15 Best Hikes in Jackson Hole: Top Trails You Don’t Want to Miss

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole

Nestled in the heart of the Teton Range, Jackson Hole offers an abundance of stunning hikes for outdoor lovers. With its picturesque landscapes, diverse wildlife, and varying terrains, this sought-after destination is nothing short of a hiker's paradise. Whether you're a seasoned trekker or just looking for a leisurely stroll through nature, Jackson Hole's diverse hiking trails have something for everyone.

One of the unique aspects of Jackson Hole hiking trails is the breathtaking views of the Teton Range and the valley. Between the towering peaks, serene lakes, and vibrant wildflower meadows, the scenery accompanying each trail leaves visitors in awe and yearning for more exploration. Moreover, the region's well-maintained trail systems cater to both day hikes and backpacking trips, providing an array of options.

As you embark on your Jackson Hole hiking adventure, keep in mind the importance of responsible recreation. While immersing yourself in the beauty of the landscape, don't forget to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural environment. With this in mind, you're all set to discover the best hikes Jackson Hole has to offer and create unforgettable memories along the way.

Why Hike in Jackson Hole

Why Hike in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole offers a wide variety of trails for hikers of all skill levels, ranging from leisurely walks to strenuous climbs. The diversity of landscapes found in the region include lush forests, tranquil alpine meadows, serene lakes, and towering peaks. This beautiful setting provides a perfect backdrop for a memorable hiking experience.

One of the highlights of hiking in Jackson Hole is the abundance of wildlife.

The area is home to numerous species, such as:
  • Elk
  • Bison
  • Moose
  • Pronghorn
  • Mule deer
  • Black bears
  • Grizzly bears
  • Mountain lions

Hikers should be aware of their surroundings and follow proper safety guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Another reason why Jackson Hole is an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts is its proximity to various national parks and forests. Adjacent to Grand Teton National Park and just a short drive away from Yellowstone National Park, hikers can explore even more breathtaking landscapes and unique ecosystems.

Grand Teton National Park: With over 200 miles of trails, hikers can enjoy stunning views of the Teton Range, glacial lakes, and dense forests.

Yellowstone National Park: Known for its geysers, hot springs, and vibrant colors, Yellowstone offers more than 900 miles of trails. They range from easy boardwalks to challenging backcountry routes.

In addition to the national parks, the Bridger-Teton National Forest provides another 3.4 million acres of pristine wilderness to explore.

Jackson Hole's well-maintained trail system is another contributing factor to its hiking appeal.

Many trails offer hikers:
  1. Clear signage
  2. Interpretive information
  3. Restroom facilities
  4. Designated camping areas

Furthermore, the hiking season in Jackson Hole typically lasts from late spring to early fall, providing ample time for outdoor enthusiasts to hit the trails. However, it's essential to monitor weather conditions and plan accordingly, as snow can remain on the trails well into the summer months.

With its diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and accessibility to national parks and forests, it's no surprise that Jackson Hole has become a sought-after destination for hikers. So grab your hiking boots, pack a backpack, and get ready to explore the breathtaking beauty of this region.

Trail Guide Essentials

Trail Guide Essentials

Download All Trails map beforehand

Before embarking on a hike in Jackson Hole, it is crucial to download an All Trails map of the area. This ensures that you have access to essential information even without internet connectivity. Here's a simple checklist:

  • Choose your preferred hiking trail
  • Download the map while online
  • Save it on your mobile device

Having an offline map to guide you prevents you from getting lost and provides insights about the trail, such as distance, elevation, and waypoints.

Bear Spray

When hiking in Jackson Hole, there's always a possibility of encountering wildlife, specifically bears. Therefore, it's important to have bear spray within reach. Here's how to properly carry and use bear spray:

  1. Purchase a spray with 1-2% capsaicin content
  2. Carry it in an easily accessible location
  3. Test to ensure the canister works before hiking
  4. Learn how to use it effectively

Remember, practicing good bear-aware habits also includes making noise, hiking in groups, and avoiding areas with recent bear sightings.

Weather Patterns

Lastly, understanding the weather patterns in Jackson Hole is vital for a safe and enjoyable hiking experience. Here are a few tips:

  • Check the forecast before you go
  • Be prepared for sudden weather changes
  • Watch for cloud build-up, which may indicate an approaching storm

Some trails may not be suitable for hiking in adverse weather conditions, so having an understanding of the area's climate helps you make more informed decisions during your adventure.

{RELATED POST: My top things to do in Yellowstone (and one day itinerary!)}

15 Best Hikes in Jackson Hole

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole

Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows

Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows
Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows

This hike is 7.4 miles and considered hard. The last climb is a bit of a scramble but so worth it!

