The sparse snow cover at the lower elevations, as trails begin to thaw and become more accessible, has some recreationists eager to begin springtime activities on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The Jackson and Blackrock Ranger Districts still have winter closures in effect until midnight between April 30 and May 1 each year.
Recently the Forest’s winter patrollers have been busy following up on reports of people illegally entering closed winter ranges. Winter closure areas are essential to the survival of wildlife. It is critical that wildlife continues to be undisturbed at this time when their energy reserves are low, pregnant females are in their final trimester, and plants have not yet begun to green-up.
Additionally, virtually all Jackson and Blackrock Ranger District roads remain closed to wheeled vehicles until May 1 when winter restrictions are lifted. Roads and trails are highly vulnerable to damage during spring melt out. Mosquito Creek, Gros Ventre, Swinging Bridge area, and Shadow Mountain are just a few examples of roads that remain closed to wheeled vehicles until May 1. Limited vehicle travel may be encountered on the Gros Ventre and Granite Creek road for residents who need access to private property. Minimizing our impact now will ensure the roads and trails are in the best possible shape when summer arrives.
As winter transitions into spring, snowmobiling and skiing opportunities still exist in many places and hiking, biking, and horse riding opportunities are becoming more plentiful. Some key points to remember include:
1. In the Gros Ventre corridor you can walk, or ride a bicycle or horse on the road and other designated routes but please do not venture off into adjacent closed wildlife winter range.
2. ATVs and motorcycles are not permitted anywhere on the National Forest until May 1st to prevent damage to road and trail surfaces.
3. Wildlife winter range areas south of Jackson remain closed to until May 1st. This includes the slopes above the Putt-putt trail in Cache Creek, the Josie’s Ridge and KC trails, the slopes north of Game Creek, Porcupine Creek, Horse Creek, Camp Creek, Poison Creek, Dog Creek, and the Fall Creek area near Hoback junction.
4. Dog leash requirements are still in effects on the portion of the Game Creek and Putt-putt trail adjacent to designated wildlife winter range.
5. There is no antler gathering allowed on the Bridger-Teton National Forest prior to May 1 west of the Continental Divide
6. Wolf hunting in designated predator areas cannot occur within closed winter range on the Bridger-Teton National Forest
7. Snowmobilers need to be especially careful at this time of year to not create bare dirt trails, and travel only where there is adequate snow cover.
8. You can greatly reduce your impact by not traveling on wet roads or trails. A bike track that leaves a rut creates a channel for water which can significantly erode a trail. Equestrian use on wet trails can have similar adverse effects.