Hiking the Teton Canyon Trail: A Journey Into Grand Teton National Park (without the crowds)
The Teton Canyon Trail, nestled in the heart of Teton Valley in Idaho, offers an unforgettable journey through one of the most scenic landscapes in the United States. Comprising two main routes – the challenging Table Mountain and the slightly more moderate Devil’s Stairs – this trail guarantees awe-inspiring views, abundant wildlife, and a hiking experience second to none.
Table Mountain: A Demanding Adventure with Rewarding Views
The more strenuous of the two trails, the Table Mountain trail is approximately an 11-mile round-trip that takes about 7 hours to complete. Beginning from the North Teton Canyon Trailhead, you will embark on a steep ascent, climbing a total of 4,151 feet in elevation. This trail is not for the faint of heart but the effort is rewarded with unparalleled vistas of the Teton Range, Idaho’s grandest mountain scape.
As you ascend, you’ll traverse through a series of stunning landscapes – dense forests of lodgepole pines, glistening creeks, and alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers in summer. As the trail gets steeper, you’ll find yourself walking along the aptly named ‘Huckleberry Hill’, a stretch known for its abundance of huckleberry bushes.
On reaching the summit, prepare yourself for a panoramic view that’s nothing short of breathtaking. Table Mountain presents a dramatic face to the Teton Range, offering views that many argue surpass those from within the neighboring Grand Teton National Park.
Remember to pack plenty of water, snacks, and wear layered clothing for this hike. It’s also advised to start early in the morning to avoid afternoon thunderstorms that are common during summer.
Devil’s Stairs: A Journey through Pristine Wilderness
For those looking for a more moderate hike, the Devil’s Stairs route is an excellent choice. Beginning from the South Teton Canyon Trailhead, this trail stretches approximately 3.9 miles to the Devil’s Stairs, taking about 4 hours to complete round-trip.
This trail, gaining 1,565 feet in elevation, offers hikers an intimate experience with the valley’s remarkable flora and fauna. As you tread along the well-marked path, you’ll be greeted by the soothing sounds of Teton Creek and the whispering breeze in the Aspen trees. Be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, including mule deer, moose, and a myriad of bird species.
The trail gets its name from a set of steep, rocky switchbacks known as the “Devil’s Stairs”. These switchbacks can be a challenge, but once conquered, they offer access to a stunning vista over the valley below and the Tetons beyond.
The Devil’s Stairs hike is perfect for a family outing or those who want a less strenuous experience. Remember to pack a picnic, plenty of water, and bear spray – you are, after all, venturing into the wild.