"With all due respect to the John Muir Trail, the Teton Crest will forever be my all-time favorite. Its combination of constant, incredible scenery, great campsites, abundant wildlife, and accessibility for all types of backpackers is simply unmatched," declares Northwest Editor Michael Lanza. Rarely dipping below 8,000 feet, this high route crosses tundra bejeweled with paintbrush and larkspur, offers mesmerizing and constant views of jagged peaks, and lets you camp with center-balcony views of everything–the perch on Death Canyon Shelf will make you want to homestead right there.
The full route links Teton Pass on WY 22 to String Lake in Grand Teton National Park, but other approaches are also popular. Take the Teton Village tram and hike to Marion Lake to pick up the trail at mile 10 and save 2,500 feet of climbing, or start at the Coal Creek or Moose Creek trailheads. Hiking south to north includes more elevation gain, but saves the best views for last: From Teton Pass, hike to 9,650-foot Fox Creek Pass and cross Death Canyon Shelf with its full-frontal scenes of the Grand Teton. Scale Hurricane Pass, visit stunning Lake Solitude, then descend via Paintbrush Canyon.
Shuttle Teton Taxi ($75 for two, 307-733-1506)
Permit $25; apply between January 5 and May 15 for the following summer, or nab first-come, first-serve the day before.
Map Earthwalk Press Grand Teton Hiking Map ($10, boredfeet.com)
Contact (307) 739-3343; nps.gov/grte
Trip ID 406836