Grand Teton National Park is a hiker’s paradise, with big alpine backdrops, glacier-fed waters, and a diverse array of wildlife lining the trails. The park proudly displays some of the most outstanding mountain scenery in the American West, with iconic hikes like the backcountry Teton Crest Trail and various canyons waiting to be explored.
Trails in Grand Teton cater to hikers of all skill levels, and breathtaking views of the Teton Range await at every turn.
Grand Teton National Park, along with the adventure-rich valley of Jackson Hole, is an adventurer’s paradise. The entire region is also densely forested. Follow the park’s recommendations for avoiding bear encounters and bring essential gear, such as bear spray, on your hike.
The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is during the peak of summer (late July and August) when the many high mountain routes are clear of snow. Our list of the best hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park will help you decide where to go.
Cascade Canyon can be reached from the Jenny Lake Trailhead by either hiking around Jenny Lake on a two-mile trail or taking the Jenny Lake Ferry, which runs every 15 minutes. Taking the ferry saves time and energy, which are both required to hike up and into the ruggedly beautiful Cascade Canyon.
The shimmering shores of Lake Solitude, seven miles from where the ferry docks, reward a journey through Cascade Canyon. Every step of the way through Cascade Canyon increases your exposure to the steep mountain views.
Hikers are encouraged to look behind them as they enter the North Fork of Cascade Canyon to see an iconic Grand Teton landscape silhouetted by canyon walls. Water and snacks are recommended for this strenuous 2,300-foot-ascent hike.
Visitors who travel seven miles to Lake Solitude may be surprised by the crowded conditions around the water. However, there is plenty of space to share at this popular Teton attraction. Starting the hike early in the day gives you plenty of time to explore the shoreline and take in the postcard-worthy mountain scenery. A quick dip into Lake Solitude provides a cold rush of excitement if the weather is warm enough.
The Tetons’ skyward appearance is influenced by a variety of geological factors. The Teton Range, which is located along the Teton fault, is not surrounded by foothills, and as a relatively young mountain range, erosion has yet to scrape away significant elevation. The result is an impressive landscape in which the Tetons resemble sharp daggers piercing the sky above.
While there are numerous views of these stark mountain formations throughout the park, the Signal Mountain Trail provides the best perspective on the scale of these peaks.
The Signal Mountain Trail, a 6.8-mile round-trip hike with an elevation gain of 850 feet, begins near Signal Mountain Lodge on the park’s northeast side. Climbing the Signal Mountain Trail’s moderate grade immediately exposes hikers to views of Jackson Lake, the Snake River, and the entire Teton Range. The most spectacular views await hikers at the top of the trail, at the aptly named Jackson Point Overlook, where the entire Teton Range resounds for your enjoyment.
The Teton Crest Loop is the crown jewel of hiking trails in Grand Teton National Park, connecting the alpine lakes, high-altitude passes, and breathtaking big mountain scenery that define 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.
Given the trail’s popularity among hikers, it’s no surprise that backcountry permits to access this bucket-list hike are difficult to come by during its short hiking season (mid-July to mid-September). Beginning on the first Wednesday of January, hikers can compete for early reservations for the Teton Crest Loop. For those who want to make this memorable hike, competitive walk-up permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis on a daily basis.
The permits govern which of the trail’s eleven camping areas hikers can stay in during their journey.
While all camping areas are memorable places to pitch a tent, the Death Canyon Shelf, as well as the Lower and Upper Paintbrush Canyons, are particularly lovely. The length of the Teton Crest Trail varies depending on the camping zones permitted by your permit, but every itinerary includes 30-plus miles of Teton Range alpine environment and some of the best backcountry hiking in the country.
The Alaska Basin, accessible from the west side of Grand Teton National Park via Driggs, Idaho, contains some of the most spectacular alpine environments offered by the Teton Range. This stunning mountain landscape, however, is not easily accessible, and those who want to experience the Alaska Basin must exert some effort to do so.
The hike into the Alaska Basin is eight miles long and follows an alpine-infused trail from the Teton Canyon Campground. It is known to be muddy in places, rocky in others, and contains one infamous section known as the Devil’s Stairs.
Hikers gain over 2,600 feet in elevation to reach the Alaska Basin, and potential hazards dot the entire route. Some of the dangers include inclement and fast-moving weather, bears and other wildlife, and the serious possibility of never wanting to leave once you’ve arrived. The hike is best done in late July and August when the trail is mostly free of snow.
