See http://www.nps.gov/grte/ for
the Grand Tetons official site.
Note that all the trails are well defined and there are distance to go markers at the start and at each trail junction.
Also note that the upper trails may still be snowed over until mid-July or later. There were a number of snow patches heading up and down from the Paintbrush Divide when I went July 23, but the other trails were clear.
Wyoming Pictures (16 pictures)
String and Leigh Lakes Directions: String Lake-Leigh Lake parking lot bathroom with sinks (no water fountain) $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: 2-person or so width, dirt trail that goes along String Lake and Leigh Lakes. Pretty reflection views in the mornings. Trail Length + Elevation: Up to 2 miles one-way to end of Leigh Lake (1 mile to Leigh Lake), fairly flat Area: Lower lakes with the Tetons above Picture When I did the hike: July 2003 (couple of times); Thursday, August 28, 2007 Recommendation: Definitely, good for a short hike or family hike.
Paintbrush-Cascade Canyons loop Directions: String Lake trailhead parking lot - the first parking lot for the area. Bathroom with sinks at nearby Leigh Lake parking lot $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: For those who want a challenge and to see it all in 1 day, there is this almost 20 mile, 3,845 feet gained monster loop. For those who don't want the challenge, skip the divide and do the 2 lakes on separate days. To start the hike, you can either go below or above String Lake - there is little mileage difference between the two. To go below, take the Leigh Lake trail (this is the prettier way) for a mile, cross the bridge, and then after a little bit you'll start to gain elevation for almost a mile before joining up with the above way. To go above, cross the bridge near the String Lake trailhead parking lot and then hang a right. The one-person width dirt trail starts climbing right away and includes an open area from an old fire (green though, not burnt out). After about another mile from the Leigh Lake junction, the trail starts heading up into the canyon. It's a foresty few miles with a gradual elevation increase. Then come some switchbacks and some open and rocky terrain. After several more switchbacks (not a ton) and rocky terrain comes the junction for Holly Lake. Take a right and you have about 1/2 a mile to go. Be sure to take a look at the small lake shortly after the fork and take a short a trip up the rocks for a good look down into Paintbrush Canyon. Holly Lake is a nice sized mountain lake in a half-bowl. It took me almost 3 1/2 hours to get to Holly Lake (only took me 3 hours the 2nd time). Rest and relax at the lake. If you're lucky, you'll have it to yourself. If you're heading up the divide, rest and relax some more, 'cause you have a really tough hike ahead of you. The up starts right way heading away from Holly Lake and continues for the next 2.2 miles to the divide. And a little ways past Holly Lake, the trail gets rocky - small loose rocks. Add to that fun, in addition to a harder grade, were a good number of snow patches (weren't any patches in late August 2007). There were enough prior footprints through the snow that I didn't need an ice ax, but it was slow going and I put my sun glasses on due to the glare. It took me 2 hours just to get from Holly Lake to the divide. But I let out a big "YES" and "Woohoo!" when I reached the divide. In contrast, it only took me 1 1/4 hours to hike the 2.2 miles from the divide down to Lake Solitude. The views coming down from the divide are the reason to do the loop in this direction as you can see Lake Solitude the whole way down and you get glimpses at the small, precious Mica Lake (no trail to it) [there are no views of Holly Lake until you are almost there]. Lake Solitude is a large sized mountain lake - and there will also likely be others there. Rest and enjoy the lake, 'cause it's a long hike down Cascade Canyon. I didn't find Cascade Canyon as pretty as Paintbrush Canyon, but it does have some pretty views of the peaks. It's a more open canyon with less shade until closer to Jenny Lake. The last several miles are just a trudge. After all the scenery along the loop, Inspiration Point (which looks out on Jenny Lake) wasn't very inspirational and Hidden Falls were pretty blah. Including breaks at the lakes and rests along the way (many in Cascade Canyon), the loop took me a little over 11 hours to complete [started at 7 am, finished at 6:10 pm]. Trail Length + Elevation: 6.2 miles, 2,535 feet from String Lake up to Holly Lake 2.2 miles, 1,310 feet from Holly Lake up to Paintbrush Divide 2.2 miles, 1,593 feet from Paintbrush Divide down to Lake Solitude 7.2 miles, 2,252 feet from Lake Solitude down to Jenny Lake 2 miles, fairly level from Jenny Lake to String Lake parking lot Area: Lower lakes, wooded areas, open areas, mountain lakes, waterfalls, rugged divide. I saw elk (male, female, kid), moose, lots of marmots, squirrels, and chipmunks. I didn't see any bear, but it is bear country. Pictures When I did the hike: Wednesday, July 23, 2003; Monday, July 28 (to Holly Lake and back); Thursday, August 30, 2007; Thursday, August 11, 2011 (Holly Lake [pass still snowed over with 2011 heavy snow pack]) Recommendation: Needless to say, this is a tough, tough hike and you need to be in really good shape to consider doing this in one day. The many pretty views and sense of accomplishment when you reach Paintbrush Divide are worth it. If you don't want to do the much harder loop, you can do one-way separate hikes to Holly Lake and Lake Solitude (and take 2 miles off the Lake Solitude hike by taking the shuttle boat (fee) instead of hiking around Lake Jenny). Both lakes are well worth visits. I liked the Paintbrush Canyon and Holly Lake better than Cascade Canyon and Lake Solitude and re-did that hike on my last day.
