Grand Teton National Park: Southern Tetons

The range's best-kept secret harbors big, open mountain terrain.
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The range's best-kept secret harbors big, open mountain terrain.

First-timers in the Tetons naturally gravitate to the tall peaks around the Grand. But veterans return time and again to the sprawling high country between Fox Creek Pass and WY 22. The scenery comes straight out of an old Western: big, forested canyons flanked by cliffs stretching for miles; wildflower-filled meadows; peaks hardly touched by boots; and less severe terrain than the picture-book Tetons—which means off-trail opportunities abound. The mountain views are almost constant, moose are abundant, and there's hardly anyone out there. The author's roughly 24-mile route (including side trips) was done in spring on skis and is partly off-trail, but you could parallel it almost entirely on trails.

From WY 22, follow the Phillips Pass/Teton Crest Trail for 3.9 miles to Phillips Pass. Climb east off-trail to the open crest of the ridge running southwest from Rendezvous Peak, which has an amazing 360-degree view. Continue north over Point 9815 and follow the Teton Crest Trail to Marion Lake. From there, spend a day exploring the high plateau around the striking pinnacle of Spearhead Peak and Fox Creek Pass before descending the cliff-walled defile of Granite Canyon on its namesake trail.

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 Michael Lanza

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 41.6

Waypoints

WPT001

Location: 43.505592, -110.926704

Trailhead next to WY 22.

WPT002

Location: 43.511341, -110.918587

Bear left, heading north.

WPT003

Location: 43.54845, -110.931702

Head northeast from Phillips Pass.

WPT004

Location: 43.554691, -110.921211

Turn left and hike northwest.

WPT005

Location: 43.558033, -110.925247

360-degree views are revealed from this unnamed summit. Continue north.

WPT006

Location: 43.627571, -110.926933

Turn right, heading southeast.

WPT007

Location: 43.625477, -110.920662

Turn right, heading south.

WPT008

Location: 43.618698, -110.910881

Natural bridge

WPT009

Location: 43.617397, -110.81398

Continue straight (south).

WPT010

Location: 43.616512, -110.813309

Bear left; continue heading south.

WPT011

Location: 43.60733, -110.792847

Granite Canyon Trailhead

SPE001

Location: 43.638515, -110.915131

Pass below Spearhead Peak.

SPE002

Location: 43.630615, -110.902824

Scramble up break in cliff band.

SPE003

Location: 43.630375, -110.90284

360-degree views from ridge crest.