Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park: Top Alpine Trails

With its glistening lakes, rugged mountains, and abundant hiking trails, Grand Teton is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. Explore the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park for your upcoming trip.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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If you’re planning a hiking trip to Grand Teton National Park then knowing where to start can be a problem! With exceptional views of the Teton Range and plenty of alpine lakes to discover, there’s something for everyone, however, figuring out which hikes belong on your to-do list for your next visit can be a challenge!

The good news is that we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll walk you through our list of the 12 best hikes in Grand Teton so you can make the most of your time in the park, one of the crown jewels of the US National Park System.

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What Are The Best Grand Teton Trails?

With much effort and debate, we have whittled down our favorite hikes in Grand Teton to the following twelve.

  1. Teton Crest Trail
  2. Phelps Lake Trail
  3. Cascade Canyon Trail & Lake Solitude
  4. Lakeshore Trail
  5. Jenny Lake Loop & Inspiration Point
  6. Death Canyon Trail to Patrol Cabin and Phelps Lake Overlook
  7. Taggart Lake
  8. Paintbrush Canyon Trail
  9. Granite Canyon & Marion Lake Trail
  10. Leigh & String Lakes
  11. Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point
  12. Static Peak Divide
Teton Crest Trail

1. Teton Crest Trail

The park’s premier backpacking trip, the Teton Crest Trail is a classic choice for the more adventurous. Traveling from south to north through the heart of the Tetons, this journey provides a chance to experience everything that Grand Teton National Park offers. 

After you leave the trailhead on the Teton Crest Trail, you’ll pass by a whole slew of famous destinations, such as Lake Solitude and Hurricane Pass. That makes this hike a solid choice for folks who only have a few days in Grand Teton National Park. 

But, do keep in mind that snow can linger at the higher elevations until mid-summer, which can make for slow going on the trail.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that you’ll need permits to hike this trail. So, be sure to request one ahead of time. Also, while you can do this as an out-and-back, the vast majority of folks arrange a shuttle to transport them from one trailhead to the other.

  • Trail type: Shuttle
  • Length: 40 miles (8,061ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Granite Canyon Trailhead on Route 390 or Leigh Lake Trailhead near String Lake
Phelps Lake Trail

2. Phelps Lake Trail

A popular day hike in Grand Teton National Park, the Phelps Lake Trail offers a chance to see one of the most serene alpine lakes in the park.

This hike starts off at a trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road in the nearby Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve next to the preserve’s visitor center. After departing from the road, you’ll eventually enter the national park and journey through a gorgeous forest until you reach the lake itself.

Once at Phelps Lake, you can sit back, relax, and take in the views of rugged Prospectors Mountain, which towers over the landscape. 

However, if you have the time, it’s worth making the side trip out to the nearby Phelps Lake Overlook for even better vistas of the area.

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 7.2 miles (475ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Access: Trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road in the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve
Cascade Canyon Trail & Lake Solitude

3. Cascade Canyon Trail & Lake Solitude

Arguably one of the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park, the journey to Cascade Canyon and Lake Solitude offers numerous spectacular views for all to enjoy.

To access this hike, you’ll either need to take a boat across Jenny Lake or hike around the lake to reach the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. From here, this 14.7-mile round-trip trek will take you through rugged terrain in the gorgeous Cascade Canyon.

Eventually, the trail climbs up to Alaska Basin, where even more stunning vistas await. Then, you’ll continue onward to both Lake Solitude and Paintbrush Canyon where flowering lupine meadows abound during the summer months.

After quite a bit of climbing, you’ll arrive at Lake Solitude, where you can grab a seat and enjoy a picnic as a reward for your efforts. Plus, on the way back down to the trailhead, you even get fantastic views of Mt Owen and Teewinot. What’s not to love?

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 14.7 miles (2,982ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Cascade Canyon Trailhead on the shore of Jenny Lake
Lakeshore Trail
Boats in Colter Bay

4. Lakeshore Trail

A family-friendly adventure, the trip around the Lakeshore Trail is a solid choice for hikers of all experience levels.

Starting from the Colter Bay Visitor Center Trailhead, the Lakeshore Trail charts a casual course around Colter Bay. The path has minimal elevation gain, yet truly amazing views, so it’s one of the nicest beginner-friendly outings throughout the park.

Along the way, this hike offers a chance to see a few of the park’s most famous peaks. This includes views of Mount Moran, Bivouac Peak, and even the Grand Teton itself. 

Plus, if you’re lucky, you might even get a chance to see some black bears, which are known to wander around Colter Bay. Sunrise is actually the best time to hang out at the bay, so be sure to get up early on the morning of your hike to avoid missing out! Oh, and if you have plenty of gas in the tank after this hike, you’ll be perfectly placed to take on the hike out to Hermitage Point.

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 2 miles (150ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Colter Bay Visitor Center Trailhead in Colter Bay Village
Jenny Lake Loop & Inspiration Point

5. Jenny Lake Loop & Inspiration Point

Hiking the Jenny Lake Loop and Inspiration Point trail will let you experience some of Grand Teton National Park’s most iconic views.

