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  1. #1
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    Lionhead Little Loop

    My apologies for this tardy post. It's been over a week and I should have posted this immediately. Many thanks to the Gallatin National Forest and the Targhee National Forest for this trail vision. This new segment of the CDT is a super trail, and a good addition to the overall CDT trail concept! It's all rideable and not endangered for access. It can be combined with a Mile Creek start to make a pass-to-pass ride. Since Mile Creek to Sheep Creek is called the "Big Loop" we dubbed this loop the "Lionhead Little Loop".

    Lionhead Little Loop started at the Targhee Creek Trailhead in Idaho, between Island Park, ID and West Yellowstone, MT. We rode up the power line road to get to Targhee Pass, then turned north onto the older ATV CDT route. Follow this route, or road, about 1-1/2 miles until coming across the new CDT intersection signs. From there we started climbing on new singletrack. Get up there this fall because the new trail sure needs tire tracks on it to harden it up!

    The day we rode was near the end of a short wet front, hence the clouds we encountered. This just served to hold us back from the views a bit. When the clouds parted, WOW!
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  2. #2
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    As we neared the crest of the mountain, little windows opened through the clouds, and we got glimpses of the view. The creek below me, way below me, is still covered in ice from a thawing avalanche. We've had a hot dry summer, yet by September 1 it hadn't quite melted yet!

    Then the clouds moved out. Views to the west looked down and across the forks of Targhee Creek, views to the east gave us Hebgen Lake and West Yellowstone. A better day and you could see the Tetons. Looking back shows how the trail wraps along the spine of Lionhead Mountain.
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  3. #3
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    The trail designers gave everyone a big treat as the trail skirts a band of cliffs at the north end of Lionhead. Birds darted about below us, making a chorus of chirps and tweets. Along the trail, the skeletons of recently dead Whitebark Pines still stand at attention. In a few years we'll have to haul chainsaws up here for clearing duty. At the end of the mountain, just as we contemplated diving off down a new series of switchbacks, the velvety meadows of upper Watkins Creek spread out.

    See what I mean about thanking the Gallatin and Targhee Forest personnel?
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  4. #4
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    We crossed back into Idaho, and into the Targhee Creek drainage. First section is a cruise, across some small creeks and passing by a couple nice lakes, although one was actually dry, the first time I had seen it that way. Then we prepped for Targhee Creek trail. This meant getting bear spray ready. Targhee Creek has a reputation for being a tough trail, at least the upper half. It also has a high and reliable concentration of grizzly bears. So don't let the trail get you, because if you're layin there hurt, you have just entered the food chain. As it turned out, crashes were minimal.
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  5. #5
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    Thanks for sharing! Looks like a great ride. Lots of pictures from the southern Madison this summer. I have got to get down there and explore, but I'm running out of summer...
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  6. #6
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    Our trip down Targhee Creek wasn't without incident though. While being wary of hazards and scouting for bear, we were trapped by a silent menace. Gumbo. With the previous night's rain, midway down Targhee was a zone of super sticky, that ground us to a halt with immediate pounds of muck in our tires. I shook my bike hard so I could keep pedaling downhill, and it wasn't too far before we crossed a creek. Most of us washed, but I just did a light rinse. At the bottom all of our bikes looked about the same. The next day I weighed mine. 10 pounds of mud! It still shifted!

    So in the gumbo zone we found a lot of tracks in the trail, big and medium wolf tracks! Then we say what I think was the young wolf, and had a stare-down with it for a minute at about 75 yards. When we took off it just vanished in the thick woods. A few minutes later we were serenaded with two long howls.

    Storm clouds built up real fast, with frequent lightning and thunder overhead. Finally we pulled on raingear and hauled out real fast over the last two miles. One item of advice. Don't go through Targhee Creek Trail when it's wet!

    Final stats. Dunno. I think it was about almost 20 miles and under 4,000 ft of climbing. fairly low effort for a spectacular trail.
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    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Thanks for sharing! Looks like a great ride. Lots of pictures from the southern Madison this summer. I have got to get down there and explore, but I'm running out of summer...
    The weather looks good for this weekend. Grab a buddy and get going!
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  8. #8
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    Thanks Greg -- looks like I'll have to get down there to check out the new CDT re-route.

