Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill

    I'd planned to ride Sheep Creek one day and CDT->Mile Creek the next, but a hungry bear and 14 larkspur-poisoned dead cows at the Mile Creek Trailhead caused me to change my camping and riding plans.

    Sheep Creek was as good as it gets (and even better than you remember...) but the surprise was Dry Fork which is the last turn off the CDT before Mile Creek and is a VERY WORTHY (3000 ft!!) descent.

    I rope up from Targhee Creek but would STRONGLY suggest the longer and more bikable Targhee Pass to CDT route as the upper 2.5 miles were full of horse-eroded stepups and no fun/riding at all. The lower stretches of Targhee Creek would make for perfect indoctrination for the younger set (read: my 4 yo) as it's 3(?) miles of barely climbing singletrack but the upper portion was rough...

    The Dry Fork downhill is slightly more technical than Sheep (60% buff singletrack, 25% chunky downhill, 15% faint/missingtrack -- just follow the cairns up high and look uphill and to the right if you lose the trail...)

    The horse outfitters keep the trail open (lots of signs of chainsaw trail maintenance) but just like Sheep it needs more tire tracks too!

    It seems like the kind of epic trail that mtn bike advocacy groups should dedicate some trail maintenance to and VERY WORTHY of a 2nd day if you're in the area.

  2. #2
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    Thanks for the Mile Creek update, I'd been wanting to get up and do that, but maybe we'll shoot for Sheep Creek instead. Did you do Sheep Creek as an out and back? How far in did you go?

    As for the Targhee Creek ride, I'll have to look at the maps some to figure out the Targhee Pass approach you're talking about. Any more details would be appreciated.

  3. #3
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    Mile Creek is probably cleaned up (of cow carcasses) by now as they were backhoe-ing the dead cows into a pile and covering them up as I left camp on Thursday AM.

    I usually do Sheep Creek as an out and back to the Lake though ran into some (mentally deranged) bikers who were riding UP Mile Creek, connecting to the CDT, then down Watkins Creek, up the West Fork of Coffin Creek and up/over back down to Sheep...

    They said it was a 10 mile downhill, but looks like a long day in the saddle for mortals.

    You can pick up the CDT from the top of the Targhee Pass (on old double-track logging roads.) It's been a few years but I don't recall the climb being nearly as bad as the last sections of Targhee Creek climb.

    It's pretty straight forward on the BZN/Big Sky Beartooth Map and the intersections are well marked.

  4. #4
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    The best way to access the upper targhee creek basin is actually to drive to the end of the Denny Creek Road and begin the ride there at the trailhead. This eliminates alot of push a bike on the CDT off targhee pass and past the old ski area. Curious 3 of us did the traghee creek dry fork w targhee creek loop sunday (8/8). Area is getting popular. A few of us Idaho rides have been doing this loop since the mid 1980s.

  5. #5
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    Up Mile Creek, climb Targhee peak, down Watkins, up West Fork Coffin, down Sheep, 32.3 miles. Park on the highway at the bottom of Sheep Creek Rd. to do the whole loop without shuttle. Bicycling.com has a pretty good route description, but bring a map because one of their trail junction descriptions is wrong.
    Up Porcupine/Onion Basin, down Big Creek, up Lewis Creek, along the divide, down Hyalite all the way to 19th st., 52 miles (13 on roads in Hyalite Canyon), shuttle.
    Up 1st Yellow Mule, down Buck Creek or Inspiration Ridge to backside Cinnamon Mt., down Cinnamon to the Lodge for Margs, @25 miles, continue up Buffalo Horn (320 Ranch) to Porcupine for 17 more.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by afraid
    Up Mile Creek, climb Targhee peak, down Watkins, up West Fork Coffin, down Sheep, 32.3 miles. Park on the highway at the bottom of Sheep Creek Rd. to do the whole loop without shuttle. Bicycling.com has a pretty good route description, but bring a map because one of their trail junction descriptions is wrong.
    Up Porcupine/Onion Basin, down Big Creek, up Lewis Creek, along the divide, down Hyalite all the way to 19th st., 52 miles (13 on roads in Hyalite Canyon), shuttle.
    Up 1st Yellow Mule, down Buck Creek or Inspiration Ridge to backside Cinnamon Mt., down Cinnamon to the Lodge for Margs, @25 miles, continue up Buffalo Horn (320 Ranch) to Porcupine for 17 more.
    The first ride described is real, people have been enjoying it all summer since the snowmelt.
    The second is silly. It's also closed for the time being.
    The third is perfect for hammerhead endurance racers, and could be pulled off without a car from your vacation condo.
    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 Montana Rider

    The Dry Fork downhill is slightly more technical than Sheep (60% buff singletrack, 25% chunky downhill, 15% faint/missingtrack -- just follow the cairns up high and look uphill and to the right if you lose the trail...)

    The horse outfitters keep the trail open (lots of signs of chainsaw trail maintenance) but just like Sheep it needs more tire tracks too!

