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Teton Crest Trail

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 5.0 (30) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

An absolutely epic journey through the heart of the Tetons.


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Map Key

39.0

Miles

62.7

KM

Point to Point

10,659' 3,249 m

High

6,399' 1,950 m

Low

8,061' 2,457 m

Up

7,576' 2,309 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

34%

Max Grade (19°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Backcountry permits are required for all overnight trips in Grand Teton. In order to obtain a permit, it's recommended that you apply for one in advance. You can do so from recreation.gov from January 6th to May 15, 2016.

Overview

This route is a National Park classic. It spans much of Grand Teton NP from south to north and is spectacularly positioned in the Teton Range throughout. Along this journey, you'll encounter all ecological zones the park has to offer, as well as its best views. Steel yourself, you're gonna be tired, but your life is about to change for the better.

Need to Know

This route is best done as a shuttle. If completing this route as mapped (south to north), plan on leaving a car at the Leigh Lake trailhead, then starting your journey from the Granite Canyon trailhead.

Description

Starting from the Granite Canyon TH, head west, towards the mountains. This glacier-carved trail spans from Moose Wilson Rd at ~6,400' all the way to ~8,900', and terminates at an intersection with Fox Creek Pass. From the trailhead on the road, head past the Teton Village Trail and enter Granite Canyon proper. From the canyon entrance, the trail ascends at a steady rate, passing South Fork Granite Canyon on the left, and Open Canyon on the right.

Granite Canyon follows Granite Creek all the way up to the beautiful alpine Marion Lake if you take a right on Fox Creek Pass. Many people choose to pitch a tent here, and enjoy a night in the mountains before either returning to their car or continuing along the Teton Crest Trail on Fox Creek Pass to Death Canyon Shelf.

Continuing north you'll pass beautiful Marion Lake, follow the trail as it works its way up a minor ascent (compared to Granite Canyon) and onto an open plain. This is a very scenic section of trail with Housetop Mountain (10,439') to the west and Marion Lake below. Continue hiking along this easy, contouring section of the trail as it skirts its way along the west slopes of the aptly-named Spearhead Peak (10,045'). Eventually, you'll reach an intersection with Death Canyon Trail to the east and Death Canyon Shelf straight ahead (north).

Continue north on Death Canyon Shelf - a trail that is highly exposed to changes in weather, and where water can be difficult to find, especially in September. Starting from the three-way trail intersection, Death Canyon Shelf heads northeast and runs along the bench sitting atop Death Canyon. This trail is very easy to follow as it is a straight shot from Fox Creek Pass to Mount Meek Pass.

From the pass, continue northeast on Teton Crest Trail - North. This trail takes you through one of the most beautiful areas around, and it's not even in the Park! Pass Devil's Staircase Trail on your left and eventually gain the Sheep Steps.

From here, head east to an intersection with Alaska Basin Trail, but prepare to get your feet wet as you ford South Fork Teton Creek and continue west along the contours of the basin. Follow Teton Crest Trail - North as it begins to wind west, avoiding Alaska Basin Trail.

From here you'll make your way to famed Hurricane Pass. Shortly after switchbacking out of the basin you'll reach an intersection with Alaska Basin Shelf - stay left here to stay on Teton Crest Trail - North. Bypass South Teton/Buck Mt. Pass Trail as it appears on your left, and shortly after you'll exit the basin proper.

Head northward until you finally reach Hurricane Pass. Shortly after gaining the pass you'll see Schoolroom Glacier. A glacier with textbook details including: well-defined terminal and lateral moraines, crevasses, a proglacial lake and related features which led to the naming schoolroom. Continue north, past Avalanche Divide, to South Fork Cascade Canyon.

Most of South Fork Cascade Canyon allows backcountry camping with a permit, so this might be a nice place to spend the night. Enjoy the stunning views of Teton Ridge and Table mountain along this hike.

Eventually, you'll reach an intersection with North Fork Cascade Canyon and Cascade Canyon Trail - turn left onto North Fork. The first half of this trail, all the way to Lake Solitude, is quite easy. Finally, after dipping in and out of the woods multiple times, the terrain will open up to views across Lake Solitude.From Lake Solitude, continue on North Fork Cascade Canyon straight up to Paintbrush Divide (10,720') and Paintbrush Canyon trail.

After the awesome Teton views, mash your way down the insane first pitch on Paintbrush Canyon. Eventually the trail reaches an intersection with Holly Lake - turn left to head to the lake. Shortly after your quick dip in Holly Lake you'll turn left onto Paintbrush Canyon. At the end of the Canyon, turn left onto String Lake Trail.

This lake skirting trail will take you the Leigh Lake trailhead!

Shared By:

Tom Robson

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 30 votes

#1

in South

#163

Overall
  5.0 from 30 votes
5 Star
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Recommended Route Rankings

#1

in South

#5

in Wyoming

#163

Overall
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41,431 Since Apr 22, 2015
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Photos

The Teton Peaks
Mar 30, 2020 near Alta, WY
Grand Teton as seen from a meadow on North Fork Cascade Canyon trail.
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Image by the National Park Service (NPS).
Dec 23, 2014 near Moose W…, WY
The Tetons from String Lake
Jan 8, 2015 near Jackson, WY
String Lake - One of the best spots in Grand Teton NP.
Sep 6, 2016 near Alta, WY
The hike back down from Lake Solitude has spectacular views of the Cathedral Group.
Aug 20, 2018 near Alta, WY
So much wildflower diversity!
Aug 19, 2018 near Moose W…, WY

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Check-Ins

Sep 29, 2020
Kelly Wong
Sep 18, 2019
Robert Burch
Sep 12, 2019
Daniel Walker
Tim Mueller, Ben Matthews, Jason Silbernagle. Paintbrush Canyon, out Cascade Canyon. went to pin on my own.
Aug 27, 2019
Angélica Toledo Rios
30mi — 77h 00m
Aug 19, 2019
Bryan Brown
2 nights, 2.5 days, w/ Nick. From Granite pushed ~17 miles to the Alaska Basin on D1. ~11 miles to North Fork on D2, finished after ~11 miles on D3. 40mi
Aug 8, 2019
Andrew Hansen
Jul 13, 2019
Augustin Seremet
Jul 2, 2019
Venkat Vellella