Grand Teton National Park: Cascade Canyon

This 14.6-mile out-and-back meanders past lodgepole pine, towering peaks, and a waterfall on its way to a backcountry campsite at the foot of the Tetons.
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This 14.6-mile out-and-back meanders past lodgepole pine, towering peaks, and a waterfall on its way to a backcountry campsite at the foot of the Tetons.

Save a weekend for this 14.6-mile backcountry trek in Grand Teton National Park. From the String Lake Trailhead, head southwest briefly to connect Jenny Lake and String Lake, then keep left at the Y-junction. The trail climbs gently through Cascade Canyon, traveling beneath Storm Point and The Jaw.

Keep your camera handy as you hike past five-star views of the towering, rugged mountains that flank each side of the trail. After 5.6 miles, the route turns north for the final 1.7-mile stretch to a North Fork Cascade campsite (you'll fall asleep to the sounds of Cascade Creek). The next day, turn around and retrace your route back to the trailhead.
Note: To turn this out-and-back into a loop, go to Paintbrush Canyon to Cascade Canyon Loop.

INFO For information on permits, current trail and camp conditions, and wilderness guidelines, go to nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/things2know.htm.

PERMIT A wilderness permit is required for all overnight camping in the backcountry. Reservations accepted ($20 administrative fee for permits during peak season). nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/back.htm

CONTACT Grand Teton National Park, (307) 739-3300; nps.gov/grte/

-Mapped by Kari Bodnarchuk

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 23.5

Waypoints

CAS001

Location: 43.784767, -110.727203

Head south from String Lake parking area.

CAS002

Location: 43.783733, -110.727669

At the String Lake Trailhead, turn right (heading southwest) and cross the wooden bridge between String and Jenny lakes.

CAS003

Location: 43.78166, -110.730686

Bear left @ Y-junction, heading south. Ahead, the dirt-packed, pine needle trail traces the edge of the sparkling Jenny Lake.

CAS004

Location: 43.768831, -110.74472

Turn right @ 3-way junction and head west on a horse trail (a quieter, lesser-used trail). Optional side trip: Continue straight @ 3-way junction for a 1-mile detour to Hidden Falls. Ahead, the path ascends through old lodgepole pine forest with scrubby underbrush.

CAS005

Location: 43.767026, -110.754365

Continue straight @ 3-way junction. Wind through an area where big glacial erratics line the trail on each side.

CAS006

Location: 43.764019, -110.759636

Maneuver and scramble around a cave formed by big boulders. Ahead: Cross a slide area next to the creek and pass through a boulder field (on the right). The sandy trail reenters the forest.

CAS007

Location: 43.76281, -110.776924

Hike past two giant glacial erratics; the serene, slow-moving creek flows by on the left. The trail weaves through pine forest and aspen groves; the gushing sounds of Cascade Creek can be heard as you hike.

CAS008

Location: 43.7645, -110.803703

Before heading back into the forest, take in the five-star views down canyon of towering, rugged mountains that flank each side of the trail. Next, continue heading west through trees draped in old man's beard (lichen); occasional views of the Tetons appear on the left through the trees.

CAS009

Location: 43.764493, -110.81686

Turn right @ Y-junction onto North Fork Cascade Canyon Trail (leave North Fork Cascade Canyon behind you). In the next mile, you'll cross a small wooden bridge with peek-a-boo views of the mountains and hike through fields of red bush. Watch for squeaking pikas and marmots.

CAS010

Location: 43.775742, -110.825401

Enter the North Fork Cascade Camping Zone. The trail continues to head north-northwest, paralleling Cascade Creek.

CAS011

Location: 43.784046, -110.830786

Turn right and leave the trail to reach a campsite in North Fork Cascade Camping Zone.

CAS012

Location: 43.784851, -110.830254

Set up camp near Cascade Creek and spend the night in the Tetons. Next day: Return to Waypoint 11 and turn left. Retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Cascade Canyon

Location: 43.764524, -110.802784

Towering Peaks

Location: 43.775618, -110.825143