Lake Marion-Granite Canyon Directions: Teton Village tram station [note that the tram doesn't start until 9 am and stops at 6 pm] bathroom and food at top of the tram ride $15 (non-summer) or $17 (summer) for the tram trip up [don't need a Park pass or park fee unless you park at the Granite Canyon trailhead] NOTE: The tram closed in 2006, so this hike is no longer possible (unless you want to hike up the mountain, which would make it a multi-day hike). Trails: This hike starts with a steep down as the trail goes down the backside of Mt Rendezvous. Then you go up the next hill and down the other side. Then a level area for about 1/2 a mile across a plain and most of the rest of the way is open area (little shade) to the lake. After going down and crossing a creek, the trail goes up and up and up over a good-size hill. And then down the other side of the hill to the canyon junction. Ahead is a steep .6 mile climb to Marion Lake. It took me about 3 1/2 hours to get from the tram to Marion Lake - I was tired though (did the big hike the day before), so most would probably get there quicker. Marion Lake is a smaller sized mountain lake that isn't too impressive. I didn't stay too long as the clouds started rolling in - it did rain on me during the hike down. After Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons, the hike down Granite Canyon wasn't very impressive. There were lots of open areas, some tree areas, and occasionally the trail went along the stream. Most of it descends gradually, but there were a couple of ups and a couple of switchbacks down. It's a long hike from the lake back to Teton Village. It took me about 5 hours to do that stretch, including breaks along the way (again, I was tired, so it was a slower pace and longer breaks). Trail Length + Elevation: Almost 6 miles from the tram to Marion Lake (lists 1,206 feet gained, but I think it was more than that with the ups-and-downs) The junction for Granite Canyon is .6 miles before Marion Lake About 9.5 miles from junction down to and over to Teton Village (includes 2.5 mile connecting trail), 4,135 feet lost Area: Down and up and down and up and down mountains, small mountain lake, woodsy canyon Picture When I did the hike: Thursday, July 24, 2003 Recommendation: Only if you've already down the other Teton hikes. Lake Marion was the least impressive of the mountain lakes I visited - and you probably won't be lucky enough to see a moose cooling off in the lake to make this hike worth it. But any mountain lake is worth visiting. It's not an easy hike as it's an up-and-down-up-and-down hike to the lake and those take more energy. NOTE: The tram closed in 2006, so this hike is no longer possible (unless you want to hike up the mountain, which would make it a multi-day hike).
Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes Directions: In the Tetons, take the Lupine Meadows dirt road to the end. chemical toilet in parking lot, no water Note that the parking lot and overflow lots were full when I finished my hike. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: The steepest trail in the park is also the most rewarding. The one-person width dirt trail (some rocks higher up) starts fairly level for less than a mile and then heads up along a ridge at a decent grade for another mile or so. The trail is in the trees most of the way. The fun starts as you zig-zag up the mountain. It starts as long zig-zags and they get shorter the higher up you go. There are 9 long zig-zags and 8 shorter ones. Once they finally end, it is a short mild bit to Surprise Lake. Surprise Lake is a pretty, small-sized mountain lake. A lot of people only made short visits to Surprise Lake or even skipped it all together, but I really liked this lake and even stopped there again on the way back down. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to get to Surprise Lake. Amphitheater Lake is only .2 miles ahead, but it's all up. And it is the jewel of the park. It's a good sized mountain lake and it's got the cathedrals (the 3 tallest peaks of the Tetons) looming above. Go a little above the lake to the left and you might get some stunning reflection views of the peaks on the lake. Stay a while and enjoy the majesty. The hike up didn't leave me sore or tired (surprisingly), but the hike down had my legs, knees, and feet screaming in pain (it was my 3rd tough hike in 4 days). It took me about 2 hours to get from Surprise Lake back to the car. The second time I did this hike, I took a sidetrip to Garnet Canyon - the junction for that trail is shortly after the 5th switchback of the Amphitheater trail. The trail goes for 1.1 miles and ends at a boulder field (rock climbers continue on). It is a short up to start and then fairly mild as the trail rounds the bend. Turnaround at a good view up the valley of the 2 peaks, just before the rock field - continuing will just exert more effort and not give you any better views. The trail goes through the rock field, walking on the loose rocks. There are a couple of switchbacks ahead. The trail ends at a boulder field with no easy way through it. Trail Length + Elevation: 4.8 miles, 2,958 feet to Amphitheater Lake Area: Mostly tree area, with some open area during the zig-zags, 2 precious mountain lakes Picture When I did the hike: Saturday, July 26, 2003; Thursday, August 30, 2007 (plus Garnet Canyon) Recommendation: If you can only do 1 hike in the Tetons, this is the one to do. You shouldn't visit the Tetons without doing this hike. [You likely won't have the lakes to yourself, though. I saw lots and lots of people during the hike.] If you have the energy, on the way down, you can take an about .5 mile mild sidetrip for Garnet Canyon - round the mend and turn around after a short bit (don't go all the way up the canyon).
