And we managed to avoid tripping and falling off the trail zigzagging up out of the North Fork of Cascade Canyon, despite the distraction of staring down that U-shaped glacial trough at the arrowheads of the Grand Teton and Mts. Owen and Teewinot rising more than a vertical mile above it.
I had not yet heard the term katabatic winds, but when later I learned what it meant, I remembered that night. The Teton Crest Trail presents a couple of innocent deceptions. First of all, it does not stick to the Teton crest, if there even is one contiguous crest linking these densely packed spires and boulder heaps.
That would require rock-climbing gear, advanced skills, and a high degree of emotional comfort with seeing a couple thousand feet of air beneath your heels. But the Tetons do follow a north-south orientation that, at least on a map, forms something of a crest. But it is not strictly that; because the TCT lies deep in the mountains, hiking it requires linking with other trails as well. Granite, Open, Death, the main Cascade, and Paintbrush Canyons are all worthy destinations, as are the canyons in the adjacent national forest land that access the trail, including Phillips, Moose, and Teton.
You may discover, like me, that one hike here is like one potato chip: not nearly enough. One of the most enjoyable was one of my most recent: taking my kids, then age eight and six, on a three-day loop of Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons—their first backpacking trip in the Tetons—capped off with a sighting of two big bull moose on our last day.
There are peaks and climbs still on my tick list, and hikes I want to repeat with my children. Want to make your pack lighter and all of your backpacking trips more enjoyable? Summers often deliver stable, frequently sunny weather, though one of the challenges is the afternoon thunderstorms see Concerns below. Other challenges include acclimating to elevations generally between 8, and nearly 11, feet, and protecting your food from bears see Concerns below. A former field editor and primary gear reviewer for Backpacker Magazine, Michael Lanza created The Big Outside to share stories and images from his many backpacking, hiking, and other outdoor adventures, as well as expert tips and gear reviews to help readers plan and pull off their own great adventures.
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But a couple questions …. Passes: Fox Creek, Mt. Meek and Hurricane. Fox creek seems mild, with some runout just as you gain the shelf. Meek looks flat, but likely covered in snow. The climb of Hurricane seems medium, but the descent seems the toughest spot on the route for us hikers. What do you know about the descent off Hurricane heading northbound?
We will both be carrying axes. All four of us have microspikes and trekking poles. What do you think about this idea? Bailout Points: — Tram!
Alternate Plans: Could you suggest some alternate plans for us? Maybe up Cascade Canyon for a couple nights but not actually crossing paintbrush or hurricane? And the Tetons are coming off a pretty big winter, so the snow conditions will likely look more like early June for your dates.
Your best options may be hiking up some canyons as far as possible for overnight trips or possibly a two- or three-night trip. You can hike up Granite Canyon maybe all the way to Marion Lake with manageable snow. You could hike up Cascade Canyon quite possibly to somewhere in the South Fork to spend a night or two nights with a dayhike toward Hurricane Pass on the free day not likely reaching the pass, but a nice hike, anyway ; then spend a night in the North Fork and dayhike to Lake Solitude.
Really have loved the site and info for years, the info and images from your trips are incredibly helpful and inspiring. My buddies and I do a multi-day trip each summer. The last few have been the Timberline Trail epic and difficult with the added challenge of several exciting river crossings and the Grafton Notch Loop in Maine fantastic with a lot of elevation gain and not a soul on the trail.
This year is the Tetons.
We are pretty fit and if time permits would be interested in a few exciting side trips along the way. I was wondering if you could recommend any that are worthwhile? I would appreciate any light you can shed. Thanks again for your help and for all the info that you share.
I love the Timberline Trail around Mount Hood , and I agree, it delivers full value on the excitement with those creek crossings. Congrats on your plans for the Teton Crest Trail. My complete e-guide to backpacking the Teton Crest Trail provides details on my favorite side hike off the TCT, the 1.
Fabulous view. Highly recommended. I have a permit for the Teton Crest Trail this summer, too, following a similar itinerary to yours, but with somewhat different campsite choices. Great trip, I never get tired of it. Enjoy your hike, be safe. Thanks again for writing. I will be going solo and have time on my side. My question is with regards to the permit system. You recommend showing up the day before at an early hour.
Say I show up at 7am the day before I hike: is it possible to then claim nights of permits in the backcountry say on the Cascade or Death Canyon trails? It is possible to get several permits at once? Lastly, are the permits specific to campsites? Hi Jeff, thanks for the kind words. I would show up and get in line at least a couple hours before the backcountry office opens. The permit you get then will cover all the nights you are camping in the backcountry—one permit per trip.
The permit is specific to camping zones in the Tetons; and there are usually several campsites within each zone; so when you reach a camping zone each day, you grab an unoccupied campsite. You can only get one walk-in permit on any given day, but one permit does cover an entire trip. Hi Michael! Is there any reason to avoid the trail in the first week or two of September??
Thanks for your advise! Hi Sam, thanks for the nice words. I generally prefer the first half of September. As examples, this year, we saw a snowstorm over Labor Day weekend in the Idaho mountains and the Tetons, and glorious weather most of the rest of September. A friend and I backpacked five nice days in the North Cascades in the last week of September with mostly excellent weather. Hope that answers your question. Good luck with your trip planning.
Your blog and the info provided was a huge reason I now have several huge framed photos hanging around my house from my trip to the Tetons in early September Thanks again for doing what you do and look for another inquiry from me on your input for backpacking somewhere in the Southwest next! To anyone on the fence about tackling the Teton Crest Trail; stop questioning and start planning.
It was unreal. And you picked one of the best! Nice going. See my Custom Trip Planning page for details on how I can do that for you. Myself and few friends are planning on hitting the Teton Crest Trail nearly August this next year.
The train tracks in front of the falls were removed and converted into a recreational trail. The resort has been hosting International Freeskiing Association IFSA events for the past four years, drawing the best freeskiers in the world to its cliff-riddled slopes. I thought Paintbrush Canyon was the scariest hiking I have ever done. Hermitage Point. Grand Teton National Park.