Jackson Hole Hiking
Jackson Hole offers some of the best hiking in America. There is an extensive trail system with well-marked trails and many easy day hikes for people of all ages. Here are descriptions of some of the more popular trails.
Phelps Lake Loop
Phelps Lake is one of the nicest and most accessible hikes in Grand Teton National Park. It is an 8.4 mile intermediate loop and is considered a family friendly hike. It offers amazing lake views and beautiful flowers along the way. The main trailhead is at Lawrance Rockefeller preserve off of the Moose-Wilson Road, which sits at an elevation of 6405 feet. You can also access the trail from Death Canyon trailhead and other adjoining trails.
The Lawrance Rockefeller preserve trailhead can get very crowded, therefore it’s a good idea to start early before the parking lot is full. Always bring bear spray to this area because bears are often sighted here.
Snow King Summit Trail
Snow King Mountain is in the town of Jackson, Wyoming, and is also known as the “town hill.” In the winter, it is a ski resort, and during the summer the mountain is frequently used by locals for hiking and exercise. You’ll see plenty of dogs along the way.
The trail is 1.8 miles long and a little over 1500 feet of vertical rise to the top. At the top, there are beautiful views of the Tetons, the Elk Refuge and the Gros Ventre Range. It’s a fun hike and takes only a couple hours to complete with no drive required if you’re staying in town.
On the same ridge as Snow King, there is Josie‘s Ridge which is near the new post office and can be accessed via a trailhead nearby.
Static Divide and Death Canyon
The name sounds a little scary, but this trail offers some of the most amazing scenery in Grand Teton National Park with plenty of wildflowers, wildlife, and beautiful mountain lakes. It is very important to bring bear spray as this is a common area for bears, both grizzlies and black bears.
The trailhead, White Grass trailhead, can be accessed off of the Moose-Wilson Road. When you drive into the parking area, make sure that you drive as far up the dirt road as you can in order to save yourself a longer hike which is not so fun at the end of the day.
A good spot for a rest during your hike is the scenic Phelps Lake Overlook. After a break, you’ll descend down switchbacks to the junction with the Death Canyon trail. From here you can divert left to Phelps Lake or continue on your way up Death Canyon. You’ll climb steeply until you reach the Alaska Basin trail, and then the hike becomes more challenging. From here, it is a heavy duty hike up to almost 11,000 feet above sea level. It is a very demanding hike to get to the top of Static Peak, so plan ahead and know your limitations.
The Tram to the Gondola Hike
This is a family friendly hike that starts with a ride up the tram to 10,450 feet.
The trip up the tram is a must do activity on your visit to Jackson Hole. Everyone young and old loves the trip up Rendezvous Mountain, which is rugged and majestic. This trail is unique because the hiking does not start until you get to the top. From the top of the tram, the trail follows a descending ridgeline that takes you down to the gondola. On the way down, make sure you check out Corbet’s Couloir, the most famous ski run at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
The Teton Crest Trail
This is a multi-day hike that requires some long-term planning. Having said that, it is one of the most beautiful and challenging hikes in America spanning 35 miles or so, depending on your access points. It passes almost all of the famous spots in Grand Teton National Park.
If you’re looking for a very special backpacking trip over three or four nights that passes all the scenic hotspots, this is a great trail for you. The trail is not a loop, therefore you will need to park a car at each end of your hike.
You can save a lot of time and energy by accessing the Teton Crest Trail from the top of the tram. From there you’ll pass Holly Lake, Marion Lake, and Lake Solitude. You eventually hit Hurricane Pass where you’ll encounter amazing views of the Tetons and other mountain peaks. To top things off you’ll hit Alaska Basin, Death Canyon Shelf, and beautiful Cascade Canyon. The Teton Crest Trail is a high elevation trail and is open for hiking starting in July and ending in early to mid-September.
Sleeping Indian Trail
This trail is a favorite for Jackson locals and is quite challenging, with an overall elevation gain of more than 4000’. The difficulty of this trail is increased especially on hot days because of the extensive rock exposure. The trail is 12-14 miles in distance, depending on your start and end points, and is located in the Gros Ventre Wilderness offering amazing views of the valley and the entire Teton Range.
The name Sleeping Indian comes from the fact that when you look at it from a distance, it looks like a sleeping Native American lying on his back.
This is a scenic hike through the Bridger-Teton National Forest, a pine forest with lush meadows. It’s definitely off the beaten path, and therefore gets less crowds.
Once you get through the main part of the trail, you’ll reach the “belly” of Sleeping Indian and where there’s an additional 1300’ of vertical rise to reach the top. Once you’ve reached the top, you’ll take in the spectacular views of the valley below and the Teton Range in the distance.
Paintbrush Divide to Cascade Canyon
This is a difficult, long day hike and should not be considered unless you are very fit. The trail is a 19-23 mile loop (depending on access points) and requires a difficult climb up and down the slopes of Paint Brush Divide at 10,700’ above sea level.
One access point is from the trailhead at Leigh Lake. Here you’ll start your hike with a relatively easy trek along the eastern shore of String Lake. Once you hike into the Paintbrush Canyon, you’ll see wonderful wildflowers and striking canyon walls. This hike can be tackled going in either direction from Cascade Canyon up to Lake Solitude, over the Divide and back down Paintbrush Canyon, or in the reverse as described above.
Jenny Lake Loop
This is a short hike and a favorite for most anyone who comes to Jackson Hole. For this reason, it is the busiest trail in the park. You are likely to enjoy this hike more by getting to the trail first thing in the morning.
To start the hike, you have two options. First, you can start hiking around Jenny Lake in either direction. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry from the south end of Jenny Lake to the west shore boat dock. The boat trip is very fun and reasonably priced. After you arrive at the west shore boat dock, it’s less than a mile round trip to beautiful Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, popular attractions in this location.
At this point, you can head back to the trailhead or continue into Cascade Canyon for even more amazing scenery.
Conclusion: Jackson Hole hiking is fantastic and can be enjoyed by the whole family.