Death Canyon Trail

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Distance9.4mi
Elevation Gain6,068ft
Trailhead Elevation6,773ft
Top9,565ft
Elevation Min/Max6694/9565ft
Elevation Start/End6773/6773ft

Death Canyon Trail

Death Canyon Trail is a hiking trail in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It is within Grand Teton National Park. It is 9.4 miles long and begins at 6,773 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 19.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 6,068 feet. The Death Canyon Trailhead information board and Death Canyon Parking and another parking are near the trailhead. There are also restrooms. The Horse Camp, Camp site, Horse Camp, and Group Camp sites and the Phelps Lake Overlook viewpoint can be seen along the trail. The trail ends near the Fox Creek Pass (elevation 9,560 feet) information guidepost. This trail connects with the following: Teton Crest Trail and Buck Mountain Pass Trail.

Death Canyon Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The hike up Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass is the longest in this book. It requires much physical stamina and an early departure (or plan the hike as an overnight trek). The 9,560-foot Fox Creek Pass is at the boundary of Grand Teton National Park and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the crest of the Teton Range, where the trail joins the Teton Crest Trail. The trail steadily climbs up Death Canyon to the headwaters of the creek and Fox Creek Pass.

The views throughout the canyon and from atop the pass are fantastic. As the trail nears the pass, it follows below the expansive Death Canyon Shelf at the head of the canyon (back cover photo). The rock shelf formation forms a towering wall along the upper canyon, surrounded by jagged 1 0,000-foot peaks. The shelf is an impressive limestone wall with thick horizontal stripes that stretches for three miles, from Fox Creek Pass to Mount Meek."

"Death Canyon is a magnificent vertical-walled canyon with some of the oldest rock in the Teton Range, dating back 2.5 billion years. The canyon is a wide, glacier-carved canyon with a broad floor, a gorgeous cascading creek, and jagged mountain peaks. Death Canyon Creek flows more than 2,000 feet down the canyon, from just below Fox Creek Pass into Phelps Lake."

"The 1 0,790-foot Static Peak Divide, near the national park boundary, is a high-alpine divide that lies between Death Canyon and Avalanche Canyon. This hike climbs up Death Canyon to the patrol cabin (Hike 6), then veers north to Static Peak Divide on the Alaska Basin Trail.

Nestled beneath the sheer, jagged cliffs of the Teton Range, the strenuous Alaska Basin Trail gains 3,000 feet in four miles up to the divide. From the divide are sweeping panoramic vistas of Jackson Hole, the Snake River, and the Gros Ventre Range. Beyond the divide, the trail drops into Alaska Basin in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness."

"A multi-day backpacking trip through the canyons of the southern section of the park"

"Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass is the longest hike in this book. It requires having much stamina and leaving early, or planning the hike as an overnight trek. The 9,560-foot pass is at the boundary of Grand Teton National Park and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the crest of the Teton Range. The trail climbs up Death Canyon to Fox Creek Pass and the expansive Death Canyon Shelf at the head of the canyon. Death Canyon Shelf forms a towering wall on the north side of the upper canyon, surrounded by jagged 10,000-foot peaks. The shelf is an impressive limestone wall with thick horizontal stripes that stretches three miles between Fox Creek Pass and Mount Meek."

"Death Canyon is a magnificent vertical-walled canyon with some of the oldest rock in the Teton Range, dating back 2.5 billion years. The canyon is a wide, U-shaped, glacier-carved canyon with a broad floor, a gorgeous cascading creek, and jagged mountain peaks. Death Canyon Creek flows more than 2,000 feet down the canyon, from just below Fox Creek Pass, into Phelps Lake. The Death Canyon patrol cabin is a small log structure built in the 1930s. It is occupied by crews patrolling and maintaining the trails. This hike climbs through the narrow rock portals at the mouth of the canyon and traverses the north flank of the canyon to the patrol cabin."

"The 10,790-foot Static Peak Divide, near the national park boundary, sits between Death Canyon and Avalanche Canyon. This hike climbs up Death Canyon to the patrol cabin, then veers north to Static Peak Divide on the Alaska Basin Trail. Nestled beneath the sheer, jagged cliffs of the Teton Range, the strenuous Alaska Basin Trail gains 3,000 feet in four miles. From the divide are sweeping panoramic vistas of Jackson Hole, the Snake River, and the Gros Ventre Range. Beyond the divide, the trail drops into Alaska Basin in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness."

