JayP and I had two goals for Big Ride Sunday this weekend: A) Ride our snow bikes for a long time, and B) Ride all the way around Jackpine Loop. Accomplishing “B” would guarantee “A”. Just to make sure that we got our money’s worth; we started our ride on the Rail Trail in Tetonia, ID and headed north.
Temp at start: -3F
Total Distance: 38 miles
Total Time: 6:38:00
Elevation Gain: 2,200’
Jackpine Loop is within the Targhee National Forest
Jackpine Loop has been in the back of my mind as a snow bike route for a couple of years and after hearing a rumor last year that Freemont County actually groomed it a couple of times for snowmobile trail riders I really wanted to see it firsthand. Although it hasn’t been groomed yet this year, heavy snow machine use left us a defined track around the entire loop and it was 99.5% rideable. Jackpine Loop itself is 25 miles and the approach from Tetonia adds 6.5 miles each way. With good conditions, I think the 25-mile loop could be done in about four hours.
A big snow bike ride in cold temps forces you to nail your clothing choices or you will suffer. After sweating non-stop on the 2.5 hour climb, my core got cold on the descent which caused my hands to go numb and I never got them back for the rest of the ride. Once my hands go numb, I neglect eating as often and/or adjusting tire pressure because those simple tasks are no longer easy. I felt great for the first 5 hours of the ride but my speed faded at the end because I wasn’t eating as often as I should have been late in the ride. Does anyone else have a hard time chewing when your face is cold?
Old farm buildings are common north of Tetonia along the Rail Trail
A short section of trail north of Felt is groomed by horse-drawn sleigh
Jackpine Loop climbs and then descends in a corridor of evergreens
Slow but rideable trail
The backside of the loop provides a unique view of the west side of the Tetons