    I've HAB up Targhee Creek->Dry Fork, and (the last mile or two of) Targhee Creek is a gnarly heading up or down...

    I've been trying to explore the trails north of Hebgen (Red Canyon a few weeks back and hope to check out Kirkwood by way of Axolotl Lake this weekend), but there are really so many different and amazing Henry options.

    You could literally spend 2 weeks in Henry/Hebgen area and not ride the same thing twice:

    Henry's:
    Sheep (out-n-back)
    Mile (out-n-back)
    Coffin Lakes (out-n-back)
    CDT South of 20 (does anyone ever ride this?)

    Longer quasi-shuttleable:
    Targhee Pass->Mile, Sheep or Dry Fork Targhee Creek
    Denny Creek->Mile, Sheep or Dry Fork Targhee Creek

    Whole enchilada:
    Mile->Sheep (or Sheep->Mile)

    Hebgen area:
    Red Canyon (out-n-back)
    Kirkwood (haven't ridden yet, but out-n-back or loop off of Beaver Creek)
    Cabin Creek (haven't ridden yet, but out-n-back or loop off of Beaver Creek)
    Cub Creek (haven't ridden yet, but out-n-back or loop off of Beaver Creek to Kirkwood/Red Canyon)

    Cliff & Wade:
    I ran into a guy at the TH when I was riding Sheep->Watkins (out via Coffin) who was riding Hidden Lake up at C&W. He said you had to park at the resort and it was uphill on the way out, but had a nice rope swing. I haven't done anything up there outside the downhill from Hilltop Campground, but there's more options there and (of course) more off of the Gravelly Range Road.

    We're so lucky to have these trails open to biking (for now) -- and as Greg already noted these trails need to see more tires!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406 View Post
    The weather looks good for this weekend. Grab a buddy and get going!
    Parents are in town visiting, unfortunately. A couple quick local rides will be all I can manage.

    I'm very pleased to read that the USFS was such a good partner here. I went down to Victor/Driggs for the Wydaho festival this summer, and on one ride we ran into a ranger at the trailhead, and when he started talking about trail work and conditions using words like "flow" and "gnar" I raised my eyebrows a bit. Not what I've been conditioned to expect from someone in a USFS uniform. I know it wasn't painless, but the way the B-T is working with the MTB community down there is really impressive.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by evasive View Post
    Parents are in town visiting, unfortunately. A couple quick local rides will be all I can manage.

    I'm very pleased to read that the USFS was such a good partner here. I went down to Victor/Driggs for the Wydaho festival this summer, and on one ride we ran into a ranger at the trailhead, and when he started talking about trail work and conditions using words like "flow" and "gnar" I raised my eyebrows a bit. Not what I've been conditioned to expect from someone in a USFS uniform. I know it wasn't painless, but the way the B-T is working with the MTB community down there is really impressive.
    Glad you had such a good time. Just one correction- on this side of the Tetons we are working closely with the Caribou-Targhee NF, not the BT/. The BT has the benefit of NOT having a travel plan until very recently, so could do almost whatever they thought was right, which was a LOT, thanks to Linda Merigliano.

    Sounds like you ran into our CT trails guy, Scott Bossell. He is a mtn biker and dirt biker, does indeed know about flow, designs some great reroutes/ new trail. The CT has been very motor-oriented, historically, but we are working hard to showcase the trails, the benefits of human-powered recreation, and expand our trail system within the travel plan.

    but back to the new loop- hopefully we can come up and ride it late Sept when I get back from the biannual avalanche conference. Thanks for the info and especially the map!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by homemadesalsa View Post
    Glad you had such a good time. Just one correction- on this side of the Tetons we are working closely with the Caribou-Targhee NF, not the BT/. The BT has the benefit of NOT having a travel plan until very recently, so could do almost whatever they thought was right, which was a LOT, thanks to Linda Merigliano.
    Actually, the encounter I mentioned was at the Phillips trailhead. The forest had people doing user surveys both there and the Trail Creek trailhead on that Saturday. We rode Horseshoe Canyon with W on Friday, so we got some of the picture on that side, too.
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  12. #12
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    greg, did you get the mileage from approx targhee pass (new cdt trailhead) to the junction in Watkins? and mileage for the powerline trail? how steep is the powerline, and would it be a good downhill?

