Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
The “Big Holes” mountain range (the northern portion of the Snake River Range) is located across the valley from Grand Targhee Resort and is a well-known snowmobile destination.
The groomed snowmobile trails there are a great option for fat bikers looking for a big day on snow. Parking is at the “Kay Dairy” trailhead, launching riders immediately from the trailhead into a 14% grade climb.
Mercifully, the climb is short and levels off for a brief recovery before resuming at a kinder grade.
If you want to assess your mental toughness, a start like that effectively measures a rider’s resolve! If the snow conditions are firm and undisturbed by any recent snowmobile activity, the trail gains elevation quite enjoyably.
The 17-mile Big Holes Loop route ascends steeply, never more than a mile at a time before providing a level-ish recovery stretch.
In that manner, the 2,000-foot, 9-mile climb never feels overly grueling.
Firm snow conditions allow a rider to fully enjoy the varying environments along the way and will be much appreciated during the steep climbs.
It is worth noting that several climbs would be hike-a-bike in soft conditions.
The physical effort to gain the high point is the admission price to a view of the Tetons! Be sure to enjoy a well-deserved snack while soaking in the view before adding a layer and beginning the descent. The descent is shorter and steeper than the climb, but comes in short stages as a series of “stair-steps.” That makes the descent more fun, and less tiring, than miles of steady elevation loss.
If there has been intense sunshine, the softened snow will make a few steep corners a bit “spicy.” While riding through the canyon, keep an eye out for moose; they are not uncommon in this area.
In closing the loop, enjoy a bit of mellow cruising before the final 14% drop back to the trailhead.
This is a truly fantastic ride in a stunningly-beautiful location!