“An arduous, remote journey through the Grand Teton's backwoods.”
— Tom Robson
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
If you're looking to get away from the Jenny Lake
crowds, this adventure is a great alternative. Generally completed as a multi-day camping trip, the Moose Basin trip is about as remote as Grand Teton gets.
Bring a lot of water as it can be tough to find later in the season.
Need to Know
Permits are required for all overnight backcountry stays in the park and parkway. To
minimize the impact on park resources, backcountry permits are limited. One-third of the
backcountry campsites and all of the group sites may be reserved in advance. The remaining sites are filled on a first-come, first-served basis at park permit offices no more than one day before the trip begins. Plan alternative routes based on availability.
$25 per walk-in permit.
$35 per advance reservation. This fee covers the reservation and permit
See this site
for campsite reservations.
Glade Creek Trail
begins directly south of the Glade Creek parking area in a heavily burned zone. The Huck Fire moved through this area in 1988, the year of the huge fires in the Greater Yellowstone area. Tall, dead trunks point skyward, while ones that have already fallen lay haphazardly all around. Watch and listen in this area for falling trees; even a slight breeze can topple these long dead tree trunks.
After less than a quarter mile, the scenery changes into a mixed conifer forest. The forest is alive with the sounds of nature: birds chirping, small animals rustling in the undergrowth, and wind in the trees. The trail then begins to dip down into the Glade Creek drainage and the vegetation starts to thicken. Even late in the season, wildflowers are abundant in this area.
At approximately 1.5 miles the trail crosses Glade Creek on a small footbridge. Beyond the bridge there are some small streams that are easily stepped over by mid-July, but you might get your feet wet earlier in the season. From here, the trail leads through more mixed forest and then opens up into a large meadow where the Snake River widens to become Jackson Lake. Osprey, eagles, sandhill cranes, and other birds are easy to spot in this area.
Continue this journey beyond the Grand Teton National Park boundary, and snake your way along the Jackson Lake shoreline. From here you'll bypass Berry Creek
trail on your right, and a Patrol Cabin just near an intersection with Owl Peak Trail
and Webb Canyon Trail
. Stay left to enter Webb Canyon Trail
The trail quickly fords Berry Creek (sorry, no bridge here) and heads west, in classic, glacially scoured fashion. The trail follows Moose Creek heading west and after a few miles, is flanked by Owl Peak (10,593') and Elk Mountain (10,720') to the north, and Ranger Peak (11,332') to the south.
The trail stays close to the creek most of the way, and Moose Creek is quite impressive as it plummets out of this alpine territory. The creek's constant rock smashing and mud scouring provides an audible backdrop for your jaw-dropping surroundings. This might even make you forget you're climbing such a big mountain!
After some tree-ensconced easy climbing, the canyon pops out of the trees, turns north, and switchbacks very steeply to a gully - this area is called Moose Basin. You can camp anywhere in Moose Basin, and no matter where you decide to rest your head, it will undoubtedly be a memorable experience.
After working your way through Moose Basin, gain the aforementioned gully as the trail continues westward, switchbacking once more to the top of Moose Basin Divide. Along the way you'll be navigating from cairn to cairn, and passing awesome wildflower carpeting for the duration.
Almost a mirror image to Webb Canyon Trail
, Owl Peak Trail
drops sharply towards Owl Creek and onto a bench-cut trail that contours past whitebark pine. Owl Creek Trail drops again after this bench and becomes an open valley that gently descends past some great campsites. Additionally, you'll cross two streams (Owl Creek and Berry Creek) without the aid of footbridges, so prepare to get your feet wet!
Once you reach the intersection with the Berry-Owl Cutoff
, go right (east) and cross Berry Creek before it joins with Owl Creek. From here, the trail winds its way above the waterway and finally drops down to the intersection with Glade Creek Trail
Turn left on Glade Creek Trail
and head back the way you came at the start of the trip!
Flora & Fauna
The aquatic habitats along Jackson Lake and its adjacent forests, marshes and meadows fulfill the needs of many forms of wildlife. Diverse and abundant vegetation offers excellent food and cover. Look for moose, river otters, beavers, muskrats, coyotes and mule deer.
Between the crags of the Tetons, ice age glaciers carved deep canyons. Today, the canyons contain dense conifer forests and open meadows of wildflowers. As elevation increases, wildflowers abound while trees become stunted and eventually shrub-like.â€œKrummholzâ€ (German for â€œcrookedwoodâ€) plants are dwarfed forms that are treelike at lower elevations.
From treeline to valley floor, forests provide cover and food for many mammal species. Look for elk, mule deer, martens, red squirrels, black bears and snowshoe hares. Moose are a common sighting near the creeks that line these beautiful canyons.