The country around Jackson abounds with hundreds of miles of hiking trails, providing recreation opportunities for all levels of ability. Many of the most popular local trails are within nearby Grand Teton National Park.
Notable in-the-park hikes are found in the Taggart Lake and Jenny Lake areas, at Colter Bay, and off the Moose-Wilson Road. The Information Center in Jackson has a brochure detailing these hikes, and a local outdoors shop, Skinny Skis (65 W. Deloney Ave., 307/733-6094 or 888/733-7205, www.skinnyskis.com), produces an excellent free summertime guide to hiking in the area called Trailhead.
For a fast trip to the alpine, take the Jackson Hole Ski Resort tram to the summit of Rendezvous Mountain ($25 adults, $12 kids), where trails fan out in various directions into Grand Teton National Park; the bird’s-eye view is hard to beat. Visitors can also ride the free Bridger gondola (4:30-9 p.m.) to the 9,095-foot level, with access to additional hiking trails, as well as casual meals at the Deck or fine dining at Couloir Restaurant.
Closest to town are the trails at Snow King (400 E. Snow King Ave., 307/733-5200 or 800/522-5464, www.snowking.com), where you can either hike up the mountain or ride the chairlift ($12) to the summit and hike back down. Once on top, you’ll find a 0.5-mile nature trail and wonderful across-the-valley views of the Tetons. Nearby is the Cache Creek Trail, which follows this pretty creek uphill for six miles along an old road that’s closed to motor vehicles. It’s a great family hike or mountain-bike ride. For an alternate loop back (four miles round-trip), turn onto the Putt-Putt Trail two miles up. Cyclists often use Cache Creek Trail to connect with Game Creek Trail for a loop around Snow King Mountain. All of the trails in the Snow King area are open to mountain bikes, and you can transport bikes on the chairlift.
Ski Lake is a more challenging hike or bike ride, with spectacular views awaiting. It starts west of Wilson on Highway 22 at Phillips Canyon. Walk up the dirt road 0.5 mile and take the left fork in the road to the start of the trail. It side-slopes around to a viewpoint and then climbs through the forest to Ski Lake, nestled high in the alpine and three miles from your starting point. The Black Canyon Overlook Trail starts from the parking area at the top of Teton Pass, 10 miles west of Jackson. It follows Pass Ridge for two miles, with an abundance of wildflower meadows and forest along the way. You can continue from here down Black Canyon to the end of Trail Creek Road at the base of the pass for a longer hike, but will need a shuttle ride back up the pass.
Snake River Canyon
The Snake River Canyon south of Jackson is best known as a river-rafting destination, but a couple of good hikes are a landlubber’s option. The Cabin Creek Trail begins 0.5 mile up a dirt road behind Cabin Creek Campground (17 miles from Jackson). The trail follows the creek uphill to a pass that is filled with late-summer wildflowers, and from here you’ll be treated to delightful views of the Snake River drainage. Return the same way, or head back downhill along the Dog Creek Trail that ends near the junction of Wilson-Fall Creek Road with U.S. Highway 89/26. Either way, it’s about six miles of hiking, but if you head back via Dog Creek Trail you’ll need a shuttle back to your car.
This beautiful valley has good hiking, a quiet out-of-the-way location, and the added bonus of a hot spring. Get here by driving south from Jackson 12 miles to Hoback Junction and then another 12 miles east on U.S. Highway 189 to the turnoff for Granite Hot Springs. The Granite Creek Falls Trail starts at the junction of Swift Creek and Granite Creek, eight miles up the road. It follows the creek upstream to impressive Granite Falls and then on to Granite Hot Springs (also accessible by road), where you can soak in the wonderful mineral pool for $6. Towel and swimsuit rentals are available. The trail is two miles long and quite easy, and there’s a campground near the springs.
For a more challenging hike, try the Shoal Falls Trail, which starts from the same trailhead eight miles up Granite Creek Road and leads five miles to an overlook near Shoal Falls. Get trail details from the Forest Service.
Teton County Parks & Recreation Department (155 E. Gill St., 307/739-9025, www.tetonwyo.org/parks) sponsors a wide range of outdoor activities in the summer, including adult day hikes. For a break from the young’uns (1st-6th grade), take them to the Camp Jackson summer day camp at Davey Jackson Elementary (200 N. Willow, 307/733-5302), available weekdays for $35 per day. You don’t need to be a local resident to take part in any of these activities, but reserve ahead because some fill up. The Parks & Rec office also rents out volleyball, horseshoe, bocce ball, and croquet sets.
Educational nature walks into the mountains around Jackson are led by The Hole Hiking Experience (307/690-4453 or 866/733-4453, www.holehike.com). Rates start at $82 adults, $65 for kids for a four-hour hike. Longer trips, including multi-night backpacking, are also available. For a free version, Grand Teton National Park offers guided walks and nature talks throughout the year.
For a different sort of guided hike, check out the excellent and free historical walking tours offered by the Jackson Hole Museum on Tuesday and Thursday.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Yellowstone & Grand Teton, 5th Edition