The Grand Teton loop

Moose, Wyoming 83012

The Grand Teton loop

The Grand Teton loop Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"An epic backpacking adventure around the heart of Grand Teton National Park. Take the very heavily used trail from the corral under the highway underpass. Large trail riding groups leave regularly from here, so plan on seeing lots of horses and being careful where you step.

The trail immediately goes under the highway underpass, and just past it you reach a trail junction. If you take the loop option, you’ll return to this junction. Go right (east), and hike another 0.4 mile through open country to the Christian Pond Overlook. Spend some time reading the interpretive signs and studying the swans and other waterfowl on Christian Pond before retracing your steps to Jackson Lake Lodge."

More The Grand Teton loop Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Backpacking Wyoming (Wilderness Press)
Doug Lorain
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"Although equally dramatic in either direction, the spacing of campsites makes a counterclockwise circuit preferable, so begin by walking 0.4 mile back north along the gravel entrance road, and then turning left onto the unsigned Moose Ponds Trail just before the road crosses a trickling creek."

The Grand Teton loop Trip Reports

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What an incredible opportunity to visit the backcountry of the incredible Grand Teton National Park. It’s difficult to put into words just how spectacular the scenery is. Be prepared for incredible scenery, wildly varying terrain, and sudden changes in temperature. I hope to have an opportunity to hike and camp in this area multiple times. I’d at least like to visit in every season other than the peak of winter (this Louisiana girl can’t handle that kind of cold!).
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We did part of this loop and part of the Paintbrush Canyon / Cascade Canyon loop in a 5-day trip. We started at the Leigh Lake trailhead and went up through Paintbrush Canyon, over the divide, down the North Fork Cascade Canyon, into South Fork Cascade Canyon up to Avalanche Divide, then back down and out through the Cascade Canyon past Hidden Falls.

This trip was amazing. Everytime I saw something, I would think, it can't get any better. It just kept getting better and better. My favorite part has to be coming over Paintbrush Divide and looking down upon Lake Solitude. The view was a great reward for the tough climb up. Additionally, the campsite, about 1 to 1.5 miles below Lake Solitude, was phenomenal. We were in a dual campsite, but had the better of the two. We were adjacent to the creek and were able to set up the eating area across the creek. We had a group of wildflowers between the rock we were on and the creek, which gave a beautiful table setting. The colors in the North Fork Cascade Canyon were stunning. I've never seen views like it. Unbelievable Yellows, Reds, Greens and Blues. Amazing.

We timed this trip perfectly, as the wildflowers were popping, the temps were perfect and the crowds were non-existent. Once we left the day hiking areas, we saw maybe 10 people in the 5-days we were there.

We did, however, get a bit of snow on our last night there. We were camped at about 9,000 feet in the South Fork Cascade Canyon. It was a delight to wake up with about 3 inches of snow on the ground. We felt like we saw it all.

I highly recommend this area, and doing the route we chose, we felt like we got to see the highlights and had plenty of time for relaxing and exploring.

We left Hurricane Pass, the Alaska Basin, Static Peak and Phelps Lake for another trip. Looking forward to that.
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Did the loop in 2006 with my daughter out of Jenny Lake. It was tough, exhausting and fantastic. We repeated in 2007 with my son who missed the previous trip due to an injury. I could do this trip every year. I hope to do it again.
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I'm a huge supporter of the Leave-No-Trace ideologies, and a strict adherant to actions that preserve and protect our wilderness areas. Having hiked 22 states in the US, I've seen all likes and kinds of trails - and some in better condition than others - but being from Wyoming, I decided it finally time to take in the splendor of the Tetons.

We took a 5 day backcountry permit (booked well in advance) and embarked from the Jenny Lake Trailhead for the circumnavigation. We hiked into Cascade Canyon the first day (following the Ferry ride across Jenny Lake), took day 2 over Hurricane Pass to the Alaska Basin (and Basin Lakes), day 3 over Static Peak Pass into Death Canyon, day 4 down to Phelps, and the marathon day 5 back to Lupine Meadows.