For this hike, you’ll start off from the parking lot at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. You can hike this loop in either direction, but most people complete the journey by going counter-clockwise.

After setting off on your hike, you’ll make your way up and down a few rolling hills, though the overall elevation gain is quite minimal. Along the way, you’ll get to see some fantastic vistas of Mount Moran, Mount Owen, Teewinot Mountain, and Cascade Canyon.

The trail then meanders its way toward String Lake, which you can visit on a side trip if you have some spare time. Alternatively, you can continue onward until you reach the junction for the path that leads to Inspiration Point—one of the most picturesque overlooks in Grand Teton National Park.

Do keep in mind, however, that the hike to Inspiration Point does involve traversing some exposed terrain. As such, it’s not ideal for folks who aren’t steady on their feet.

That being said, if you’d prefer a bit of a shorter hike, you can always take the boat across Jenny Lake instead of hiking the full loop. Doing so cuts the trip to Inspiration point down to just 2.2 miles round-trip, making it a superb quick jaunt in the mountains.

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 9.9 miles (725ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Access: Jenny Lake Trailhead near the Jenny Lake Visitor Center
Death Canyon Trail To Patrol Cabin And Phelps Lake Overlook
Alpine meadow along the Death Canyon Trail

6. Death Canyon Trail to Patrol Cabin and Phelps Lake Overlook

From the Death Canyon Trailhead, you can explore numerous trekking opportunities, including the exhilarating yet challenging day hike to the old Patrol Cabin and the Phelps Lake Overlook. Despite its ominous name, Death Canyon is one of Grand Teton National Park’s top hiking destinations.

After leaving the parking lot at the trailhead behind, this path climbs up a moderate slope until you reach the gorgeous Phelps Lake Overlook. Once you catch your breath while gazing out over the lake, you’ll continue onward to the floor of Death Canyon.

Inside Death Canyon, you’ll begin climbing steadily as views of both Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort rise up behind you. Eventually, you’ll make it to the head of the canyon, where black bears and moose are common sights (don’t forget your bear spray!).

The head of the canyon is also home to the historic Death Canyon Patrol Cabin, which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. While the cabin is no longer in use, it is a historic landmark that’s well worth checking out.

Plus, if you still have some energy left after your hike to the cabin, you can also continue onward on the Alaska Basin Trail. Doing so provides even better views of the canyon itself and of the surrounding Teton Range.

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 7.9 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Death Canyon Trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road (4WD recommended)
Taggart Lake

7. Taggart Lake

Providing stunning views of the Grand Teton, the journey to Taggart Lake is a short and enjoyable adventure suitable for the whole family.

This easy-to-moderate hike starts at the aptly named Taggart Lake parking area and follows a mellow, mostly gravel path through the woods. After about 1.1 miles of walking, you’ll also come across the junction for the Bradley Lake Trail, which makes for an excellent side trip if you have the time.

Otherwise, you can continue down your current path, which will bring you to Taggart Lake. Here, you can spot the main crest of the Tetons in the distance and relax for a short picnic before heading back to Teton Village. 

Or, if you’re feeling particularly brave, you can even go for a swim in the lake to cool off during the summer months. But, be warned—the water is cold!

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 3.3 miles (300ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Access: Taggart Lake parking area on Teton Park Road
Paintbrush Canyon Trail

8. Paintbrush Canyon Trail

Another outstanding hike in the Cascade Canyon region, the journey to Paintbrush Canyon is a favorite among hikers.

Departing from either the Leigh Lake or String Lake trailhead you’ll hike along the shores of String Lake, first meandering through the forest. After a few miles of rolling terrain, the trail climbs steadily upward toward the mouth of Paintbrush Canyon.

Once you cross Paintbrush Canyon Creek, you’ll make your way to the beautiful Holly Lake. Catch your breath here and then continue onward to the top of Paintbrush Divide. At the crest of Paintbrush Divide, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of the Tetons, the Gros Ventre Range, and nearby Jackson Lake.

Beyond the divide, you’ll begin your downhill journey to Lake Solitude. From here, you’ll continue your loop into Cascade Canyon, where the 360-degree views continue. Or, if you’d like a shorter trip, you can always turn back after cresting Paintbrush Divide, which is a worthy destination in its own right.

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 19.7 miles (3,975ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Leigh Lake Trailhead
Granite Canyon & Marion Lake Trail
Photo by Kelly DeLay / CC BY 2.0

9. Granite Canyon & Marion Lake Trail

Suitable for both ambitious day hikers and backpackers, the trail to Marion Lake and Granite Canyon is one you won’t want to miss.

For this trail, you actually have a number of access options. Some folks choose to take the tram from Teton Village all the way to Rendezvous Mountain, which offers a much shorter hike to Marion Lake. However, for a solely human-powered experience, the Granite Canyon Trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road is your best bet.

Once on the trail, you’ll quickly start climbing as you make your way toward the mouth of the canyon. Inside the canyon, you’ll continue climbing until you reach the old Patrol Cabin, which is now a national historic site.

