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Mountain Bike The Tetons
August 21, 2023
The Tetons are alive with Trails!
We caught up with Chris Brule, director of Mountain Bike The Tetons, a non profit trail advocacy group in Driggs, ID to learn about their work with the National Forest Service to maintain and create more trails for the community.
Check out our latest video to learn about Mountain Bike The Tetons work in Idaho and Wyoming!
The dusty road paralleling WY22 was engulfed with a colorful pallet of wildflowers. Arriving to the Mail Cabin trailhead, Chris Brule started gearing up while chatting on the phone with a big smile. "That was my dad", he said laughing after catching up with his father. He didn't even try to explain the backcountry ride he was about to embark on, immersed in alpine flora on a trail that would showcase Mountain Bike the Tetons work, but he was still excited to squeeze in a quick chat before going to ride a local favorite.
Chris is a husband and father of two, family is his first priority, but his commitment to the community is a close second. "We're passionate about making sure the community is vibrant and healthy." Chris said while discussing the work that Mountain Bike the Tetons does to create a place that not only his family can enjoy, but everyone else living in the valley and visiting to ride bikes.
Chris Brule - director of Mountain Bike The Tetons
Lathering on the last bit of sun screen, and grabbing his Sentinel, he dropped off the lot, passing a stripped fir tree and plowed through a babbling stream. "The old bridge got washed out in a storm and wasn't up to Forest Service code. We'll use that fir up there and work with the Forest Service to build a new bridge" he said, rolling along the creek leading up the Mail Cabin canyon.
At the base of towering ridges he came to a Y. "These trails were originally used for moving livestock, so in a lot of places they once went straight up the mountains." he said pointing at the direct route and then at the mellow ribbon of trail they had cut a few years ago. "We were tasked to bench cut this to give folks a more enjoyable route to gain the ridge". Following the switchbacks stacked like layer cake, he emerged from the valley floor to some views of Teton pass and a small glimpse of the Grand Teton. "Man, this feels good not having to climb up here with a chainsaw on my back," he said with a chuckle, explaining that before becoming the executive director in January 2023, he was the trails director for 5 years. 99% of the trails are on forest service land, some are non-motorized while some are motorized. Mail Cabin is non motorized, so, even for trail work, you cant use an ebike.
After gaining the ridge, and a completely different microcosm of towering wild flowers, he took off like a kid's first day without training wheels. Wild lupins lashed at his shins cracking as he delicately navigated the ridge top trail. After multiple false summits and sneaky views of the Tetons, he stopped for one last sip of water before plummeting to the valley floor.
Pointing to the small specs of infrastructure at the edge of the vegetated hills he explained a regional BLM travel plan revision to connect the Mike Harris trailhead–where we’d finish our ride that day– to the neighboring community of Victor, ID. "There's a broad spectrum of riders in this valley and our goal is creating something that everyone enjoys to ride." From high level athletes, to families taking their kids on their first mountain bike ride, he finished the ride on a mellow grade that he later explained was part of the 3 mile loop he had taken his 4 year old daughter on just days before.
Driving from Jackson over Teton pass to Victor, Idaho, you're sure to pass cyclists ranging in age as wide as the variety of wildflowers in the Tetons. It’s a busy place and has a big draw to outdoor minded people. The busyness takes away from visiting there, but it also has created an environment to push the norms of trail access and a congruence between the forest service and the mountain bike community unlike many other places. With huge help from Mountain Bike the Tetons, the landscape for trail access and community events is quickly changing in the Tetons.
Be sure to check out MTB the Tetons website for all of their local events as well as ways to support their trails!
Video/story - Myles Trainer