Exploring Grand Teton National Park is getting easier if you like to take your time by walking or cycling. Visitors to the park this summer will have more than 20 miles of multiple-use pathways to use to avoid vehicles as they enjoy Grand Teton.
Work wrapped up earlier this month on a 6.5-mile pathway that parallels Highway 26/89/191 from the Gros Ventre River to Moose Junction within the park. It opened to the public on May 23.
The opening of Grand Teton's new "Highway 89 pathway" completes a 12.5-mile stretch that connects Jackson to Moose and the Phase I pathway that runs from Dornan's to the south Jenny Lake area. More than 20 miles of multi-use, public pathways now extend from Jackson to Jenny Lake on the Teton Park Road.
The Highway 89 pathway actually spans two distinct federal agency lands: the National Elk Refuge (6 miles) and Grand Teton National Park (6.5 miles). The pathway leg from Jackson to the north bank of the Gros Ventre River crosses land managed by the National Elk Refuge. Because this pathway segment does not fall under the jurisdiction of Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Community Pathways worked with refuge officials and took the lead on managing design and construction of this leg, as well as the bridge spanning the Gros Ventre River.
The 6.5-mile-long section connecting the north bank of the Gros Ventre River to Moose Junction crosses land managed by Grand Teton. Park staff worked with Western Federal Lands Highways Division engineers to design and construct this segment, the small bridge over a side channel to the north of the Gros Ventre River, and the underpass at Moose Junction.
Special rules and regulations apply to park areas that are open to non-motorized use, and the new Highway 89 pathway in Grand Teton is no exception. This pathway bisects an important wildlife corridor not previously occupied by people on foot or bike; therefore, users will need to follow special regulations designed to diminish adverse impacts to animals that frequent this park area.
For example, pets are not allowed on any of Grand Teton's multi-use pathways: a regulation levied to reduce potential impacts to wildlife from the presence of domestic animals. Users will only be allowed on pathways from dawn to dusk; nighttime use is not permitted.
On all park pathways, bicyclists, inline skaters, hikers, and other users will be encouraged to follow basic rules of courtesy and safety, such as: Be alert for bears and maintain a safe distance from all wildlife (especially bison, moose and elk); obey the sunset to sunrise closure for protection of wildlife; respect the rights of others; ride single file and stay on the right side of the pathway; use a bell, whistle or voice whenever passing others; wear appropriate protective equipment such as helmets and pads; observe bicycle speeds that are reasonable to the numbers and safety of other users; and don't use motorized vehicles (exception of wheelchairs and other devices for persons with mobility impairment).
A Phase III pathway segment will connect Moose Junction with the junction to Antelope Flats Road about one mile north. Design and planning for this pathway segment will take place in coming months with construction scheduled for late summer 2013 and completion in the fall of 2014. This pathway leg will involve the building of a bridge over a deep ravine carved by Ditch Creek.