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Greater Snow King Trail Network

The Greater Snow King Trail Network is a massive complex of trails, ranging from easy and short to strenuous and long. Many trails even access longer trails that continue deeper into the wilderness for lengthy backpacking excursions.

For simplicity, I’ve broken the trail system down into three main sections: Snow King Mountain, Cache Creek, and Game Creek. Within each area is a quick description of each of the prominent trails and what to expect from it. More prominent trails will have links to read for more detailed information. A list of trailheads can be found in the last section.

Snow King Mountain Trail Area

Snow King Summit Trail Under Storms

Snow King Mountain is the core of the trail system, so we’ll begin there. This will include all the trails on the north side of the mountain, spanning from the west side through Snow King Ski Resort. While numerous trails intersect and wind along the bottom of the mountain, most are primarily in the lower third. Only Josie’s Ridge and the Snow King Summit Trail access the summit (from this area).

Josie’s Ridge Trail

At 2 miles long, the Josie’s Ridge Trail begins near Russ Garaman Park and ascends the west side of Snow King Mountain. Intersecting several trails along the way, many people hike part of the trail, or continue upward. Reaching a saddle roughly halfway up, many people will stop here or ascend a small ridge to the west. The Josie’s Ridge Trail continues east up along the crest of Snow King Mountain, ultimately reaching the summit after 2 strenuous miles.

Sink or Swim Trail

The Sink or Swim Trail is a primary artery of the Snow King Trail Network. Stretching along the bottom third of the mountain, the trail connects the Josie’s Ridge Trail on the west to the Hagen Highway in the east, seamlessly bringing hikers and mountain bikers to the Cache Creek area. It’s used for numerous purposes, primarily to get from one trail to another. These range from Josie’s Ridge, as mentioned, to the Snow King Summit Trail, to the plethora of lower elevation trails to make easier loops.

KC Trail

The KC Trail is the longest of the lower elevation trails at 1 mile long. The trail begins along Flat Creek right next to the start of the Josie’s Ridge Trail. Gently climbing the base of the mountain, the trail connects to several others on its ascent eastward. These include Linda’s Trail, the Champa Trail, and more, finally intersecting with the Sink or Swim Trail at its eastern terminus.

Aspen Trees Along KC Trail
A large aspen tree grove lining the KC Trail along the base of Snow King Mountain. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Snow King Summit Trail

The granddaddy of the trails here, the Snow King Summit Trail is a strenuous 2 mile ascent up to the summit of the mountain from the base of the gondola. Climbing one steep switchback after another, the trail never relents on its way up. The trail will make use of both old and new service roads as part of the trail, while also crossing the Sink or Swim Trail.

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Smaller Trails and Connectors

There are several smaller trails and connectors in this area, which you’ll see both on the map here, as well as on the maps found at any trail intersection. Some of the more prominent ones are listed below.

Linda’s Trail provides access straight to the Sink or Swim Trail from the Wildlife Lane Trailhead, which is a popular origin point to be in the heart of this part of the trail network.

The Champa Trail forks eastward off of the KC Trail, connecting with the Sink or Swim Trail just a bit farther east.

Shade Monkey starts next to the Snow King Summit Trail, gently switchbacking up to the Sink or Swim Trail, just east of the Champa Trail.

Kelly’s Trail provides an alternate route from the base of the Josie’s Ridge Trail to a bit farther up. It wanders through stunning aspen tree groves, providing a great short loop opportunity.

Smaller connectors provide easy trail access to nearby neighborhoods, as well as shortcuts from the Josie’s Ridge Trail to other nearby trails.


Cache Creek Trail Area

The Cache Creek Trail Network is an extensive network of trails with everything from short easy hikes to the start of multiday strenuous hikes. Most of the trails are based around Cache Creek itself, with many also ascend around the creek’s canyon.