Granite Canyon, the southernmost canyon to hike in Grand Teton National Park, gains elevation to expose hikers to the diverse environments of the Teton backcountry.
Granite Canyon climbs steadily up through a landscape filled with massive boulders, dense forest, and expansive mountain views, following the tributaries and mountain streams that flow into the nearby Snake River. The Granite Canyon is an out-and-back hike, and if you start early enough, Marion Lake, which is nine miles from the trailhead, is a beautiful sight to see.
It’s a grueling 3,000-plus foot elevation gain to get to Marion Lake. For hikers looking to gain an advantage in reaching Marion Lake, the nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort offers an aerial tram ride to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, which removes a significant amount of mileage and elevation from the equation. It’s a workout in either case, but with very few people to share Marion Lake with, the reward is a gorgeous subalpine lake all to yourself.
Death Canyon, far from its negative connotations, is a charming area of Grand Teton National Park. It offers close-up views of the craggy surroundings, plenty of wildlife sightings, and seasonal wildflowers lining the trail.
In Death Canyon, the only thing worth mourning is once-limber legs. Death Canyon is undeniably steep, ascending over 2,000 feet in the four miles to the Static Peak Divide junction.
The trail begins at the White Grass Ranger Station and ends one mile later at an overlook of Phelps Lake. The elevation gains continue from here, and trail users have several options for destinations when exploring Death Canyon. The Static Peak Junction, four miles up the trail, is a good place to turn around. The junction leads to either the Static Peak Divide or the Death Canyon Shelf for those who get an early start and strong legs.
Taggart Lake is a three-mile round-trip hike that exposes the mega-monoliths the entire way for a shorter hike that delivers immediate great views of Grand Teton.
Beginning at the Taggart Lake Trailhead near the park’s southern Moose Entrance, the trail gradually ascends through a forested environment before arriving at the tranquil waters of Taggart Lake. The trail is a nice wide path with minimal elevation gain the entire way.
The trail continues for another mile to the shores of Bradley Lake for hikers looking for a little more adventure. Continuing to Bradley Lake is the best way to avoid some of the area’s crowds. The Taggart Lake Trail climbs only a moderate level of elevation no matter how far you go, making it a very accessible hike that almost every member of the family can enjoy.
Phelps Lake, located southwest of the Moose Entrance to Grand Teton National Park, is a prominent feature of the Death Canyon Trail. The Phelps Lake Trail begins at the White Grass Ranger Station and climbs to an overlook of the water before plunging back down to access the glacial-fed lake. The Phelps Lake Trail, which leads down to the shoreline, is steep enough to be considered strenuous, which helps keep this natural attraction less crowded than others in the area.
It takes just over four miles of trail to complete a full circle of Phelps Lake and return to the trailhead. The Phelps Lake Trail can easily be extended into an all-day adventure with alternative routes available, including a trail system that leads to the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve.
You can also begin your hike at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve but get there early because the parking lot here fills up quickly during the summer months.
Paintbrush Canyon, which begins at the String Lake Trailhead, offers a kaleidoscope of color and nothing short of idyllic mountain scenery. Hikers continue into the lower and upper units of Paintbrush Canyon after circumnavigating String Lake for nearly two miles, exposing a nearly surreal alpine environment the entire way.
Paintbrush Canyon spans nearly seven miles, with areas of seemingly manicured green grass sprouting between the massive brown boulders that punctuate the landscape.
The Teton Range’s towering peaks rise brightly against the open sky in Paintbrush Canyon as well.
Paintbrush Canyon, like much of the hiking in Grand Teton, is a steep hike that tests the legs with elevation gained at every step of the trail.
Holly Lake within Upper Paintbrush Canyon is worth a side trip, and the Paintbrush Divide at the end of Paintbrush Canyon, over eight miles from the trailhead, offers an alpine experience exploding with color.
The Hermitage Point Trail, located near the Colter Bay Village and Visitor Center, meanders through a water-strewn environment before reaching the shores of Jackson Lake. There are numerous opportunities for small side trips and views along this ten-mile trail, including Swan Lake and Heron Pond. Sightings of moose, beavers, and bears have been reported in addition to the avian wildlife on display.
The trail gains very little elevation throughout, and on clear days, views of Mount Moran and the rest of the Teton Range can be seen beyond Jackson Lake’s wide waters. Whether you travel the distance to Hermitage Point or are distracted by other points of interest, the Hermitage Point Trail provides iconic Teton views the entire way.