Taggart and Bradley Lakes Directions: Park in the Taggart Lake parking lot non-flush toilet in parking lot, no water $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: It's a fairly easy 2 mile hike along a one-person width dirt trail to Taggart Lake, a good sized lower lake. It's a little bit of a climb from Taggart to Bradley Lake. Bradley Lake is a little bit smaller than Taggart Lake. Trail Length + Elevation: 2 miles, small elevation to Taggart Lake 1 mile, about 300 feet from Taggart to Bradley Lake 2 miles back to the parking lot Area: Fairly open (old 1985 fire area) to the lakes and trees around pretty, lower mountain lakes When I did the hike: Sunday, July 27, 2003 Recommendation: A nice little hike for an easier day. If you go early enough, you can avoid the crowds and have some pretty mountain reflections on the lakes.
Ski Lake (Teton Pass) Directions: From Jackson, take Rt 22 (stop light at Rt 89-22 junction) west towards Teton Pass. Heading up towards the pass, just past a U-curve in the road a little bit before reaching the pass (on the east side of the pass) is a dirt parking area on the left (south) and just past that on the right is turn for a gravel road (which is the start of the hike). No facilities. Free. Trails: After (carefully) crossing Rt 22, walk up the gravel road (Philip Canyon road) a short bit to the info sign. Continue on the road a little bit and then take a left at the sign for Ski Lake on to a packed dirt trail. The trail stays just a little above the road for a ways as it heads a mild up. The trail gets further above the road and then heads left into the trees with a bit more of an up (not hard). After a short down, the trail reaches a large meadow. At the end of the meadow is a signed junction - take a left for Ski Lake. The trail goes through some trees and some meadows as it heads up (again, not hard) and over to the lake, a little over a mile from the junction. The small, circular lake was blah, not scenic, smelly, and buggy when I was there (and, thus, I basically turned around and headed back shortly after reaching the lake). Trail Length + Elevation: 2.5 miles, 850 ft one-way Area: Mountains, trees, blah lake When I did the hike: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 Recommendation: Nope. Your time is much better spent in Grand Teton National Park.
Mammoth Hot Springs area - Yellowstone National Park Directions: In Yellowstone, in the Mammoth Hot Springs area, there area parking areas in the lower terraces area alongside the main road and in upper terraces area shortly on the Upper Terraces Drive (loop). Park where ever you can find a spot - you'll want to see both the upper and lower areas. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: Almost everything is boardwalk and wooden steps as the trails makes its way above and around the beautiful Mammoth Hot Springs terraces. Pick up a brochure along the way ($1) for more information about the area [grumble, can't find mine]. I really liked the area to the upper south with a pretty thermal spring on top of the terrace and the area to the lower north with a colorful mound. Trail Length: about .5 mile Area: Thermal area Picture When I did the hike: September 2006; Friday, August 12, 2011 Recommendation: Absolutely. A unique area - one of the few terraces in the world. Be sure to also do the Upper Terraces Loop Drive.
Artists Paintpots - Yellowstone National Park Directions: In Yellowstone, about 4 miles south of the Norris junction and 10 miles north of the Madison junction. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: The wide trail is an ugly, level walk through a thin forest/ brush with nothing interesting along the way for .5 mile. After that is a loop (mostly boardwalk, some dirt) through area that has a couple of thermal springs, some steam vents, and some paint pots (bubbling mud) - they are spread out a little bit compared to the Fountain Paint Pot area. Trail Length: about .5 mile walk to the area and then a .5 mile loop Area: Thermal area When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Recommendation: Skip it - go to the Fountain Paint Pot area for better thermal items.