  13. #13
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    I did not record those mileages. The Power Line segment is short and it would not be a good downhill. It really needs at least a partial singletrack bypass.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  14. #14
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    Hey Greg-

    We are thinking of heading up from Teton Valley this coming weekend to ride the new CDT to Targhee Creek "little loop." Your map has disappeared from the thread- any way you could send it to me in the email : lwolfe at silverstar dot com?

    Or better yet, come down and ride with us. Looks like we will probably camp in lower Targhee Creek on Fri and Sat nights.

    thanks
    Lynne

  15. #15
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    Different from what? I don't get any images in my view of the thread, if that is what you mean, just a little pencil symbol in a box.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by homemadesalsa View Post
    Hey Greg-

    We are thinking of heading up from Teton Valley this coming weekend to ride the new CDT to Targhee Creek "little loop." Your map has disappeared from the thread- any way you could send it to me in the email : lwolfe at silverstar dot com?

    Or better yet, come down and ride with us. Looks like we will probably camp in lower Targhee Creek on Fri and Sat nights.

    thanks
    Lynne
    Hey Lynne,

    Greg's been having 'email' issues, so not sure if he'll see your blurb.

    The BZN/Big Sky/West Yellowstone Beartooth Map (not the MTB one, just the topo) has the new CDT reroute on it and you should be able to pick one up @ Free Heel & Wheel in West Yellowstone.

    Anyways, there's only 2 real turns to speak of.

    You pick up the CDT access on the N Side of Targhee Pass, it's basically a steep logging road for the first not quite 1/2 mile, then a gate, then the trail climbs for a bit before you see the new CDT reroute (to the left).

    That trail climbs a cool granite spine for a ways eventually popping up and over and down the backside of the ridge into the "normal" CDT route we did when riding Dry Fork of Targhee Creek a few years back.

    The first stretch of trail after your turn back down to your campsite was STEEP and horse chewed the last (and only time) I rode it uphill.

    I didn't get to ride it (in reverse from Mile->Targhee Pass) like I'd hoped a few weeks back, so it's still on my bucket list for fall, but not sure about this weekend for myself.

    Jealous...

    PS. the FH&W gals turned me onto the new CDT on the S. Side of the pass.

    It's literally the easiest graded ridgeline trail I've ridden anywhere. It's something like 19 miles point to point to Rheas pass, but if you guys wanted to spin your legs you could do a shorter out and back before setting up camp. It reminds me of the Homestake CDT ride outside Butte in terms of rolling topography and gentle gradients... very worthwhile if you're already in the area and want to try something new, and (of course) is on the BZN/BS/WYellowstone map referenced above.

  17. #17
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    Thanks Alfy for all the excellent beta. I think we can find it just fine based on your beta on top of Greg's. Riding up there on Saturday with a posse if you can get away.

    Will go poke our noses into the southern trail too.

  18. #18
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    FYI - look into the closures related to the Two Top and Mosquito Fires. My friend in West told me that area (Reas Pass) is closed this weekend.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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    Thanks for the heads up on the fire, Evasive. Just called the FS in West Yellowstone and Targhee Creek/ Lionhead/ all points north are fine. Fire is south of Targhee Pass, and 60% contained, smoke is not bad, she said.

  20. #20
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    Lionhead Little Loop

    It looks like a little fire, but with a wide closure area. I keep wanting to ride down there some weekend. My friend in West has the Wapiti Cabin south of Big Sky this weekend, which is another area I'd like to explore. But I'm riding Rierdon Gulch on the Front tomorrow, so can't. Hardships.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  21. #21
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    Just back from riding the Little loop, and wow, what a great reroute. Must be 4-5 miles on the divide itself, almost all rideable, great views. Targhee Creek wasn't too bad, although there are a number of down trees. Bottom 3 miles is a hoot. No gumbo, no bears.

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