Delta Lake, a stunning gem nestled in the heart of the Tetons, is accessed via the Lupine Meadows trailhead. This challenging hike boasts an elevation gain of 2,300 feet and offers breathtaking views of the Grand Teton and surrounding peaks. Along the trail, hikers will encounter wide open wildflower meadows, forested paths, and rushing streams.

Phelps Lake Loop

Phelps Lake Loop
Phelps Lake Loop hike

The full loop to this hike is 7 miles round trip around the lake.

Phelps Lake Loop is a popular choice for families and casual hikers, with its well-maintained 7-mile loop trail that includes the Woodland Lake Creek Trail Loop. This moderate hike provides picturesque views of Phelps Lake and glimpses of the Teton Range. Hikers can enjoy a variety of attractions such as:

Phelps Lake Loop hike
  • Hidden Falls: a large waterfall tucked away in a forested canyon
  • Jumping Rock: a perfect spot for adrenaline-seekers to plunge into Phelps Lake
  • Huckleberry Point: a tranquil area to rest and admire the lake's beauty

Taggart and Bradley Lakes

This is a great first day hike and you get to see two lakes.

The hike to Taggart and Bradley Lakes combines two stunning alpine lakes into one picturesque trail. A moderate 6-mile round trip hike with 800 feet of elevation gain, it showcases the dramatic landscapes of the Teton Range. Highlights include:

  • Taggart Lake: Crystal-clear waters surrounded by towering peaks
  • Bradley Lake: A serene, idyllic setting ideal for picnicking and relaxation

Cirque Trail at Snow King

This hike is a little under 4 miles, but you can take the bridger gondola back down.

The Cirque Trail at Snow King Mountain Resort is an excellent option for a challenging, in-town hike near Teton Village. This 3.8-mile round trip with almost 1,500-foot elevation gain starts at the summit of Rendezvous Mountain and offers panoramic views of Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton. The trail is a mixture of switchbacks, wooded terrain, and open meadows filled with wildflowers.

Death Canyon to Patrol Cabin Hike

This is a longer, moderate 9 mile hike.

For those seeking a more intense adventure, the Death Canyon hike provides a challenging 9-mile round trip journey with an elevation gain of a little over 2,000 feet. This hike will lead you through the mesmerizing Death Canyon with its cascading waterfalls and lush, green surroundings. Notable features include:

  1. Patrol Cabin: A historic structure built in the 1930s, a perfect resting point
  2. Death Canyon Shelf: An incredible vantage point overlooking the expansive valley

Goodwin Lake Trail

This is a pretty easy first day hike that is a little over 6 miles total.

Goodwin Lake is a relatively short but rewarding hike. The 6-mile round trip trail with a 1,500-foot elevation gain offers excellent views of Jackson Hole and the Gros Ventre Range. The pristine waters of Goodwin Lake are perfect for a refreshing swim after the hike.

Family-Friendly Trails

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole

Jenny Lake

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole
Jenny Lake

This area has many different lengths of hikes ranging from under 2 miles up to 7.5 miles.

The Jenny Lake trails are a fantastic option for families seeking a gentle hike with picturesque views. There are a few different hiking options, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature without too much difficulty. Keep an eye out for wildlife like moose and bears along the way.

Cache Creek Sidewalk Trail

This is an easy, short hike that is great for kids.

For a shorter and easier option, the Cache Creek Sidewalk Trail is a great choice. Following a paved path, this under 2-mile loop offers a mix of woodland and meadow environments. It's perfect for families with young kids or strollers.

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: under 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Nelson Knoll

This is an easy half mile hike to do with kids.

Nelson Knoll provides a quick and rewarding hike with stunning views of the valley at the top. The 0.5-mile trail gains 200 feet in elevation, making it an easy hike suitable for kids and families.

  • Distance: 0.5 miles
  • Elevation gain: 200 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Sink or Swim Short Loop

This hike is under 2 miles and can be completed different ways. 

The Sink or Swim Short Loop is a short trail that winds through beautiful aspen groves and offers a great hike for families. It's an excellent choice for those seeking a slightly more challenging option while still remaining family-friendly. You can even go across at the top and grab ice cream at Snow King!

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: under 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

These hikes ensure that visitors of all ages will enjoy their time exploring Jackson Hole's beautiful landscapes. Choose one or a few of these trails to make your trip to Jackson Hole a memorable experience for the whole family.

Bonus Hikes for If You Have More Time

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole

If you have more time on your trip or are looking for new, challenging hikes in Jackson, this section is perfect for you. These hikes are harder and longer than the average trails, offering unique experiences and fantastic views.