    It seems like the kind of epic trail that mtn bike advocacy groups should dedicate some trail maintenance to and VERY WORTHY of a 2nd day if you're in the area.
    The maintanance you describe was done about a month ago as a joint project between the Targhee NF/Gallatin Chapter Backcountry Horsemen/Montana Mountain Bike Alliance.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  8. #8
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    Dead Cows.

    The new Region One managment strategy.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  9. #9
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    the local home owners I spoke to seemed a bit peeved that the cows were dead for almost a week before FS tacked up the sign at the trailhead (on Thursday) and brought in the backhoe.

    I read in Saturdays comical that the trailhead was closed on Friday, but no one on the trail seemed to know about it...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Montana Rider
    the local home owners I spoke to seemed a bit peeved that the cows were dead for almost a week before FS tacked up the sign at the trailhead (on Thursday) and brought in the backhoe.

    I read in Saturdays comical that the trailhead was closed on Friday, but no one on the trail seemed to know about it...
    Good beta.

    Not everyone gets the paper. If you saw who I think you saw, at least one of the guys has no paper, computer, TV, nothing. A 50 year old kid. Owns a 4K bike though.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  11. #11
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    From the week before

    Mile Creek, Sheep Creek/Lake, Coffin Lake, Targhee Forks, and the CDT. It's all really good, backcountry, and the most endangered trails presently in Montana. The Idaho parts are not presently endangered. Here is some photos from the week before.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill-fdscn4969.jpg  

    Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill-fdscn4992.jpg  

    Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill-fdscn5013.jpg  

    Dry Fork W Targhee Creek @ Lionhead -- New Top 5 (to me) singletrack downhill-fdscn5040.jpg  

    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  12. #12
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    Planning to come up to the CDT for a ride this coming Wednesday (Sept 1). Love to meet up with some adventurous Montana folks to ride together. Open to suggestions on route choices.

  13. #13
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    fyi, it's been raining for 3 days... should be clearing up by Wednesday, but I suspect trails will still be muddy.

    re: trails, you really can't go wrong in Lionhead

    Sheep Creek (out and back = sweet singletrack)
    Denny Creek to Mile Creek (CDT long day)
    Coffin Lake (short out and back double-trackish)

  14. #14
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    Latest word on the cows is they have been dynamited by the Forest Service. This is standard practice. Be bear aware.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  15. #15
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    So, how does a non local access these trails. I'm going up to Is. Park for the weekend and I would like to try some of these trails.

  16. #16
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    buy this map (available in most bike shops including I would assume Freeheel and Wheel in West Yellowstone:

    http://beartoothpublishing.com/bozeman.php

    most of the trails down there are pretty well marked departing from trailheads and such:

    Sheep Creek (out and back = sweet singletrack)
    Denny Creek to Mile Creek (CDT long day)
    Coffin Lake (shorter out and back double-trackish)

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by GregB406
    Latest word on the cows is they have been dynamited by the Forest Service. This is standard practice. Be bear aware.
    Just got a message from the forest service. They did explosions on all but two cows and then left them for scavange purposes. So, he said the trail is closed. Is it still rideable, or would it be a good idea to avoid?

    There are not too many bears in UT where I ride.

  18. #18
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    My sister is really freaked out obout this area because of Grizzlies. Are these trails safe if you are biking alone? She said it is prime time for them. Any advice.

  19. #19
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    I would avoid Mile Creek, but the rest are just normal bear habitat. Just bring bear spray and yell "hey bear". It will rain starting tomorrow afternoon for the rest of the weekend. Please report on your clay mud experiences.

  20. #20
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    Big Sky to Hebgen

    Up 1st Yellow Mule, Inspiration Trail 8, Lizard Lakes 63 (this is different on the ground than on the maps), Albino Lake Trail 33, Meadow Creek 233, up Little Wapiti Trail, Cabin Creek Trail 206, Red Canyon Trail 205, Hebgen Lake! @50 miles. Red Canyon is horsed out, bummer.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by afraid
    I would avoid Mile Creek, but the rest are just normal bear habitat. Just bring bear spray and yell "hey bear". It will rain starting tomorrow afternoon for the rest of the weekend. Please report on your clay mud experiences.
    Not much of rain until Sunday. Because of a really bad cold and trying to please the wife. I had to stay and ride in Island Park. I got the map at W. Yellowstone bike shop. That is a fabulous map. I wish they had one for Utah. Man the ATV have torn up Island Park since I have been up here last. I need to head up here again. I talked to a few riders that were finishing up a ride at Gatlin Springs. They said that there was some newly finished single track there, but I did not have any Bear Spray. It pays to buy this outside of W. Yellowstone.

  22. #22
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    FYI. Talking to a buddy at work and he said all his friends in Alaska use Wasp spray instead of Bear Spray. Said it shoots farther and it cost a whole lot less.

  23. #23
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    Any beta on the road to the Denny Cr. Trailhead, FSR 1735? 2wd accessible?

    Thanks

  24. #24
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    Denny Creek Trailhead FS Road 1735

    The forest road 1735 to the denny creek trailhead does not require 4wd (assuming dry conditions. The first 2 miles are fairly good gravel service-the last 2-3 miles are steep in places but just slow and bumpy. My suburu outback has no problems on the road. Might be a different story after heavy rain.

