30 mi (48km)
Escape the crowds, not the beauty
The youngest mountain range in the Rockies, only 6-9 million years old, the Grand Tetons are some of the most photogenic and iconic mountains on the planet. Their awe striking beauty makes the park one of the most visited in the nation, in 2016 over 4.8 million people went and saw. As backpackers, those kinds of figures make us cringe but lucky for us, the lazy American stereotype still holds true. And if you hike the Southern Tetons loop, very few people are seen in the backcountry.
Beginning on the shores of Phelps lake, the aptly named Death Canyon Trailhead will start your hike. Quickly leaving the serene valley, the hike climbs into high altitude terrain, showing off the backdoor of the Grand Tetons. Rocky spires will take your breath away and the pristine rivers and lakes offer hours of enchantment. Native Americans used this region for spirit quests, to the Shoshones, this mountain range is a holy place.
Every bit as beautiful, this shorter loop does not receive the same amount of traffic as some of the longer trails. Offering a more intimate experience in the park, this trail is ideal for experienced and novice hikers alike looking to take on some slick and twisted trails.
When to go
Best time to go is early Spring through Autumn. Winter snows will make most of the hiking impassible and the roads will be closed.
43 minutes north of Jackson, take US 191 N, it becomes 89 N, then 26 N, take a left at Teton Park Rd and follow Moose Wilson Rd. to the trail head.
Know before you go
- Grizzly country, bear approved canisters are mandatory.
- High elevations will leave you exposed to extreme thunderstorms
- Permits are required for the hike and can be found here.
For more information:
- A great resource for hiking anywhere in the Grand Tetons (including the South Tetons).