12 Top-Rated Hiking Trails in Grand Teton National Park
Lining the trails with big alpine backdrops, glacier-fed waters, and a wide assortment of wildlife, Grand Teton National Park is a true hiker's paradise. With iconic hikes, like the backcountry Teton Crest Trail, and different canyons waiting to be explored, the park proudly displays some of the most outstanding mountain scenery in the American West. With plenty of trails to choose from, it caters to all skill levels of hikers, and alongside every route, unbelievable views of the Teton Range are waiting to be admired.
Together with the adventure-rich valley of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park and the surrounding area is bear country. Follow the park's suggestions on avoiding a bear encounter and follow your instincts when it comes to the best hike for you, and Grand Teton National Park can deliver a hiking experience that can satisfy even the deepest wanderlust.
1 Cascade Canyon Trail & Lake Solitude
Beginning from the Jenny Lake Trailhead, Cascade Canyon can be reached by either hiking around Jenny Lake via a two-mile trail or by hopping on the Jenny Lake Ferry that takes hikers across the water every fifteen minutes. Using the ferry saves time and energy, both of which help in hiking up and into the ruggedly beautiful Cascade Canyon. A journey through Cascade Canyon is pleasantly rewarded with the shimmering shores of Lake Solitude, seven miles from where the ferry drops off.
Traveling through Cascade Canyon, every step of the way increases exposure to the steep mountain views. Upon entering the North Fork of Cascade Canyon, hikers are encouraged to look behind them to see an iconic Grand Teton landscape silhouetted by canyon walls. After traveling the seven miles to reach Lake Solitude, visitors may be surprised to see the crowded conditions around the water. There is plenty of room to share at this popular Teton attraction, however, and alongside the mountain surroundings of this glacier-fed lake, a luscious meadow invites a long afternoon of appreciating the alpine environment.
2 Jenny Lake Loop & Inspiration Point
For a moderate hike that can be done in a long morning or afternoon, the 7.6-mile round-trip loop around Jenny Lake gives new perspectives of the Tetons the entire way and is one of the top-rated hiking trails in Jackson Hole. Skirting the shoreline of the massive body of water, the Jenny Lake Loop Trail occasionally climbs into the dense woodland surroundings to expose bigger views. Halfway around the lake, where the Jenny Lake Ferry docks ashore, hikers on the Jenny Lake Loop can take a quick side trip up to Inspiration Point, where the higher elevation provides beautiful views. With an early reservation, after taking the ferry back or completing the loop, hikers can enjoy a night at the Jenny Lake Campground, which among many others serves as one of the best campgrounds in Wyoming.
3 Teton Crest Loop
As the crown jewel of hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, the Teton Crest Loop connects the alpine lakes, high-altitude passes, and breathtaking big mountain scenery that defines the Teton Range. Every step of the Teton Crest Trail involves a deep sense of wonder and awe, and whether it's the shimmer from Lake Solitude or the smoldering sun casting down across the mountain landscapes, it's the type of hike that can change you for the better. Despite the trail's high status in the hiking community, it should come as no surprise that during its short hiking season (mid-July to mid-September), backcountry permits to access this bucket-list hike can be hard to come by.
Hikers can vie for early reservations for the Teton Crest Loop starting on the first Wednesday in January, and for everyone else looking to make this memorable hike, competitive walk-up permits are available on a daily first-come, first-served basis. The permits regulate which one of eleven camping zones hiking parties can stay at throughout their itinerary on the trail. While all camping zones are memorable places to pitch a tent, two that qualify for some of the best campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park include the Death Canyon Shelf and the Lower and Upper Paintbrush Canyons. Depending on the camping zones your permit allows, the Teton Crest Trail varies in length, but every itinerary includes 30-plus miles of Teton Range alpine environment and some of the best backcountry hiking in the nation.
4 Death Canyon Trail
Far from its negative connotations, Death Canyon is an inviting area of Grand Teton National Park that provides many fruitful outlets for exploring. Featuring intimate views of the craggy surroundings, abundant wildlife sightings, and seasonal wildflower bouquets lining the trail, the only thing that you might mourn in Death Canyon are your once-limber legs. Death Canyon is undoubtedly steep, first starting at the White Grass Ranger Station and then climbing up to an overlook of Phelps Lake, where it continues to gain elevation. Trail users have a few destinations they can decide between when exploring Death Canyon, including the Static Peak Divide or the Death Canyon Shelf, and whichever way you go, and however far you travel into Death Canyon, your route is best accomplished with an early start.