The scenery was amazing - as close as one can get to hiking around historical landmarks. But, as beautiful as it was, I was disgusted with the damage to the area.

We spent 3 hours after hiking one day cleaning up human waste and waste paper - - - found tampons and applicators on the trail - - - and about 100 nutrition bar wrappers along the journey. I have never been more dissapointed in the management of an area, or the respect for nature by my fellow hikers as I was in GTNP.

The hike is a beautiful one - but go prepared for dissapointment.

And if you do go - Leave no Trace!

Scott Hunter
President, Pingora Pack Company
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If solitude is your goal you will be sorely disappointed on the initial five miles of Cascade Canyon. Until we approached the Forks of North and South Cascade Canyon we were nearly constantly in the company of our fellow man - in droves! None-the-less, the scenery was a beautiful mix of cascades, waterfalls and wildflowers. (I never got to see Hidden Falls because it was hidden behind and impenetrable wall of people!) However, the rest of the smaller and less accessible falls were awesome. We camped in the middle of the South Fork of Cascade Canyon in a canyon with sheer walls to SE and NW and the constant roar of a huge cascade. Always within reasonable walk of a water source. Saw a black bear who crossed the trail no more than 20 yards in front of my daughter and behaved just the way a wild bear should....he took off quickly. Several moose including a cow with calf and middle-aged bull graced the upper reaches of canyon willow flats. By the time we approached Hurricane Pass we were worn down but not out. The foreboding switchbacks up the push to the pass were suprisingly well-graded and less strenuous than they appear. The views of the back (west) of the Tetons and Alaska Basin are well worth the price of admission! The Death Shelf has an "other-worldly" feeling to it with a lot of good bouldering and exploring throughout but dry. Pack plenty of water! Death Canyon also was dry relative to Cascade and overgrown and rocky the whole way. Great views at Static Peak! Phelps Lake area had a lot of mosquitos and deer flies-take the repellant!
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Absolutely beautiful! We spent 3 days here, all with perfect weather. We did a modified version of this loop – skipping the final 10 miles from Death Canyon TH back to Jenny Lake and hitched back to Jenny. We spent 2 days hiking the 24.7 ml (8.4 the 1st day) and 1 climbing the west side of S. Teton from the end of Avalanche trail. The best campsites (in my opinion) on this loop are at the southern end of the South Fork Cascade area (specifically the last 4 sites just before Avalanche junction) and around Sunset lake – everywhere else is just too buggy (my only complaint of the trip; mosquitoes and biting flies) this time of year. The difficulty rating is fairly accurate – this loop is not for the casual hiker - but the entire loop can be done well within the suggested four days (3 w/o stopping, but why bother). The 7.5 ml between Avalanche and Static will gain/lose 3K+ ft. - the 4 mls between Static and the patrol cabin you'll lose almost 4K. If at all possible, hike Death Canyon in the early morning or late afternoon otherwise the summer sun will bake you... All in all it's an amazing trip! I'd do it 100x over!!!!
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We started out early in hopes of seeing moose, so we only encountered one hiker and one group (of four people) on horseback. This made for a very quiet hike. We saw plenty of waterfowl on the pond, but the trail never came close to the shore. Signs warned us not to approach the pond because of nesting swans. Still there was plenty to be seen using binoculars. We also saw a mule deer with a large rack. At a couple points, there were some nice views of the Tetons shrouded in morning mist. Toward the end, we saw plenty of moose habitat, but no moose. We also saw a beaver pond with a lodge in the middle, but no beaver. Overall, it was ok, but would be better if you signed up at the lodge nearby to ride it on horseback with a group.

The Grand Teton loop Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
Late July through mid-Sept
Earthwalk Press Grand Teton map; National Park Service handout map
Local Maps