Stellar biking at the base of the Tetons

A couple cruises down the Teton Park Road about a mile north of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park on Saturday on their way to Signal Mountain Lodge. (Jerry Painter photo)

On Saturday I rode my bike with hundreds of other people in Grand Teton National Park.

During April, the Teton Park Road is closed to vehicles and open to bikes and pedestrians. With sunny weather and just a touch of wind, the road was packed. It’s an annual spring affair and well worth the drive from Idaho Falls.

No matter how many times I do it, it always impresses.

My ride started at the visitors center in Moose, Wyo. I like parking here because spots are always available and the restrooms there are convenient for changing clothes. It also adds another 3 miles (one-way) to the ride that I enjoy. I was happy I did park here because on the ride back, vehicles were parked along the road for more than a quarter-mile near the Taggart and Bradley trailhead.

From the visitors center, I rode to the Signal Mountain Lodge and sat on a trailer in the parking area to eat a snack. Nothing is open this time of year, but the views of the frozen Jackson Lake and Mount Moran in the distance are really what you come for.

I noticed a few people avoided the crowds at the Taggart and Bradley trailhead by driving to Moran Junction, parking at the Signal Mountain Lodge parking area and riding south first, then returning back to the lodge. This might be a good strategy to work with the prevailing winds. They often blow from the north in the morning and from the south in the afternoon. Depending on when you leave, you often have a headwind the entire time.

After a snack at Signal Mountain Lodge, I headed back and took a detour up the narrow, winding road to the top of Signal Mountain. I thought the road would be clear of snow the entire way up, but no such luck. Too bad, this road is a fun little 3-mile climb with an awesome payoff of super views of the park in all directions. About a mile up the road, plows had stopped and the snow was close to a foot deep on the road. A half mile up the road was a downed tree — easy enough to walk around — that was a portend of more road blocks to come.

The distance from the visitors center parking lot to Signal Mountain is a little over 18 miles according to my odometer. I finished with about 43 miles total. I added extra mileage riding up the Signal Mountain road and also taking the scenic one-way road along Jenny Lake and past the Jenny Lake Lodge. This narrow road has one pullout along the way that offers a superb view point and snack spot.

The rolling terrain along this one-way road is just fun to ride at speed.

I passed perhaps a hundred bikers, walkers and a few skaters on the ride back. The traffic around the Taggart and Bradley parking lot was a hive of people. It was a joy to see so many families with small children — some in bike trailers and others on tiny kiddie bikes.

Because there’s still more than a foot of snow off the plowed road, I also saw a handful of skiers. A few skiers were towing ski gear on bike trailers to access certain slopes off the roadway.

The off-road bike path in the park is still under snow after about a half-mile past the park entrance booth. The bike path goes from Jackson, Wyo., all the way to Jenny Lake. The section along the National Elk Refuge is closed through April. As I drove past the elk refuge, a large herd could be seen in the distance.

Of course, you can add extra fun miles riding in the park with loops across Antelope Flats, to Kelly, Wyo., or even up to Slide Lake. Be advised that these extra loops share the road with motor vehicles. Having biked them, I strongly endorse them — the traffic is generally nothing to worry about.