5 Paintbrush Canyon Trail & Paintbrush Divide
Beginning from the String Lake Trailhead, Paintbrush Canyon provides a whole pallet of color and nothing short of idyllic mountain surroundings. After circumnavigating String Lake for nearly two miles, hikers proceed into the lower and upper units of Paintbrush Canyon, exposing a nearly surreal alpine environment the entire way. Within the nearly seven miles that span Paintbrush Canyon, areas of seemingly manicured green grass sprout between the massive brown boulders that punctuate the landscape, and the towering peaks of the Teton Range rise brightly against the open sky. Within the Upper Paintbrush Canyon, Holly Lake warrants a side trip, and at the end of Paintbrush Canyon, over eight miles from the trailhead, the Paintbrush Divide provides an alpine experience exploding with color.
6 Hermitage Point Trail
Located near the Colter Bay Village and Visitor Center, the Hermitage Point Trail meanders through a water-strewn environment ultimately leading to the shores of Jackson Lake. Along this ten-mile trail, there are plenty of opportunities for small side treks and views, including Swan Lake and Heron Pond, where among the avian wildlife, sightings of moose, beavers, and bears have also been reported. On clear days, throughout the entire trail, impressive views of Mount Moran and the rest of the Teton Range ring out from behind the wide waters of Jackson Lake. Whether you go the distance to the peninsula that is Hermitage Point, or you get distracted by other points of interest, the Hermitage Point Trail delivers on iconic Teton views the entire way.
7 Phelps Lake Trail
Southwest of the Moose Entrance of Grand Teton National Park, Phelps Lake is a prominent feature of the Death Canyon Trail. Beginning from the White Grass Ranger Station, the Phelps Lake Trail climbs up to the first overlook of the waters, before plunging back down to access the glacial-fed lake. Making its way down to the shoreline, the Phelps Lake Trail is steep enough to be noted as strenuous, which helps keep this natural attraction less crowded than others in the surrounding area. It takes just over four miles of trail to circle Phelps Lake entirely and return to the trailhead, but with alternative routes available, including a trail system that leads to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, the Phelps Lake Trail can easily extend into an all-day adventure. You can also start your hike at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve, but arrive early, as the parking lot here fills up quickly in the peak summer months.
8 Alaska Basin
Accessed from the west side of Grand Teton National Park through Driggs, Idaho, the Alaska Basin contains perhaps some of the grandest of all alpine environments offered by the Teton Range. This eye-catching mountain landscape isn't easily accessed, however, and for those wanting to experience the Alaska Basin, they need to exert some energy to do so. Following an alpine-infused trail for eight miles from the Teton Canyon Campground, the hike into the Alaska Basin is known to be muddy in parts, rocky at others, and contains one infamous section known as the Devil's Stairs. Potential hazards line the entire route into the Alaska Basin, including inclement and fast-moving weather, bears and other wildlife, as well as a serious chance of never wanting to leave once you've made it.
9 Granite Canyon & Marion Lake
As the southernmost canyon to hike through in Grand Teton National Park, Granite Canyon gains elevation to expose hikers to the rich environments of the Teton backcountry. Following along the tributaries and mountain streams that flow into the nearby Snake River, Granite Canyon steadily climbs up through a landscape filled with massive boulders, dense forest, and expanding mountain views. Day hiking the Granite Canyon involves an out-and-back experience, and with an early enough start, Marion Lake, sitting nine miles from the trailhead, is a beautiful sight to see. For hikers looking to get a little edge on being able to reach Marion Lake, the nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort can provide an aerial tram-ride to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, which subtracts decent mileage and sizeable elevation from the equation.
10 Signal Mountain
A long list of geological factors contribute to the Tetons skywards appearance. Located along the Teton fault, the Teton Range isn't surrounded by foothills, and as a relatively young mountain range, erosion has yet to scrape away significant elevation. The result of it all is an impressive landscape, where the Tetons appear like a sharp dagger that penetrates the sky above. While many views of these stark mountain formations can be seen throughout the park, to get the best idea of the scale of these peaks, the Signal Mountain Trail lends some valuable perspective.
