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I was about 15 miles into riding the Ashton-Tetonia Rail Trail on Saturday when I came upon a guy who didn’t seem to want me to pass. At least not without first getting a few answers.
“Is this the rail trail?” he asked as he stepped into my path.
“Yes, the Ashton to Tetonia Rail Trail,” I answered after stopping. The guy had parked his car just off an intersecting road to the trail.
“I couldn’t find the start of the trail,” he said. “Where does it start in Ashton?”
For several minutes we discussed the trail — where it starts and ends and what to expect. He said he planned on bringing his grandchildren back to ride it.
“Seems like the perfect outing.”
If you’re looking for a nice mountain bike ride that’s low on adventure and high on scenery, this outing fits the bill.
To get to the north end start, drive to Ashton and turn right (east) on Main Street (this is also state Highway 47). Continue east on this street to the far side of town. About a half-mile past the high school, look for a large brown sign on the right side of the road announcing the Ashton-Tetonia trail. On the left (north) side of the road is a small parking lot and pit toilet. Park here and cross back over the highway (south) to access the rail trail. This trail — it generally looks like a jeep trail — roughly parallels Highway 32.
Because it is built on the old railroad bed, the grade is mellow — 2 or 3 percent is about as steep as it gets.
There is one exception, about 12 miles into the ride, the trail takes a detour around some private land on a rough up-and-down farm road. The detour is poorly signed. Follow the farm road to its end at a large gravel road. Here, turn right and follow this road to its end at Highway 32. At the highway, turn left and ride a wide shoulder for a few hundred yards to pick up the rail trail on the south end of an old Pillsbury grain silo.
The highlight of the ride are the three trestle bridges across deep river and creek crossings.
I rode south to the Bitch Creek trestle bridge (20 miles), then turned around and rode back to Ashton.
This route is also famous for its world-class scenery. As you travel south, the Teton Range rises in front of you. Alas, Saturday’s smoke-filled skies cheated me out of much of the views.
The return ride from Bitch Creek to Ashton was about 3 to 5 mph faster. I attribute the extra speed to a slight tailwind, generally trending downhill and thoughts of getting a strawberry shake at the Frostop Inn in Ashton.
If you have a shuttle vehicle, you can leave it in Tetonia and ride the entire 30 miles in one direction.
The southern end of the trail from Tetontia to the Bitch Creek trestle bridge seems to be most popular. I think folks like the shorter approach to the bridge.
For more information on this and other mountain bike trails, refer to “Eastern Idaho Sweet Spots” by Jerry Painter and Matt TeNgaio.
This article first appeared on www.postregister.com
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