11 Great Hikes in Jackson Hole

Here are 11 hikes in Jackson Hole that are great options for new visitors looking to explore local trails. Many of them are in Grand Teton National Park which contains some of the area’s most dramatic scenery, while others lie in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which shouldn’t be overlooked for scenery and solitude. All of the following suggestions can be done as day hikes, but many also can be connected with other trails or canyons to make an overnight loop for backpacking.
Abbreviations listed at end of each description denote whether a given hike can be part of a larger canyon-to-canyon backpacking outing and tells you whether or not you can bring your canine companion (dogs are not allowed on trails in Grand Teton National Park).

 

 

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ABBREVIATION KEY:
DH: Day Hike BP: Backpacking
ND: No Dogs DA: Dogs Allowed

1. Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon
As the name implies, this trail accesses a cascading waterfall and a stunning, glacially carved canyon just north of the tallest Teton peaks, and so it’s easy to understand why it’s one of area’s most popular outings. A moderate, mostly flat two-mile hike around the south end of Jenny Lake brings you to scenic Hidden Falls. From there the trail climbs steeply for about a mile to the mouth of Cascade Canyon proper. Then the route flattens and once again offers easier hiking for the next several miles. Park for this trip at the Jenny Lake Ranger Station on the east side of the lake. If you prefer, a boat shuttle carries hikers across the lake every 15 minutes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m daily during the high season (shorter hours start after Labor Day), dropping you within a half mile of Hidden Falls. This is a good option for hikers who want to get farther into Cascade Canyon on a day trip. This route can be connected with Paintbrush Canyon to make a good overnight backpacking trip (park camping permit required). DH :: BP :: ND

2. Bradley and Taggart Lakes
Another classic Teton hike, this area is generally a bit less busy than Hidden Falls, though still very popular. After leaving the parking lot 2.5 miles north of the Moose Visitor Center, the trail soon divides. One route goes to the south and one goes to the north. These paths reunite at Taggart Lake. Hiking either way makes a nice loop of about four miles. The trail meanders through old glacial moraines and creek bottoms. This route is well-maintained and the hiking is fairly easy with a bit of up and down. Along the north route to Taggart Lake hikers will encounter another trail divide. Heading to the right, this route goes to neighboring Bradley Lake and adds about a mile to the trip.  DH :: ND

3. Teton Pass to the head of Black Canyon
This short hike – slightly less than four miles – has the advantage of starting at nearly 8,500 feet atop Teton Pass, so you don’t have to gain the elevation on foot for a walk high in the mountains. Drive west on Hwy. 22 through Wilson and up to the summit of Teton Pass. Park in the large lot on the south side of the road, and start your hike at the west end of the parking lot by walking up a two-track dirt access road. After a little less than a half mile, and at the end of a short switchback, a trail will leave the road on the right near a large electrical tower. The trail climbs gradually over another mile and a half through alpine meadows and forest to the head of Black Canyon.  DH :: DA

5 Lake Hikes in Grand Teton | Skinny Skis
Marion Lake at the top of Granite Canyon

 

4. Granite Canyon and Teton Village
The trailhead for Granite Canyon is reached by driving north on the Teton Village Road. After passing the turnoff to Teton Village, you’ll soon reach a park entrance station and the Granite Canyon trailhead is located about a half mile beyond the station (RVs are not allowed). The trail leads west toward the mountains and, after about a half mile of hiking, you’ll cross Granite Creek. Hiking another three quarters of a mile brings you to a junction with the Valley Trail. Go right. After crossing Granite Creek again, turn left at a second junction, which takes you into Granite Canyon proper. The trail climbs moderately into the canyon, following the creek. Hike as far into the canyon as you want before making a return trip via the same route. Backpackers can connect to Death Canyon or, for a longer trip, Alaska Basin and out Cascade Canyon (park camping permit required). In addition, this hike can be accessed from Teton Village by walking from the center of Teton Village north, alongside the Teewinot Chairlift, past the bottom of the Apres Vous Chairlift (to its east) and look for the Valley Trail heading off to the right. After roughly two miles, this trail connects with the trail heading into Granite Canyon. DH :: BP :: ND