Beyond the cabin there are a few campsites, but do keep in mind that permits are required for overnight stays. If you’re keen to make it all the way to the lake itself in one day, you’ll need to keep on hiking to the head of Granite Canyon.

Not long afterward, you’ll find yourself on the shores of glistening Marion Lake where you can go for a dip if you’re feeling brave. Then, you can either head back to the trailhead or pitch your camp for the night and rest up for the return leg in the morning.

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 18.1 miles (2,900ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Granite Canyon Trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road
Leigh & String Lakes

10. Leigh & String Lakes

Home to some of the most popular swimming destinations in Grand Teton National Park, hiking to Leigh and String lakes is an excellent outing for hikers of all abilities.

This adventure starts at the parking area for both String and Leigh lakes. You’ll start out on a paved path that brings you down to String Lake after just a few minutes of walking. If you’re short on time or aren’t up for a longer jaunt in the woods, this makes for the perfect stopping point for your journey.

Once you take in the views of String Lake, you can continue along the mellow path that will eventually bring you to Leigh Lake. If you plan to do this hike in the early morning, you’ll also be treated to views of the sunrise above Mount Moran in the distance.

After about half an hour of hiking, you’ll find yourself on the shores of Leigh Lake, which is the third-largest body of water in Grand Teton National Park. This lake is a bit trickier to access due to its relative lack of beaches, but there are plenty of small spur trails that lead down to the water for you to check out.

Additionally, if you’re feeling up for more walking, there are a few other destinations in the area that are worth visiting. For example, you can meander down to Bearpaw Lake or even Jackson Lake without adding too much extra mileage to your roundtrip journey.

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 3.7 miles (50ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: String and Leigh Lakes parking area near Jenny Lake
Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

11. Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point

A popular option in the Jenny Lake area, the trip to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point is a must-do for any visitor.

To access this hike, you’ll either have to walk around Jenny Lake or take the boat shuttle to the trailhead on the lake’s western shores. Once you’re there, you’ll begin your trip by climbing steadily upward through a coniferous forest.

Soon enough, you’ll cross Cascade Canyon Creek. However, it’s worth noting that black bears like to frequent this area, so be sure to have bear spray on hand at all times. 

After a bit more walking, the trail opens up and offers superb views of Hidden Falls, one of the largest and most accessible waterfalls in Grand Teton National Park.

Additionally, if you have time on your hands, continuing onward past the falls to Inspiration Point is a must. While the trip to the point does involve a bit of uphill travel, it offers some of the best views in the park and should definitely be on your bucket list.

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 2.3 miles (430ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Access: Cascade Canyon Trailhead on the west side of Jenny Lake
Static Peak Divide

12. Static Peak Divide

When people think of Grand Teton hiking trails, the Static Peak Divide often comes to mind. This trek is considered one of the best hikes in the Tetons and is an excellent choice for more experienced hikers.

Setting off from the Death Canyon Trailhead, this strenuous hike ascents around 5,000ft over the course of 16.3 miles. Along the way, you’ll be treated to views of Phelps Lake, Alaska Basin, Jackson Hole, and even the Gros Ventre Range in the distance.

This hike climbs steadily upward for nearly its entire course, so be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for the journey. After about 7.3 miles of climbing, you’ll eventually make it to a saddle between Static Peak and Albright Peak where you’ll want to stop and catch your breath.

Then, when you’re ready, you’ll continue up your last set of switchbacks to the top of Static Peak Divide. 

At 10,790ft in elevation, Static Peak Divide is the highest point along any maintained path in the park. Here, the views are nothing short of spectacular as you can often see everything from Jackson Hole to the Wind River Range off to the east. 

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 16.3 miles (5,000ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Access: Death Canyon Trailhead on Moose-Wilson Road (4WD recommended)

Which Grand Teton Hike Will You Tackle First?

In Grand Teton National Park and nearby Jackson Hole, where mountain adventures abound, the challenge is determining which of the park’s numerous hiking trails is best suited for you.

We hope our guide to the best hiking in Grand Teton National Park helped you plan the perfect trip to the Teton Range. If you had a chance to check out any of these trails on your visit, let us know about your epic Grand Teton hike in the comments below! Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends so everyone can enjoy the magic of this amazing park.

Last update on 2024-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Gaby Avatar

Gaby is a professional polar guide, wilderness medicine instructor, and freelance writer with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She splits her time between the northern and southern hemispheres, chasing the midnight sun and helping others get outside to experience some of the world’s most beautiful places.

As an outdoor educator, Gaby is passionate about making the outdoors as accessible as possible for anyone looking to get into the mountains or out on the water. She is a certified Polar Guide, an AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Course Provider, a NOLS instructor, and an accomplished climbing guide with a penchant for telemark skiing.

When she’s not hanging out with penguins in Antarctica or scouting for polar bears in the Arctic, you can find Gaby backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range or drinking debatably excessive amounts of espresso and reading French existentialism in a quirky café.

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