campfire must be cold to the touch before leaving.
Area and road closures: Pavement work continues north of the airport. Expect 30-minute delays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Expect 15-minute delays on the Gros Ventre Road.
Expect 15-minute delays at the Colter Bay Entrance Road and parking areas.
Portions of the Rockefeller parkway will be reduced to one-lane traffic. Expect 15-minute delays between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Baxters Pinnacle climbing route, the approach trail and surrounding cliffs are closed to protect nesting peregrine falcons and their young.
Leigh Lake portage has a temporary closure for wildlife protection.
Willow Flats trails are closed until July 15 due to elk calving and associated predator species presence.
Bridger-Teton National Forest
Trail conditions: Last week was a beautiful week to be out on the public lands of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and summer is definitely in full swing. Crews have been out working hard on the area trail system, clearing trees and brush and helping maintain access. Last week the Skyline Trail closure lifted, and the trail is now open to the public. In June biologists found a newborn elk just a hundred feet from the trail, showing just how important the closure is. Always be aware of the regulations in the area you are visiting, and stop by or call the forest office if you need information. You can call Tim Farris, trails and wilderness supervisor at 739-5414 for trail information on the Jackson Ranger District.
Trail work: Last week the Friends of Pathways Youth Trail Crew was hard at work with the forest service in numerous locations around the district. The crew headed up the Skyline Trail and cleared trees as well as reconstructed several switchbacks on the climb up from Game Creek. The crew then cleared through avalanche debris and repaired a bridge on the Arrow Trail. They also cleared the Phillips Ridge Trail of trees and cut back brush. Finally they cut back miles of brush to improve sight distances on the Putt Putt Trail. Give the kids a high five if you run into them on the trail and thank them for all their work towards improving these places for everyone to enjoy.