Mountain Biking in Pinedale, Wyoming
Page Summary: Discover Mountain Biking adventures for almost any skill level on remote trails with no crowds.
If you are looking for a mountain biking paradise, look no further. Pinedale, Wyoming offers tremendous variety, scenery, and biking adventures for almost any skill level. The wide open spaces and lack of population and traffic, make this a great place for the mountain biking enthusiast. The season typically lasts from late June through September. Many of the high country trails don't free up from snow until the end of July. Riding areas include remote mountain trails, gravel roads in the open sagebrush high desert, and back roads and two tracks. The Continental Divide Mountain Biking Trail also traverses Sublette County from Union Pass, through Cora, Pinedale, and Boulder to the southern end of the Wind River Mountains. Approximately 80% of the county is public land, so there's lots of territory to explore!
A lot of our trails and riding areas are remote and not frequently used, so come prepared with everything you might need because you'll likely need to rely on your own resources to get yourself out of trouble or back to civilization. Carry maps, water, food, tools and extra clothing. This is high mountain terrain where the weather can change very abruptly and it can snow in the mountains any day of the year. Also, many trails are not well marked, so knowledge of compass & map reading and direction finding are skills you'll likely need.
Summer daytime temperatures can be in the 70s-90s while night time temperatures can drop into the 40s and 50s. Bring a warm sleeping bag, water filtration equipment, sunscreen, hat, bug repellant and clothes to layer. A cell phone is also an essential, but reception is spotty in the mountains, so don't rely on it to bring help if you need it. The summer weather pattern is typically clear and sunny in the mornings then building to afternoon clouds and thunderstorms with possible hail and lightning. Evenings then moderate with gorgeous sunsets. Mornings are the best riding times. Be sure to bring lots of water to keep your fluids up. Wyoming's high altitude, 7,000-9,000 feet for most trails, makes the sun more intense. Be sure to use sunscreen and a shirt with sleeves you can roll up and down as needed.
- No biking allowed in the wilderness areas. The Bridger Wilderness and Gros Ventre Wilderness areas are closed to mechanized vehicles. Be sure to have a map and know where you are riding to not stray on trails that lead into the designated wilderness areas.
- Respect private property. Although most of the county is 80% public land, your trail may venture onto private land. Know where you are riding and get permission before crossing private land.
- Leave any gates you encounter the way you found them. If you go through a closed gate, close it again once you're through. If the gate was open when you found it, leave it that way.
- Always treat drinking and cooking water from natural sources before consuming it. The water may look pure, but all natural waters contain organisms such as Giardia that can make you horribly sick and ruin your trip.
- Sublette County is bear country. Grizzly bears and black bears are found in the Wind River Mountains, the Gros Ventre Range and the Wyoming Range. Be sure to keep a clean camp and follow all the precautions for food storage when you camp. Be alert for bears when riding back country trails. Carry top strength pepper spray.
- Services are few and far between for mountain bikers. Pinedale offers full services and some bike supplies including tubes, patch kits, and bike pumps. The other towns offer minimal specialized equipment for mountain biking needs. Plan ahead and bring extras of what you need, if possible.
In Sublette County, the CDMBT goes from the top of Union Pass, through the upper Green River Valley past Cora and into Pinedale. Use Pinedale to replenish supplies and get maps and directions, it gets much more remote on the next stretch! From Pinedale, riders will get their navigation skills tested as they skirt the Mesa and New Fork River to Boulder. The Boulder Store is the last chance for minimal supplies. From there to South Pass, the going is remote, but scenic with breathtaking views of the length of the Wind River Mountain range. The trail is not marked and it's not hard to lose your way, so come prepared with maps, directions and basic direction-finding techniques. Even many of the locals don't know the unofficial CDMBT goes through the area, so asking for directions for the trail may not help!
There are many back roads to ride in this area that start in open sagebrush valleys and lead into scenic forested country and beyond. Popular destinations include the Rim roads, the Hoback river road, Water Dog Lakes, Twin Creek Valley, and the side roads off Hwy 191 leading to the edge of the Gros Ventre Wilderness area.
The Wyoming Range is a dream come true if you want scenic riding trails and a chance to have the country all to yourself. Popular riding areas and trails include Horse Creek, the Greys River Valley, Middle Piney, Bare Pass, North and South Cottonwood Creeks, and the South Fork of North Horse Creek. Rides here can be short day rides or longer day rides. Overnight trips are something to cherish. Be sure your bike is in top operating condition and the brakes are working well for some of these trails are steep and challenging. Of course, wear a helmet! Many of the trails are not well marked, so don't be surprised if the trail you're on suddenly disappears or dwindles down to nothing without marker signs offering help on where it might be.