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes

This hard hike is a little under 10 miles and on the same trailhead as Delta Lupine.

Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes are two alpine gems nestled high in the Tetons. The trail to both lakes is 9.3 miles round trip and gains about 2,950 feet in elevation. The hike is rated as strenuous, so prepare for a tough, rewarding day. Along the way, enjoy stunning views of the surrounding Tetons and the chance to spot some local wildlife.

Cascade Canyon

This hike is moderate but long, sitting at right over 9 miles. 

Cascade Canyon is a breathtakingly beautiful destination for hikers who are up for a more extended adventure. The hike is 9.1 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of 1,100 feet. Its moderate difficulty makes it an excellent challenge for intermediate hikers. On your journey, you will meander along the rushing Cascade Creek, spot mountain goats, and enjoy views of the towering Grand Teton.

Lake of the Crags

This 5 mile hike is challenging but you can take the boat across Jenny Lake to shorten it.

Lake of the Crags is a hidden gem within the Teton Range. The hike is approximately 5 miles round trip and has an elevation gain of a little under 3,000 feet. This challenging trail includes some scrambling and route-finding, so it's better suited to more experienced hikers. Upon reaching the lake, enjoy the pristine alpine beauty and stunning views of the surrounding peaks.

Ski Lake

This is a 5 mile moderate hike.

Ski Lake is a favorite among local hikers. On this 5-mile round trip with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet, you'll find picturesque meadows and a tranquil alpine lake. The hike is rated as moderate, so it's suitable for those with some hiking experience under their belts. The trail takes you through beautiful wildflower meadows and lush forests before arriving at the idyllic lake for a well-deserved break.

Jackson Peak

This challenging hike is a little over 10 miles.

For a spectacular view of the Teton Range, Jackson Peak is an excellent choice. This challenging hike is 10.3 miles round trip and features an elevation gain of 2,600 feet. Jackson Peak offers hikers a unique opportunity to summit a peak without relying on technical climbing skills. On a clear day, the views of the Tetons make the effort worthwhile.

Post-Hike Activities in Jackson Hole

After a day of hiking in the beautiful Jackson Hole area, you might be looking for a variety of ways to relax and enjoy the rest of your day. Whether you're a foodie, a beer enthusiast, or simply looking for some local flavor, downtown Jackson Hole has something for everyone. In this section, we'll highlight some popular post-hike activities, focusing on restaurants as well as bars and breweries.

Restaurants and Eateries

Post-Hike Activities in Jackson Hole
Post-Hike Activities in Jackson Hole

Below is a list of highly recommended restaurants in Jackson Hole where you can sate your post-hike hunger with some local cuisine:

  1. New York City Sub Shop - A casual spot with delicious sandwiches, this is a great place to go before or after a hike!
  2. The Blue Lion - A cozy spot offering a variety of dishes, including fresh seafood and tender steaks. Don't miss their signature raspberry-infused elk tenderloin!
  3. Persephone Bakery - For a lighter option, this bakery and café serve up delightful sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as exquisite French pastries.
  4. Teton Thai - Offering authentic Thai cuisine with customizable spice levels, this hidden gem will help you refuel with delicious noodles, rice dishes, and curries.
  5. Yeah Buddy Pizza - If you're craving Italian, Yeah Buddy Pizza serves a fantastic array of Neapolitan-style pizzas baked in a stone oven.

Breweries and Bars

Best Hikes in Jackson Hole | Jackson Hole bars

Once you've satisfied your hunger, it's time to relax with a cold beverage. Here are a few standout establishments where you can enjoy local craft beers and/or expertly-prepared cocktails:

  • Dornan's: A little outside of Jackson, Dornan's is the perfect spot to stop for drinks on your way back from your hike! They have huge windows (pictured above) behind the bar as well as rooftop seating, so you can take in the mighty Tetons while enjoying a drink or pizza. 
  • Snake River Brewing: As Jackson Hole's oldest brewery, Snake River offers an excellent selection of award-winning beers in a laid-back atmosphere. They also have a food menu if you're eager to pair your pint with a tasty bite.
  • Roadhouse Brewing Co: This brewery boasts a wide selection of beers, from classic ales and lagers to inventive seasonals and barrel-aged creations. Their taproom provides the perfect setting to wind down after a hike and enjoy good company.
  • The Rose: For a more upscale experience, The Rose offers a sophisticated cocktail menu, featuring both classic concoctions and innovative house creations. Its intimate ambiance and stylish décor make it a great choice for unwinding in style.

Whether it's satisfying your cravings at a local restaurant or sipping on a well-deserved beverage at a brewery or bar, Jackson Hole provides plenty of options to help you recharge and unwind after an invigorating day on the trails.

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