Every month, we feature a different trail as our ‘Trail of the Month’ to inspire and provide guidance tailored to the current season. For November, we chose to feature Teton pass to Mt. Elly, a natural option for ungroomed Nordic skiing on early-season snow.  Thanks to its starting elevation at 8,431 feet (2,570 m) above sea level, it captures some of the early season snow first.

Distance = 3.3 miles

Elevation gain = 252 m

Fee = $0.00

Ski trail options in November are quite limited. This year in particular snow has been slow to arrive in the valley. If you’re looking to get some strides in this time of year, you’re going to need to look up, in elevation above 8,000 ft. This includes Teton Pass, Togwotee Pass, and Grand Targhee.

Earlier this November, we ventured up Teton Pass to ski out to Mt. Elly, an intermediate-level ski and a convenient location for both Jackson Hole and Victor residents in search of early-season snow.

woman excited to be on her first nordic ski of the season on early-season snow
Joy is excited to be back on the early-season snow

First and Foremost:

A Few Considerations Before Driving to the Trailhead

  1. Prepare Your Vehicle for Snow:
    • Check the weather, as conditions can change quickly, even if it’s sunny in town.
    • Ensure your car is equipped with 4WD/AWD and snow tires for safety in snowy terrain.
  2. Carpool to Save Parking Space:
    • Due to limited parking on Teton Pass, consider carpooling with others to the trailhead.
  3. Organize Your Gear:
    • Take the time to go through your gear and make sure everything is ready for the season. Grab the right boots, skis and poles and bring your bear spray!
  4. Embrace Responsible Recreation Practices:
    • Familiarize yourself with Responsible Recreation practices to ensure a positive outdoor experience.
    • This includes:
      • Knowing Before You Go: Research and plan your trip to Mt Elly ahead of time. Pull up the trail map on https://jhnordic.com/trails/teton-pass-south-to-mt-elly/
      • Planning Ahead: Create an itinerary and be prepared for various conditions. Bring some “kicker skins” if you have them to help with several steeper sections. Bring water, a snack, an extra layer, sunglasses. Weather can change quickly.
      • LNT: Leave No Trace. Pick up after yourselves and leave the wilderness even better than you found it. Bring a spare plastic bag to grab a possible dog poop bag you might find on the trail, to keep the trail pristine (even if it’s not your dog).
      • Respecting Wildlife: Maintain a safe distance from wildlife to avoid disturbing them. In the early season, stay ‘bear aware’ and carry bear spray, as bears may not have started hibernating yet.
      • Controlling Your Dog: Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them.
      • Being Kind: Show courtesy to fellow trail users and the environment. share the trail and the beauty of being back on snow!

early-season snow and a sunbeam
Sunbeam on Teton Pass

The Preparation is Worth It

After making the necessary preparations as outlined above, you’ll be all set for your first ski of the season out to Mt. Elly. Few things are as delightful as skiing with friends, so get ready for those exhilarating moments to return soon.

Almost There!

Get Ready for Those First Strides on Early-season Snow

  1. Detailed Trail Directions:
  2. Assess Conditions and Your Ability:
    • Be mindful of the trail conditions and assess your own skill level, as this is an intermediate trail with 4 or 5 switchbacks.
    • Kick turns are recommended to navigate the slightly steeper uphill and downhill sections midway out.
    • Keep in mind that it’s an intermediate trail throughout, as it involves uphill sections.
  3. Choose Your Route:
    • If you prefer a shorter and easier ski, head to the communication towers and back. This round trip takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.
    • For a longer adventure, continue to the trail to Mt. Elly. This narrow skiing track is often set by backcountry skiers and takes about 1.5 to 2 hours round trip. You might want to consider using skins on Nordic skis if you’re heading to Mt. Elly.
  4. Watch Out for a Lack of Base:
    • In the early season, be aware that there may be no base, and you might encounter rocks, roots, or grass on the trail.
  5. Share the Trail with a Friendly Community:
    • Remember that you’ll be sharing the trail with a friendly community of fellow snow enthusiasts, all excited to rediscover the joy of skiing on the first snow of the season.

Welcome Early-Season Snow

Whether you’re using classic Nordic skis, an AT setup, or snowshoes, with or without a dog, there’s plenty of space and room to share the skier track. There is a strong sense of camaraderie on the trails, and during this early season, the energy is bursting with excitement as everyone returns to the snow.

Share your adventure with us by leaving a review on the trail page or post a picture and tag JHNordic. Have fun, be safe..

Grass is peaking through the early-season snow
Early-season snow is a thin layer. Be careful of rocks, roots, and grass on the trail.

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