  25. #25
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    Just rode Sheep Creek to the lake and back. Beautiful. A great ride. We'll be back to do that one again.

    And did Denny Ck to the Dry Fork of Targhee Creek last Wednesday with Montana Rider. Great as well. Thanks to MMBA et al for the obvious new trail- excellent- and just steep enough to finish off the day. Would love to come up for a trail work day with you guys next summer.

  26. #26
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    Heading up to Island Park from Driggs taking my MTB. These posts all look old, would the suggestion of up Mile Creek, Targhee Peak, down Watikins, up West Fork down Sheep still a good one? 4 hours for a decent rider?? Thanks

  27. #27
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    Hey. Just saw this post. Early snows are on the peaks. You may not be able to get through. Still these rides can be good as out and back trips. Be careful and take bear spray.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  28. #28
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    Thanks, would you suggest any particular out and back? I'm good with anything from 2-4 hours, technical is fine, or mellow I like it all. I've never ridden in this area and thought it would be fun to explore. I know it's hunting season too. I will be solo and will take bear spray and an orange vest! Staying at the The Pond's so was hoping to start close to there if possible. Really appreciate your time!

  29. #29
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    From either end of the CDT the ride is real good. Specifically from Targhee Pass or Mile Creek. Do not go up Targhee Creek as the soil is grease unless it's dry. Also it's wild as hell up Targhee Creek, so you should have a partner.
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrookieB View Post
    Thanks, would you suggest any particular out and back? I'm good with anything from 2-4 hours, technical is fine, or mellow I like it all. I've never ridden in this area and thought it would be fun to explore. I know it's hunting season too. I will be solo and will take bear spray and an orange vest! Staying at the The Pond's so was hoping to start close to there if possible. Really appreciate your time!
    I've been riding the last 4 days around Big Sky and Taylor Fork, the Snow has melted, the loop is rideable. Although, tomorrow, Monday, will be your last chance for the week. Count on 5.5 hours minimum if you're in good shape, you'll have to ride the highway for 3 miles if only one car. It's sprinkling a little in Big Sky right now, but the trails are conditioned to accept a little moisture at this point. The trails are FREAKIN' FAST AND SMOOTH right now!!!!!!!
    If you only have 4 hours I recommend CDT off Targhee Pass towards Lionhead and connecting with Watkins, go left (up) Watkins a little ways towards Targhee Peak, then back the way you came. This trail is only 2 years old, so you'll need the newest map. see thread called "Little Loop" or something like that for a ride Greg did that includes this section I describe.
    OR Mile as an out and back to Targhee Peak, a little less bear infested than Watkins...

  31. #31
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    If you get a scattered shower tonight at Ponds then I would do Mile as an out and back, I think it's lower in elevation to start than Targhee Pass. You can start at Raynolds Pass, there's a new CDT section connecting to Mile. And Mile faces South nicely for quick drying.

  32. #32
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    Ok, I think I'm leaning towards Mile as an out and back. Unfortunately the local shops in Driggs did not have the Beartooth Publishing book so I will have to rely on USGS maps unless anyone knows a place in Island Park that sells it. Will have to try the big loop next year. Thanks for all the info.

  33. #33
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    If you pop me your regular email I can send you one that I made from TOPO when we rode Denny Ck to Targhee Ck (Mile should be on there, but not the new section from Reynolds Pass.

  34. #34
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    Thanks everyone I'm all set!

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrookieB View Post
    Thanks everyone I'm all set!
    howd it go?

  36. #36
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    Great. I ended up driving to Free Wheel and Heel in West Yellowstone (because I'm a wimp and I wanted it to warm up just a bit). I bought a map and Kelly suggested I ride off the South side of Targhee Pass. She thought the North side was a bit rough. I took her advice and just did the CDT to Raes Pass and back. I would have liked something more technical but it was a beautiful trail with no grizzlies. Can't wait to explore the area more next year!

  37. #37
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    They always tell people to go there. we need more riders in the Lionhead Range to promote it as a Mt biking destination so the forest service doesnt close it to us. That shop wants it to be wilderness.

  38. #38
    I think this is a trail..
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    Stumbled upon this thread and a few others about the Lionhead Range while planning a southern Montana trip last Summer, glad I did. Rode Mile Creek to Sheep Creek in late August and absolutely loved it, definitely the high light of my trip. Plan to return next summer and do more riding in this area. Who would be the best to write to regarding supporting mountain biking in the Lionhead? It would be a real shame for you all to lose another great area to ride. Always regretted not getting down to do some of the Gallatin Crest.
    Yard Sale! Corner of Courage and Incompetence

  39. #39
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    Sure thing. Please contact Gallatin National Forest. P.O. Box 130 Bozeman, MT 59771 or email: [email protected]

    Any correspondence should be Attn: Mary Erickson, Forest Supervisor

    Be sure to note that you are concerned about Sheep Lake trail, as that trail is under the most immediate threat. Mention specific details that you enjoyed on your trail visit in Lionhead. Thanks for the positive effort!
    I don't know what trail we're on, but at least it's getting dark

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