Sidewalk Trail in Cache Creek Network
The Sidewalk Trail meandering below higher Gros Ventre peaks in the Cache Creek Trail network. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Cache Creek Trail

The main Cache Creek Trail runs along the titular creek, hitting the Gros Ventre Wilderness boundary at 5.5 miles in. The trail continues deeper into the Gros Ventre Mountains, but any discussion beyond this point is beyond the scope of this post. Along the way in are numerous connectors to the Sidewalk Trail, the Hagen Trail, and the Putt Putt Trail, allowing the opportunity to add a change of scenery to a return trip. Many people use the trail to hike anywhere from 1-2 miles to lengthier day trips or more.

Sidewalk trail

The Sidewalk Trail begins a short distance west of the Cache Creek Trailhead and parallels the trail before intersecting with it after two miles in. The easy trail provides a slightly higher vantage point than the Cache Creek Trail, opening up the views a little more. It makes for a great component for a shorter loop.

Hagen Trail

The Hagen Trail also parallels the Cache Creek Trail, but opposite the Putt Putt Trail. It originates just west of the Cache Creek Trailhead and continues up the canyon, winding back several miles to intersect with the Cache Creek Trail at its eastern terminus. Spending most of its time in the woods, it also makes for a nice change of scenery for a loop.

Hagen Highway Trail

The Hagen Highway Trail branches off from the Hagen Trail to ascend a bit higher into the forest. Still a relatively easy trail, the 1.5 mile path ends where it connects with the Sink or Swim Trail, connecting the Snow King area to the Cache Creek area.

Ferrin’s Trail

The Ferrin’s Trail begins just a short distance up the Hagen Trail, west of the Cache Creek Trailhead, and switchbacks southward up the mountain for 3 miles, ending on a saddle that intersects with the Skyline Trail and the Wilson Canyon Trail. The mostly forested trail ends in a stunning overlook of the valley of Jackson Hole just below the intersection.

Putt Putt Trail

The Putt Putt Trail is a 5 mile hike that, while easily accessed from the main Cache Creek Trail, originates from the Nelson Drive Trailhead a bit northwest. This scenic trail winds through exposed hills and forested groves before exploring deeper into the canyon. While it parallels the Cache Creek Trail the entire way, the easternmost couple of miles can feel far removed.

Forests and Aspens Along Putt Putt Trail
Forests and aspen groves covering mountainsides along the Putt Putt Trail in the Gros Ventre Mountains. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Woods Canyon

The Woods Canyon Trail provides the quickest route into the Gros Ventre Wilderness. The trail rolls along exposed hillsides and quick forest groves before climbing steeply up a remote-feeling side canyon of Cache Creek. Though there is no particular destination or incredible vantage point, the official trail ends toward the top of the canyon at 2.6 miles in from the Nelson Drive Trailhead.

Crystal Butte

The Crystal Butte Trail is a local’s favorite for a quick but challenging climb into the Gros Ventre Mountains. The trail provides stunning vistas of Jackson Hole as it reaches higher up the butte, a lower mountain of the Gros Ventres. Another trail without a discernable end, this trail officially terminates at 2 miles from the Nelson Drive Trailhead, using a bit of the Woods Canyon Trail to access its origin.

Crystal Lite

The Crystal Lite Trail is quicker and shorter but nearly as steep alternative to the Crystal Butte Trail. Located lower in elevation, and thus, closer to the trailhead, the top of the trail also provides wonderful views of the valley without as much effort as its counterpart.

Smaller Trails and Connectors

The River Trail is a short scenic alternative to the Hagen Trail that runs along Cache Creek.

Several short, numbered Bridge Connector Trails link the Hagen Trail to the Cache Creek Trail, and are named for their footbridges that cross Cache Creek.

The Woods Connector, Wiggle Trail, Serengeti Trail, and Gauging Station Trail all connect the Putt Putt Trail to the Cache Creek Trail over quick descents. Only the Gauging Station Trail also doubles as one of the Bridge Connectors.


Game Creek Trail Area

The Game Creek Trail and its neighboring trails begin much farther south of Jackson relative to the other areas thus far, but provide an equal opportunity for fascinating and wild adventures. Each trail ascends up a different canyon in the Gros Ventre Mountain foothills south of Snow King Mountain to explore the expansive hills and open landscapes.

