This is the first installment of Trail Talk for the 2019 summer season. 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.
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 8,500 feet.
Ticks: Ticks are out. Check your body after hiking.
Boating and fishing seasons: 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.
The general fishing season is open. Some streams are closed until mid-July.
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. The Valley Trail and lakeshore trails are mostly melted out, however patches of snow and sloppy conditions remain.
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 prior to launch at an AIS station. 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.
All vessels, including stand-up paddle boards, must carry a personal flotation device for each person on board.
Bear safety: Federal law requires visitors to remain 100 yards away from bears and wolves. When hiking in bear country stay alert, watch for fresh tracks or scat, make noise in areas with limited visibility, carry bear spray and know how to use it and hike in groups of three people or more. If you encounter a bear do not run; back away slowly.
The park requires all food, garbage, toiletries, pet food, coolers and food containers (empty or full), and cookware (clean or dirty) be stored in a hard-sided vehicle with the windows rolled up or in a bear-resistant food locker when not in immediate use or attended to, day or night. Never leave your backpack unattended. Never allow a bear to get human food. If approached by a bear while eating, gather your food and retreat to a safe distance.
Jenny Lake area
The South Jenny Lake parking area will have temporary parking restrictions through most of June, and 15-minute delays should be expected on the road leading to the parking area. No overnight parking will be permitted. Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point are open. The lower hiking trail along the southwestern shore is closed. Those wishing to make a loop hike around the lake or hike to the west shore can do so via the upper southwest shoreline trail (horse trail).
Area and road closures
Pavement work is being done on Highway 89/191 from the south boundary to Airport Junction. Expect 15-minute delays. Work is also being done along the Colter Bay entrance road with minimum delays.
Gros Ventre roundabout center island repair and curbing work is being conducted through mid-June. Minor delays should be expected.
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 and road conditions: The summer season is finally kicking off on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Due to a great winter there is lingering snow, so many higher trails are still melting out. Some of these trails are not passable and others are muddy and should not be used due to the damage it causes to the trail. Rivers and creeks are also beginning to surge and can be dangerous to cross, so make good decisions and always make sure someone knows where you are headed. Roads around the district are spotty. Some are still muddy and dangerous. It is advised that you have four-wheel drive and carry chains all summer long for forest roads.
Trail access: The Jackson Trail Crew has cleared the majority of the Greater Snow King trails as well as the Munger Mountain trails. The Skyline Trail is closed from May 1 to July 1 for elk calving. On Teton Pass snow is still lingering in many parts of the forest, but Lower History, Crater, Big Rocks, and Blacks have been cleared. The trail crew has also cleared the Swift Creek, Shoal Falls, and Highline trails in the Gros Ventre Wilderness for a few miles before they hit snow. They have also cleared the Middle and Anne’s Ridge trails in the Willow Creek area and the North Fork of Fall Creek Trail in the Snake River Range. The Jackson District and Friends of Pathways held a National Trails Day event at Cache Creek Trailhead on June 1 to build a new reroute and clear brush from several area trails.
Closures: Tomorrow, from approximately 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a helicopter will be slinging bags of rock to three locations along the Josies Ridge Trail above the Sink or Swim Junction. Be aware of signage and stay clear of the area during the project.