Death Canyon Trail Reviews

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8/5/2018
The road to the trailhead is in kind of crazy shape so it is smart to take it slowly. We forgot about the bumpy ride once we hit the trail. Amazing mountain, lake, and canyon sights. The beginning of the hike was not strenuous, just a steady uphill to the beautiful view of Phelps Lake. We saw tons of marmots, wildflowers, and waterfalls.
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7/1/2012
The plan sounded easy - Phleps Lake through Open Canyon to Mt. Hunt Divide to Marion Lake through Fox Creek Pass down to Death Canyon and out at Phelps Lake again. In reality, the first 8 miles to the top of Mt. Hunt Divide is strenous enough even for a park ranger to call it "an ambisious hike". Now add 40lbs. pack on your back and a first day in elevation over 5,000 feet and you can imagine our struggle. However, the views and the vastness of the mountains, the meadows, and the valleys vere absolutely unsuppressed and one of a kind. There was snow on trails but not enough to hinder our pleasant experience. Death Canyon is a day hike destination, so you will encounter more traffic there, while Phelps Lake is almost like a mall on a rainy day, with the coresponding foot traffic.
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7/9/2009
Gorgeous hike. It is a good climb up to the mouth of the canyon and again at the end as you head into the pass, but most of the trail through the canyon is very moderate and scenic. I did this hike for the wildflowers, but I think it was too early in the year for them to be in full bloom. Even without the flowers I was expecting, this hike was certainly worth the effort. Keep an eye out for moose in the first part of the canyon - I saw two.
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8/26/2008
This is a short yet very isolated trail. Since it is not maintained, certain parts of it are hard to follow which gives it more character. It is a flat trek but the forrest is incredible. There is a fantastic pine tree canopy keeping you out of the sun and the trees are spaced out far enough so that you can see deep into the forrest. An absolutely awesome site. Leigh Lake is so placid that an almost erie feeling hangs in the air. I recommend camping at Leigh Lake site #13. It is on a small beach on the lake and you can dip your feet in the cold water and fish. The morning brings an incredible sunrise across the lake.
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8/13/2007
Beautiful trail. It's a very good trail esspically the Death Canyon part. I would reccomend it to any one. We actually went from Fox Creek, Death Canyon,to Hurrican Pass and on to String Lake. It was about 30 miles. We did it in 10 hrs.
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7/1/2007
Very nice and easy. Beautiful scenery. My brother and I finished out Paintbrush, by hiking around Leigh Lake and also my parents in there late 50s enjoyed this a lot.
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8/25/2006
All in all, a very satisfying hike. The hike up to the Phelps overlook is dull, just a 500 ft climb to a high point. The overlook is a nice rest, but disappointment sets in when you realize that you have to drop down another 400 ft to towards the lake before starting the 1400 ft climb into the canyon. The one stretch rises about 1200 ft in a mile, and can be quite grueling under the weight of a full pack and the hot sun. (Bring lots of water.) But stop for a rest often and enjoy the spectacular view! The vertical canyon walls are awesome, like giant pillars of a gate. At about 2.75 miles in, you reach a spot adjacent to the cascade that you have been hearing for an hour. From that point on, the trip becomes worth the effort. Once reaching the canyon floor, the trail levels out to almost flat for the next several miles. The scenery is majestic: calm stream, clear pools, and explosion of wildflowers, intermittent shade, and the magnificent canyon walls. We continued up the canyon for about another 2 miles just to see the impressive Death Canyon Shelf. All in all, a memorable full day hike.
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7/30/2006
Beautiful summer hike. Vast fields of wildflowers in the canyon from about mile six on to the head. In my experience, it is only a little work for a lot of beauty. You could stop in the flower fields and call it a day and it will have been well worth the trip. If you have a lot of stamina, then hike out on the shelf - trail is fairly flat beyon the pass and the views are spectacular for a "simple hike." Remember that you loose about 600 feet going from Phelps lake lookout down to the lake before you head back up the canyon falls to the mouth. This 600 feet is a bit of a struggle when one is tired at the end of a 20 mile hike!
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8/8/2005
This was a very easy hike into the campsite. We backpacked in in early August and the weather and views were great. Leigh Lake is stunning, crystal clear with sweet view of the Tetons, sandy bottom with few rocks here and there, which are easy to stub your toe on if your swimming at night like we did. Bearpaw Lake is a short hike away from Leigh lake, and a little further on is Trapper Lake. They make nice day hikes from Leigh Lake, then you can come back and swim in a great lake with the Tetons as your backdrop, quite surreal.
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1/7/2005
Just getting over a cold when I did this. Not enough lung capacity to enjoy myself. Coughed the whole way up.
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Death Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Grand Teton National Park
Nearby City
Grand Teton National Park
Parks
Bridger Teton National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS: Grand Teton • Adventure Maps: Jackson Hole
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018