Consisting of a 6.8-mile round-trip hike and 850 feet of elevation gain, the Signal Mountain Trail begins near Signal Mountain Lodge on the northeast side of the park. Climbing up the moderate grade of the Signal Mountain Trail immediately exposes hikers to views of Jackson Lake, the Snake River, and the entirety of the Teton Range. The most impressive views await hikers at the top of the trail, at a spot aptly named the Jackson Point Overlook, where the entire Teton Range rings out for your enjoyment.
11 Two Ocean Lake Loop
Located in the northern region of the park and accessed via the Pacific Creek Road, the Two Ocean Lake Loop provides a flat and scenic trail to follow, with possible wildlife sightings the entire way. Herons, swans, and osprey call the habitat of Two Ocean Lake home, and sightings of elk, moose, and grizzly bears are also considered common. The trail makes a full loop around Two Ocean Lake after six miles, and for those looking for more, the nearby Matilda Lake connects trails with Two Ocean, adding up to a variety of ways to enjoy this scenic section of Grand Teton National Park.
12 Taggart Lake
For a shorter hike that delivers immediately on great views of Grand Teton, Taggart Lake is a three-mile round-trip that exposes the mega-monolith the entire way. Beginning at the Taggart Lake Trailhead near the southern Moose Entrance of the park, the trail gradually climbs through a forested environment, eventually arriving at the serene waters of Taggart Lake. For hikers looking for a little more adventure, the trail continues for another mile to the shores of Bradley Lake, where it is even easier to ditch the crowds. However far you go, the Taggart Lake Trail climbs only a moderate level of elevation, making it a very accessible hike that almost every member of the family can enjoy.
More Hiking and Outdoor Opportunities in Wyoming
For more trails to blaze in the Grand Teton vicinity, see our Top-Rated Hiking Trails in Jackson Hole article. More hiking opportunities can be found just north of Grand Teton National Park, and you can read about those in our Best Hiking Trails in Yellowstone National Park piece.
With a surplus of hiking trails throughout the state, Wyoming also has an abundance of great campgrounds to spend the night. To pitch a tent near Grand Teton, our Best Campgrounds near Grand Teton National Park article can show you the most exciting spots. For a Yellowstone, see our Best Campgrounds in Yellowstone National Park piece. And for even more overnight opportunities in the state, read our Best Campgrounds in Wyoming article.
For the anglers out there, our Top-Rated Fly Fishing Destinations in Wyoming article can give you a few good places to drop a line. For a broader look at all there is to do in Wyoming, our Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Wyoming article can keep you entertained throughout every season of the state.
Where to Stay near Grand Teton National Park for Sightseeing
Grand Teton National Park and the adventure-town of Jackson offer numerous great places to spend the night. Spread throughout the town and surrounding Jackson Hole valley, accommodations range from the definition of decadence to dollar-savings digs.
- Luxury Hotels: For the finest stay in the vicinity of Grand Teton, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, located in Teton Village near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, provides babysitting services, spacious rooms, and a mountain landscape to admire from every window. On the north side of town, the Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa is a small luxury hotel that comes through with spa services, a connected restaurant, and relaxing surroundings. Not far from the Rusty Parrot, The Wort Hotel is another reputable luxury hotel in the heart of downtown Jackson, within a historic building. It strives to deliver strict attention to detail when it comes to comfort, style, and class.
- Mid-range Hotels: For the most amenities at the best price, it's recommended to check out the Cowboy Village Resort on the west end of town, featuring spacious rooms and a well-maintained facility, as well as a rustic appeal that adds an extra layer of comfort. Further west, the Wyoming Inn of Jackson Hole provides big windows with every room and a Grand Western Lobby that encourages comfort throughout your stay. Near the north end of town, the Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa at Jackson Hole not only comes with a competitive price, but also features spa services, decadently furnished rooms, and quick access to the national park.
- Budget Hotels: To save your vacation dollars for daily attractions, there are a handful of budget accommodations that won't have you sacrificing on a quality stay. The Super 8 Driggs in Idaho comes at an affordable rate, with clean rooms and quick access to the western slopes of Grand Teton National Park. Within Jackson, both the Parkway Inn and Ranch Inn provide affordable overnight rates and complimentary breakfasts, plus spacious rooms and comfortable beds to grab a good night's sleep.