Game Creek Trail

The most prominent trail in the area is the Game Creek Trail. At 6.3 miles, it begins 8.8 miles south of Jackson and heads north until it intersects with the Cache Creek Trail. A shorter loop can be made out of beaver pond trails, or a much longer loop can be incorporated using other trails in the area. With gorgeous mountains increasing in size along the way, the remote scenery never disappoints.

Skyline Trail

Intersecting the Game Creek Trail closer to its northern terminus, the Skyline Trail ascends up a ridgeline and follows the crest for 6.5 miles before connecting with the Ferrin’s Trail and Wilson Canyon Trail. The trail continues another 0.9 miles west toward the summit of Snow King Mountain, connecting with the summit trail just below the top of the mountain. Along the way are unparalleled views of the Gros Ventre Mountains and beyond.

West Game Creek Trail

The West Game Creek Trail connects with the main Game Creek Trail about halfway up, at 3.4 miles in. This wild-feeling trail ascends farther into the lower Gros Ventre Mountains, gradually approaching Snow King Mountain. Before reaching it, however, it connects with the Wilson Canyon Trail.

Autumn Leaves Above Game Creek Trail
Autumn leaves changing on the aspen trees lining the Game Creek Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Wilson Canyon Trail

While much of the Wilson Canyon Trail is considered fairly easy, its second mile is notoriously strenuous as it climbs sharply through the deep rocky canyon. Once out, it parallels a perennial creek below large open hills before reaching the West Game Creek Trail. From there, it follows another creek upward, gradually approaching the junction with the Skyline Trail and Ferrin’s Trail, showing off wild high desert views in rolling hills that few hikers rarely visit.

Adam’s Canyon

The Adam’s Canyon Trail is another steep challenge that climbs the lower mountains behind Snow King Mountain. Beginning directly up a rocky canyon, the trail wastes no time ascending. Once out of the canyon, another difficult climb awaits, topping out among higher hills. From the end, you can head west to the Leeks Canyon Trail, or east to the Wilson Canyon Trail.

South Fork of Leek’s Canyon Trail

The South Fork of Leek’s Canyon Trail connects the Leek’s Canyon Trail to the Wilson Canyon Trail. It also crosses over a junction with the Adam’s Canyon Trail along the way. The trail winds through similar terrain to its connected trails, providing gorgeous landscapes of rolling hills.

Leeks Canyon Trail

The Leeks Canyon Trail is also an old service road that traverses down the back side of Snow King Mountain. Heading down its titular canyon, it makes a steep descent, connecting with the Leeks Canyon Connector(?) before dead-ending into private property. For this reason, it sees more mountain biking traffic than hiking.

A&W Trail

The A&W Trail is an easy 1.2 mile trail connecting the Adams Canyon Trail and the Wilson Canyon Trail, hence, A&W. The trail is most commonly used by people already in the neighborhood looking for a quick and easy few miles, to those making a larger loop between the two canyons.


Trailheads

The Cache Creek Trailhead is one of the most popular trailheads on this list. It provides quick convenient access to virtually every trail in the Cache Creek area.

The Nelson Drive Trailhead is just northwest of the Cache Creek Trailhead, and provides easier access to the Putt Putt Trail (western terminus), as well as both Crystal Butte and Crystal Lite.

The Snow King Mountain Trailhead is a primary trailhead for accessing the Snow King Summit via the Summit Trail. Many users will also traverse the Sink or Swim Trail in either direction for optional loops.

The Wildlife Lane Trailhead is an easier access route for the Josie’s Ridge Trail, as well as loop options for the lower-elevation trails on Snow King Mountain.

The Flat Creek Trailhead is the primary trailhead used to access the Josie’s Ridge Trail, as well as the KC Trail. Together these can be utilized to make scenic shorter loops.

The Adam’s Canyon Trailhead naturally provides access to the Adam’s Canyon Trail as well as the A&W Trail.

The Wilson Canyon Trailhead also provides access to the A&W Trail, as well as its namesake, the Wilson Canyon Trail.

The Game Creek Trailhead is the farthest southern trailhead on this list, and only provides access to the Game Creek Trail’s southern terminus.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com