5. Phelps Lake and Death Canyon
A short day hike from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, starting at the parking area for t  he Rockefeller Preserve on the Moose-Wilson Road 4.4 miles north of Teton Village. Parking space is limited and usually fills up before noon. A nice three-mile loop starts at the Rockefeller center and follows Lake Creek (the outlet of Phelps lake), approximately a mile and a half to the lake. Trails are very well marked and bridges are built over all stream crossings. To lengthen your hike, follow the trail around Phelps Lake (approximately four miles), which makes a complete loop back to your starting point. This gentle trail with some ups and downs is not difficult, but your total roundtrip mileage from the car will be around nine miles. At the far end of the lake, a trail winds up to Death Canyon for those looking to a more moderate/difficult hike, or climb up the switchbacks to Phelps Lake Overlook for spectacular views. Heading back to your car involves a couple of choices from the east end of the lake. You can return on the Lake Creek Trail loop or take the Aspen Ridge Loop or Boulder Ridge Loop. Both of these loops connect back to the Lake Creek Trail which then returns to the parking area.  DH :: BP :: ND

6. Swan Lake, Heron Pond & Hermitage Point
Hikers who like to get out early will find that the rolling terrain along this trail is great habitat for a variety of birds and other wildlife, such as moose. The hike starts at the Colter Bay parking area north of Moran Junction. Simply going to Swan Lake and returning is an easy two miles. A loop involving both Swan Lake and Heron Pond requires a  little more effort and a three-mile hike. Hiking by both ponds and out to Hermitage Point, a peninsula on Jackson Lake, is a more industrious undertaking, involving about eight miles, though it is all flat terrain. DH :: ND

7. Two Ocean Lake
For those who want to get away from more crowded areas, Two Ocean Lake is a good option. Located in the northeast part of Grand Teton National Park, the hike features more rolling terrain and distant views of the Tetons. The trailhead is reached by driving through the park’s Moran entrance station and turning right onto the Pacific Creek Road after about a mile. Follow the signs for about four more miles to the parking area. A six-mile loop circles Two Ocean Lake, and a side trip from the west end of the lake climbs about a mile to Grand View Point, where you can see much of the surrounding area. Carry bear-repelling pepper spray due to frequent bear activity in this area. DH :: ND

5 Lake Hikes in Grand Teton | Skinny Skis8. Paintbrush Canyon and Holly Lake
This hike accesses one of the quieter canyons in the central part of the Teton Range. Like the route to Leigh Lake, the hike begins at String Lake parking area. Follow the route toward Leigh Lake, but take a left and cross the bridge at the junction near the end of String Lake. The lower part of this hike is heavily treed, but eventually you will climb out of the forest for views back toward Leigh and Jackson Lakes. You’ll be able to see the steep alpine terrain above you. This is another hike that can vary in length depending on a hiker’s ability. Go a couple of miles for a moderate hike or spend the entire day climbing roughly 2,500 feet to Holly Lake. DH :: ND

9. Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
This ten-mile round trip is a Teton classic, but because it climbs about 3,000 vertical feet over five miles it is considered difficult. An early start is recommended. The parking area is reached by turning west into Lupine Meadows just south of the Jenny Lake area. Then drive to the end of the road. The trail winds 1.7 miles, climbing gradually to a trail junction. Take the uphill trail where the route starts a series of 10 or 12 steeper switchbacks. Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes are carved into a high cirque on Disappointment Peak with the Grand Teton in the background. DH :: ND

Tranquil Evening at Goodwin Lake
Tranquil Evening at Goodwin Lake

10. Goodwin Lake
Popular for its proximity to the town of Jackson, this hike is reached by driving a rough dirt road to about 8,000 feet (no RVs). Drive out of east Jackson on the Elk Refuge Road. Continue about eight miles until you see a well-used and marked road turning right into Curtis Canyon. Follow this road and, at the only fork, continue straight on the right fork and drive until the road ends at the trailhead’s parking area. Roughly 3 miles of moderate uphill hiking brings you to Goodwin Lake, which is located underneath Jackson Peak. The lake itself makes a nice half-day outing. The outing, can be made longer by continuing southeast on the trail toward Cache Peak before returning the same way. Backpackers can do an out-and-back trip to the vicinity of Jackson Peak (no permit required) and this is a great area to take dogs. DH :: DA

11. Cache Creek
Because of its proximity to the town of Jackson and the
greater Snow King area, the Cache Creek trailhead in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is the area’s most popular year ‘round recreation destination. Whether your interest is hiking, mountain biking or horseback riding, Cache Creek provides some fantastic summer terrain. There are a number of trails that originate at the Cache Creek trailhead so even if you have limited time there is something for almost everyone. Check out the informative kiosk at the trailhead for more trail options. DH :: DA

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