Upper Green River:
There are many miles of riding in the Upper Green River Valley area on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Green River transects the valley bottom and two track roads through the open sagebrush valley are practically unlimited. Bring your fishing pole and license if you want to drop a line into the scenic Green River for hungry trout lunkers that inhabit this Blue Ribbon trout stream. This is the headwaters of the Colorado River, and where buffalo, mountain men and Native American Indians roamed not so long ago. Popular riding areas include the valley bottom two-tracks, Boulder Basin, Gypsum Creek, Roaring Forks, Tosi and Kinky Creeks, Teepee Creek and the Union Pass area. Elk Ridge offers a spectacular views of all the surrounding mountain ranges: the Wind River, Absarokas, Wyoming Range, Gros Ventres, and even the tops of the Tetons. There are many old dirt logging roads and two tracks to explore! This is also a popular 4-wheeling area, so don't be surprised to see ATVs sharing the back roads with you at times. Be aware that the entire Upper Green River Valley and surrounding mountains are grizzly bear habitat areas, and it is possible you may encounter a grizzly bear on any back trail in any of these areas, so be prepared.
There are many good riding areas around Pinedale along two track and dirt roads offering a variety of skill challenges and scenery opportunities. From Skyline Drive, mountain bikers can access the Sweeney Creek area and Grouse Mountain trail. These are challenging trails, but offer great forest rides and views of Half Moon Lake. Half Moon mountain, a landmark visible from Pinedale, is accessed from the Pole Creek Road. This is a challenging ride that will put your legs to the test on a bumpy, windy, steep dirt road, but the view from the top is well worth it.
South of Pinedale, between the Wind River Range and the Wyoming Range, is the dry, high desert plateau called "The Mesa". These rolling, open sagebrush plains are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). While the terrain looks desolate and remote, underground is the source of one of the biggest oil and gas fields in the United States. Consequently, oil and gas drill rigs are dotted throughout the landscape and large trucks roll on criss-crossing gravel roads as they go about the business of maintaining the drill rigs. The Mesa has some 900,000 acres of draws, ridges, badlands, and rolling hills to explore. At one time in the distant past, when the climate was much more temperate, this landscape was covered with trees and a shallow broad lake. Petrified wood and leaf fossils can still be found in numerous locations. Fish fossils also abound in certain places, but are illegal to collect (anything with a vertebra cannot be collected). These rides have 360 degree views of five mountain ranges: the Wind River Range skyline, the Wyoming Range, the Gros Ventres, the Big Piney plateau and the Tetons. At one time the Mesa mountain biking trail was planned through here by the BLM, but as is often the case, manpower and funding issues were not overcome and the trail was never completed or marked. Water is scarce here, so bring plenty. Also, despite being a desert climate, the mosquitos are abundant and can be voracious the moment you stop moving. Be sure to apply sunscreen on exposed skin and wear a hat. It's easy to get lost up here with all the new roads, so bring a map and your compass. The legal location is posted on all the drill rigs if you need a reference point of where you are.
The Irish Canyon area offers a variety of good mountain biking rides. There are many miles of roads and trails in this area going through open sagebrush hills and forest. Wildlife is commonly seen, and you'll also share some areas with cattle that range in these areas. This is a good area for family rides.
Big Sandy Area:
Big Sandy Opening offers a multitude of long and short rides, some on level terrain and others offering steep climb challenges for those wanting to exercise their legs. The scenery is spectacular with lofty mountain peaks, forest, open sagebrush rolling hills, and plenty of wildlife. This is remote country, so be self-sufficient. Big Sandy Lodge at the Big Sandy Trailhead offers overnight accommodations if you need a shower and place to stay with a bed.
- SingleTracks.com – SingleTracks.com lists several good mountain bike rides in the Pinedale, WY region.
- Mountain Biking Jackson Hole (Regional Mountain Biking Series) by Amber Travsky, a Falcon Guide
ISBN: 1-56044-749-4 ($10.95)
Sublette County Visitor Center
P.O. Box 176
Pinedale, WY 82941
Bridger-Teton National Forest
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001
Pinedale Ranger District
29 E Fremont Lake Road, PO Box 220, Pinedale, WY, 82941
Big Piney Ranger District
PO Box 218, Big Piney, WY, 83113
307-276-3375 or 276-5800/5200