Patterson Creek Canyon is one of 5 easily accessible canyons from Jackson Hole and Teton Valley in the east side of the Big Hole Mountains (west side of Teton Valley, ID). Coming from Victor, Patterson Creek Canyon is the southern most drainage that offers a reasonable cross-country ski trail (skier tracked trail)
Patterson Creek begins at the end of 6750 South off Cedrun Road/4500 West. The west end of the road is a dead-end, with limited parking, and 3 homes tucked into the base of the canyon.
The trail begins on the south side of the roadend, heads south for 100 yards, then bends west, passing a small gray house on the south hillside. Follow Patterson Creek through the woods, heading west. There is likely to be a snow mobile track to follow. In our case, there was fresh snow covering the track but a nice depression left by the tracks in the deep snow to see and follow the trail through the woods.
Follow the creek west, past a Targhee National Forest sign, and continue west through willows, aspens and conifers up the canyon valley floor. The trail is relatively flat the entire way up the drainage, so the main challenge is to cross the creek occasionally, when the snow does not fully cover the creek.
We skied Patterson Creek in late March and the snow varied from cool dry fine powder in the shady north aspects to firm crust in the morning, warming to a nice ½ inch soft corn surface just after noon for the return ski. The snow base was deep, however, at times, the meandering creek in the spring melt was exposed, so we had to look for snow bridges to cross. In mid winter, the creek is likely to be under a blanket of snow and easier to navigate up the valley.
At 1.4 miles, the trail reaches a T intersection, where the trail to the north (right) goes out and up to “Low Pass”. Low Pass connects Patterson Creek canyon with Henderson Creek canyon to the north. We followed a snowmobile track half way up the pass (300+ feet above) – an exploratory side trip - then returned via smooth untracked corn snow – just do-able and fun on skinny classic skis.
Back at the T intersection, we continued west up Patterson Creek thru open meadows and beautiful stands of aspens. One could go further west than our GPS track illustrates. After approx. 2 miles from the start, the canyon narrows somewhat, so the nice flat open terrain is sporadic. The upper stretches of the canyon become too steep and narrow for skinny skis.
Return via the same route. Downhill was a gentle, easy run, aside from navigating the occasional snow bridge. Our dog enjoyed the adventure, too.