Mountain Biking in Jackson Hole: Putt Putt & Sink or Swim Trails
For the outdoor enthusiast, Jackson Hole is a paradise. With so many activities to choose from it is often hard to decide what to do. When paved and dirt roads can no longer contain you, discover the joy of riding on glorious single track in Jackson. There are plenty of places to take your mountain bike: from the dirt roads of the Elk Refuge to the downhill trails in Teton Pass, to the winding cross country trails of the Cache Creek area.
Today we’ll talk about two great places to mountain bike, both within the town of Jackson and close to Mountain Modern Motel. These cross country mountain biking trails offer small adrenaline rushes while letting you forgo major pads and full face helmets. However, while a lot of fun to ride on, these trails can can catch you by surprise, so bike with caution your first time out.
“The Cache Creek Trailhead is my favorite trail system in the Jackson Hole Valley, with miles of single track accessible from almost anywhere in the Town of Jackson. There is also plenty of parking at the trailhead for a park and ride option. Putt Putt trail is my go-to for a smooth, winding singletrack through meadows and forest along Cache Creek. High altitude lungs are helpful, and you can ride Putt Putt as its own loop if you want. I suggest the counter clockwise route. To make the ride a little longer, cross the road at the top of Putt Putt and join the Hagen trail which crosses Cache Creek and heads downhill. Keep left at each fork and eventually you’ll start climbing again and end up at the top of Snow King Mountain’s Rafferty Chairlift. From there connect to the Sink or Swim trail and enjoy an excellent, smooth and curvy descent through the trees. Ride as far as you like, and bail out any time with plenty of forks in the trail taking you back into the Town of Jackson.” – Spencer Long, Mountain Modern Motel
Contrary to the mellow sounding name, there is no putting to be had on this trail. This trail provides so many options – you can make a short loop or extend it to be a longer ride if you’d like. This trail has a lot of fun up and downs and it also provides great views as you bike through fields of wildflowers and aspen groves. Putt Putt can be accessed in two ways: from the Cache Creek Trail Head and from the Nelson Drive Trail Head. The easiest way is to park at the Cache Creek Trail Head and then hop on your bike and bike up the dirt road next to Cache Creek. If you like to bike on single track you may use the Cache Creek Sidewalk Trail. To find the Sidewalk, when you are in the parking lot with your back facing the town of Jackson look to the left of the gate at the head of the Cache Creek dirt road. The Jackson Friends of Pathways do a great job labeling all of the different trails so it is rather difficult to get lost. Also, most of the trails loop back to the central area (Cache Creek parking lot).
Once you are biking away from the parking lot there will be many places to jump onto the Putt Putt trail. Just look for signs on the left hand side of the trail. Cache Creek Sidewalk ends eventually and joins up with the dirt road. About a mile and a half up the road you will reach a circle where there is a sign with mileage to local destinations. We suggest that you take the left to Putt Putt once you reach this point, though there is one more place to jump onto the trail further up a ways. This is the most popular route and it provides you with a nice long ride. Regardless of what trail you take to get to Putt Putt, take a left onto the trail and start heading in the direction of the parking lot. The Putt Putt trail does have its fair share of downhill, but it has some strenuous uphill pedaling as well. So do not expect all downhill once you get to the trail. For a map of the mountain biking trails in the Cache Creek Area (including the Putt Putt Trail and how to get to the Cache Creek Trail Head) click here. Always be aware that other people may be using the trails and be courteous to other bikers, runners, horseback riders or hikers.
Sink or Swim
For those who prefer to pedal uphill first and then have a mellow downhill ride afterward, this trail is for you. Sink or Swim can be accessed a few different ways, but the most popular is through the Cache Creek Trail Head. This trail is not a loop, so we’d suggest that you either drop a car on one side of town and bring the other to the trail head or just park your car in the Snow King Resort parking lot (in the middle) and bike the road to the Cache Creek Trail Head and when you are done bike back to your car.
This trail does have some strenuous uphill pedaling, but once you reach the crest of the trail it is a downhill cruise. Also, the trail runs along the side of Snow King Mountain so if you do not like having a steep drop off to one side of you, this is not the trail for you.
To reach the Sink or Swim Trail, just before you reach the main parking area for the Cache Creek Trail Head there is a trail that goes off into the woods on the right. It is labeled as the Hagen Trail. Follow this trail to the split and take a right onto Hagen Highway. Follow this trail until you reach Snow King Mountain’s trail system. You will start to follow the dirt roads on Snow King, following signs for Hagen (do not go onto Ferrin’s Trail). This is when the downhill starts. Follow the dirt road (merging with another dirt road) down until you see the sign for Sink or Swim on the left hand side. Follow the trail as it meanders through meadows of the ski slope and through the trees. There are 3 ways you may exit the trail at the end, and there is no “wrong” way – simply chose based on how far you want to bike back to your car. All of the exit trails will spit you out onto Snow King Avenue or the bike path. Go right on the path to get back to your car. Once again, you can find the trail on this Friends of Pathways map.
So now you know where two very fun cross country trails are to test your skills on while you are in Jackson. If you are interested in renting bicycles when you are in town, Fitzgerald’s and Hoback Sports both have bikes to rent (road and mountain). We hope that you get a chance to ride one of the two trails and discover why our definition of mountain biking is redefined in Jackson, Wyoming.