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839 Tetons - Grand Teton Loop

Prospectors Mountain in Death Canyon

Grand Teton Loop, Part 4 - a few helpful notes ...

Our plan for doing the Loop (as essentially a day hike) came from our not wanting to carry a heavy pack. We wanted to be able to move fast and enjoy the hike instead of laboring under the weight of a heavy load. However, for a first time trip (on much of the trail) the mountainous part of the loop was almost too much to absorb in a single day.

After reading different guides, we chose to hike the trail in reverse of the normal suggested route. The descriptions were for a four day backpacking trip, not a day hike. Our goal was to climb high as soon as possible and return to tree line before the afternoon storms. We chose to start at Death Canyon and climb Static Peak first.

We had previously hiked the Paintbrush Loop in a day. We felt as if the two trails would be similar.

With only one vehicle, the Jenny Lake Campsite was important to make the loop work. We stored all our food in the site bear lockers at the campground and all of our other clothes and gear in the tent. Jenny Lake also has sites for bicyclists and hikers, I would assume you could use one of them for such a venture. A bunk at the Climbers Ranch would also work.

flowers along the trail

We started early in the morning from Death Canyon. We don't like walking in the dark in bear country, so we started as close to dawn as possible - around 5. Our goal was to be heading down into the South Fork of Cascade Canyon by early afternoon. We were also very mindful of the weather and in particular the thunderstorms.

Oddly enough, we did not have to have a permit to leave our vehicle overnight at Death Canyon Trailhead. Vehicle information is on backcountry permits, but since we did not go backcountry camping it was not required for us to leave the vehicle overnight.

We used some campground neighbors as our contacts for the trip. We told them when we should return and when we would be late. We returned to our campsite within a few minutes of our expected time of arrival.

Campsites are available in the Phelps Lake area. We did not walk to them.

We started early in the morning in the cooler temperatures and did not carry much water with us to keep our packs lighter on the climb through Death Canyon. Once at the top of the Canyon, near the Patrol Cabin, we filtered water for the next leg of the trip.

Wildflowers were in full bloom on our July trip, especially on the south facing slopes of the climb up Albright Peak.

static Pass

Once on the shoulder of Albright Peak there were great views of the Valley most of the way to Static Pass.

The climb to Static Pass was not overly difficult, it was just long.

At Static Pass, we were at a personal check point. We checked the weather, our condition, water, food, etc - before dropping off into Alaska Basin. The Pass was sort of a point of no return.

alaska Basin

After leaving the Park boundaries (entering the Wilderness or Forest lands) the trail was not as well maintained. It was not difficult to follow it was just a little rougher.

We had to cross snow a few times. I think all but one of the crossings could have been avoided. We did not bring ice axes, but our trekking poles were helpful. For footwear we both wore Hoka Mafate running shoes.

The trail intersects at a few junctions. At each junction, we stopped and checked the map. At all of the junctions the path seemed obvious, but it is still a good practice to check the map.

Sunset Lake in Targhee National Forest

Camping is allowed in the Targhee National Forest. A key camping area is at Sunset Lake. Please protect the fragile, scenic area and obey all of the camping regulations.

The trail descends to Sunset Lake. There are trees in the area that might provide shelter in a storm.

With two vehicles, the Loop could be done with a single campsite at Sunset Lake.

The climb to Hurricane Pass was very scenic. There were good views back to Sunset Lake and little previews of the tops of the Tetons as we climbed. The views only got better.

The climb from Sunset Lake to Hurricane Pass provides dramatic, up close views of the Tetons. Coming up from the South Fork, the Tetons are always in view and probably not as grand, but coming up from Sunset Lake, you sort of sneak up on them and then - bang - they are there, right in your face!

A hiker at Hurricane Pass announced that there were 12 people at the Pass, but we arrived at a prime early afternoon time (around noon). We were not at the Pass we were really at the shoulder above the Pass.

The hike down Hurricane Pass was exposed but the grade was tamed by switchbacks. Please, never shortcut switchbacks.

Hurricane Pass could also be reached as an out and back (using the same trailhead) day hike from Jenny Lake. An early start would be advised.

On the descent from the pass there are still great views of the Tetons and down below to Schoolroom Glacier.

We filtered water again at the uppermost creek near the trail.

The South Fork of Cascade Canyon Camping Zone has many sites. The sites are not assigned. The area is so large that there are lower sites, middle sites and upper sites. There does not seem to be any way of knowing whether a site in the upper sites (for example) has an opening, until you get there.

All of the campsites looked great.

The South Fork was very scenic. There were many cascades and views of the mountains.

One of the many Cascades

Near the junction of the North Fork and South Fork there were many huge boulders in the area.

The Cascade Canyon section of the trail was easy.

The views were still great, but by then we were a bit numb by that point in the trip.

trail through Cascade Canyon

Once reaching Inspiration Point, it was full on shopping mall type of traffic. An advantage of starting from Jenny Lake would be to avoid the Inspiration Point afternooners.

I talked Amy into walking around Jenny Lake to the campsite instead of riding the boat. After a great day, I wasn't ready to re-enter the hustle and bustle of standing in lines.

The regular Lake Trail was closed for construction. We had to walk the Horse Trail which was longer and more difficult, just what we needed! Argh!

At daybreak we awoke and started preparing for the day, walking the Valley Trail back to the vehicle at Death Canyon.

We left camp as soon as possible to avoid the heat.

The Bradley Lake (Loop Trail only) Campsite was great.

bradley Lake

From Taggart Lake to the Death Canyon Trailhead the trail was overgrown and did not seem to see much use.

In older maps the Death Canyon Trailhead is called the White Grass Trailhead. They are the same place.

Whether you hike the Teton Loop as a day hike, two day backpacking trip, or full on four night trip, it is a great hike.

Happy Teton Loop trails


Teton Loop part 1

Teton Loop part 2

Teton Loop part 3

Grand Teton National Park - Backcountry Camping

Grand Targhee National Forest


cloudhiking's Adventure Guide and Map


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