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978 Paintbrush Divide Loop
Trail Guide - Tetons

Trail crossing Paintbrush Divide

Many hikes in the mountains are out and back, day hikes. The trails follow a drainage that ends on the shores of an upper lake or land formation. To return to the trailhead it is just a matter of reversing the path. Then, there are a few trails that go out one drainage, cross a divide, and then continue as the trail descends into a different drainage. Paintbrush Divide Loop Trail in Grand Teton National Park is one of those special trails that crosses a divide and it crosses in grand fashion.

A few years back as my wife and I were exploring the trails of the Tetons, we hiked to Holly Lake to climb Mount Woodring (which sits on the northern shore of the lake.) The trail and Holly Lake were great but the climb was not much fun, but the views were. As we climbed high along the ridge toward the summit of Woodring (we chose not to summit - but that's another story), we were able to see the hiking trail crossing the divide to the west in dramatic fashion. We thought that it would make a great hike, it was the Paintbrush Divide Trail.

On our next visit to the Park we hiked the loop. We climbed through Paintbrush Canyon to Holly Lake, above the lake to the upper slopes of the canyon, across the snow slopes and scree, and finally up a ramp to the divide. Wow! Soon, we were looking down into the North Fork of Cascade Canyon and beautiful Lake Solitude. The Tetons (to the south) soon came into view and we could hardly make any time hiking because we were having to stop to take photos of the mountains. What a hike!

Upper Paintbrush Canyon

Upper Paintbrush Canyon

We are happy to announce that the Paintbrush Divide Loop Trail Guide is finished on cloudhiking.com. Here are a few notes ...

There are 60 photos in the Guide (and page 2), and wished we could have shared even more.

Quite a few of the photos are of trail signs. The signs are great waypoints that are easily definable. Of course they are not much to look at ... Park brown with white lettering. Yeah, that's boring.

The route taken starts from the String Lake Trailhead, goes around the west side of String Lake, then up Paintbrush Canyon to the Divide. After crossing the Divide, the route enters the North Fork of Cascade Canyon and descends to Lake Solitude. Continuing, the route descends the North Fork and then Cascade Canyon. About 0.30 mile before reaching Inspiration Point, the route takes the Horse Trail to the north. The Horse Trail bypasses Inspiration Point as it descends to Jenny Lake Trail. Finally, follow the Jenny Lake Trail to the north to complete the loop at the String Lake Trailhead.

The described route cuts 1.15 miles from the overall length and avoids the busy String Lake Picnic Area and the Inspiration Point - Hidden Falls area.

The route can be hiked in either direction. We liked hiking up Paintbrush Canyon, first. On Page 2 of the Guide we discuss the options.

The Guide includes Route Data, Trailhead Directions, Route Description, Route Notes, Mileage, Map Links, and User Comments.

We also discuss gear, and other logistics.

We have hiked the Loop in both directions, but have only hiked it as a day hike. The Loop would make a great backpacking trip, but you would have to carry a heavier load over the Divide.

Paintbrush Canyon and the North Fork make great backcountry destinations as out and back hikes.

Always check with the Jenny Lake Rangers on trail conditions before starting the hike.

As a day hike and early start and good hiking pace is required.

Upper Paintbrush Canyon retains snow through July. Crossing the snow slopes may be dangerous. Hikers need snow skills and knowledge of snow conditions to safely cross the slopes.

If the conditions do not look good, you can always turn around and try another day. You still had a good hike.

North Fork of Cascade Canyon

North Fork of Cascade Canyon

Paintbrush Canyon is a great adventure. Check out the Guide and dream. It is that good.

Happy Paintbrush Canyon Divide trails


Grand Teton National Park

cloudhiking.com - Paintbrush Divide Loop Map

cloudhiking.com - Paintbrush Divide Loop Guide


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