Philips Canyon Trail follows the summer hiking/biking trail along the north side of the canyon, heading west/southwest with a few switchbacks to gain altitude, following Philips Creek. This trail is at the advanced limit of skinny skiing due to the progressive, untracked or skier tracked climb and descent. For nordic skiers seeking a backcountry, remote experience, yet within easy reach of Wilson and the Westbank, Philips Canyon offers a good adventure.
The trail begins on the west side of the road, opposite the parking space, and winds its way for approx 500 yards until a narrow log bridge crosses the creek. Shortly thereafter, the trail divides - left follows the Bonneville Power line, right begins the Philips Canyon Trail. The powerline trail may have AT ski tracks (wider back-country skis), as the this trail is often used as an practice trail for AT skiers seeking some easy skinning.
The right hand Canyon trail will turn slightly to the left (west) and begin to climb through a forest of mixed aspen, lodgepole pine, and spruce. The trail climbs progressively , such that the returning downhill can be steep for inexperienced skiers on skinny skis. Depending on snow conditions, adding skins ("kicker" or full length) to one's set-up may help with both climbing and descending. After 3/4 mile of climbing, a hidden valley can be seen to the right (north). Continue to follow the main valley/canyon overlooking the main creek bottom (likely to be snow-covered for the most part). The trail traverses open meadows and at 3.5 miles an open basin can be seen as the slope to the left (south) converges in an open shallow bowl. Those familiar with summer trails will recognize this as the junction with the Arrow Trail. Another 400 yrds further, the trail from Teton pass merges from the left. From tis point on, the trail is in open meadow, climbing gently for another mile, with the creek gully to the left. At 4.7 miles, near the top of the upper basin, follow the creek gully to the right (north and make the final climb to Philip's Pass (5.1 miles from the start).
Return via the same route, down the canyon back to Fish Creek Road trail head. Alternatively, one can return via the trail to Teton Pass Road parking lot, rejoining the Ski Lake trail 3/4 of the way out. This 2nd route will require a car shuttle before starting out.