Fountain Paint Pot area - Yellowstone National Park Directions: In Yellowstone, about 7 miles south of the Madison junction and 8 miles north of the Old Faithful area. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: A short boardwalk loop around a thermal area, including several thermal springs (with their stunning blue color), a couple of small geysers, and a paint pot area (bubbling mud). Trail Length: about .5 mile Area: Thermal area Picture When I did the hike: July 2003; September 2006; Tuesday, August 28, 2007 Recommendation: Absolutely. A must to see some interesting and pretty thermal characteristics in a short area. Also do the nearby Firehole Lake Drive for more neat thermal stuff (the one-way loop drive starts about a mile south of Fountain Paint Pot area).
Old Faithful area - Yellowstone National Park Directions: In Yellowstone, the Old Faithful area - between Madison and Grant Village. Park in the area near the Old Faithful Lodge. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: After finding out when the next Old Faithful eruption is (and make sure you are there for the famous eruption), head around on the boardwalk to the backside of the geyser and take the bridge over the Firehole River and walk the boardwalk loop through the thermal area that includes a number of thermal springs and small geysers. In 2011 I decided to walk more of the boardwalk area than just the simple loop - glad I did as there were many more neat thermal stuff, I got to see another geyser erupt, and just generally enjoyed myself for a couple of leisurely hours (did it in the morning before the crowds arrived). The boardwalk was slick at some spots with the water from the geysers and a cool morning. Trail Length: short to over 3 miles Area: Thermal area When I did the hike: July 2003; September 2006; Friday, August 12, 2011 Recommendation: The most famous spot in Yellowstone. Do walk the area behind the geyser instead of simply being a tourist and only watching the geyser. And if you have the time, take a longer walk in the geyser area.
Yellowstone Falls area - Yellowstone National Park Directions: In Yellowstone, at the Canyon Village junction, head west into the village area and continue on the road as it becomes a one-way road (early on is the right turn for the road to Inspiration Point) that makes a half-loop mostly along the canyon's edge. There are a number of parking areas along the road. A little bit south from where the half-loop comes out on the main road is a short road to a parking area for the short trail to the view of the Upper Falls. A little bit further south on the main road is the turn for the area on the west side of the canyon. After crossing the bridge, the first left is to a large parking lot for the Uncle Tom's Trail. The road continues out to Artist Point [the park re-modeled Artist Point in 2007 and that area was closed when I was there]. $20 per car for a 7 day pass or National Parks Pass Trails: There are trails that going along both rims of the canyon - for the east side, the trail goes from Inspiration Point to the bridge; for the west side, the trail goes from the bridge to Artist Point - but most people (including me) make stops at the various viewpoints and either enjoy the views from above or talk short trails down to better views of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it's two large waterfalls. On the east side: Inspiration Point has a nice view of the canyon. Lookout Point (short trail down to a better view) has the best view of the Lower Falls. The last parking area is for a longer, switchback down to the top of the Lower Falls (not that impressive). The Upper Falls View is a down to a viewpoint of the top of the Upper Falls (the Lower Falls is the prettier of the two). All the trails are packed dirt and well used. They are mostly switchbacks with few steps. Remember, what goes down, must come up. On the west side: To the top left of Uncle Tom's parking area is a view of the Upper Falls. Uncle Tom's Trail starts to the top right and heads through the trees a short bit before reaching a junction - take a right. A short bit ahead is another junction. Straight goes to Artist point. A left will take you down, down, down. It is not a trail, but a metal staircase that has 350 steps. But the view from the bottom is wonderful. You get a good view of the Lower Falls from the side, a close up view of the canyon walls with its orange, yellow, and green moss colors, and, if you're lucky, you might even get a rainbow in the mist. Of course, then you have to go back up all those stairs. Trail Length: Varies as too how much you want to do - short or long. Area: Two massive waterfalls, large canyon. Pictures When I did the hike: Tuesday, August 28, 2007; Friday, August 12, 2011 Recommendation: A very pretty area. The Lower Falls is the prettier of the two falls and the view from the bottom of the staircase from Uncle Tom's Trail is my favorite.
Devil's Tower Directions: Hwy 24 to Hwy 110 and the park entrance. Follow the road to the end. Bathrooms in the parking area $10 per car or National Parks Pass Trails: The Tower Trail is a 1.3 mile cracked paved loop around the base of the tower. There are a number of rock mounds near the trail that kids enjoy playing on. The 3 mile Red Beds Trail is a little further from the tower and is a dirt trail - I didn't go very far on it before turning around as it wasn't that exciting and the views of the tower were much better from the Tower Trail and I had a busy day planned. Trails Length 1.3 mile Tower Trail 3 mile Red Beds Trail 1.5 mile Joyner Ridge Trail (not around the tower) Area: big Devil's Tower, thin woods When I did the hike: Sunday, July 31, 2005; Wednesday, July 2, 2008 Recommendation: Devil's Tower is definitely worth a visit due to it being so unique, but it's not really a hiking destination. Unless you are using equipment to climb the tower, you probably won't spend more than an hour or 2 here.