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.
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.
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.
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
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!