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Grand Teton’s High Adventure Trail

Some people head to Wyoming to summit the Tetons. But outdoor legend Paul Petzoldt had a better idea: Create a route for foot travelers along the spine of the great range.

Expedition Planner

Paul Petzoldt’s High Adventure Trail

The route: Petzoldt’s High Adventure Trail traverses the Teton Range for 67.5 miles, linking existing trails and involving short sections of sometimes-difficult cross-country travel. It runs from WY 22 west of Jackson north to the Lake of the Woods on Reclamation Road (also known as Ashton-Flagg Ranch Road), a seasonal gravel road linking Ashton, Idaho, with the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway north of Grand Teton National Park. Numerous side trails access Petzoldt’s route from the east and west sides of the range.

Hiking northbound, begin on the Phillips Pass Trail on Teton Pass Road (WY 22), a mile east of Teton Pass. Hike about 4 miles to Phillips Pass and the Teton Crest Trail, which winds northward about 18 miles to Hurricane Pass. From the pass, the Petzoldt route, swings west, descending an unofficial but obvious trail through several switchbacks down the headwall of the valley of Roaring Creek. Less than a quarter-mile below Hurricane Pass, turn northward and walk cross-country toward Table Mountain. In a mile, the talus becomes steeper on Table’s south slope; a vegetated gully on the left side of that slope provides the easiest route up. On the more gentle shoulder of Table Mountain, intersect Table Mountain Trail No. 24 and follow it to the summit.

Double back, descending Table Mountain Trail about 5 miles into the North Fork of Teton Creek Canyon. Turn north onto Beard’s Wheatfield Trail No. 23, following it 4.5 miles to South Leigh Trail No. 21. Turn east and hike about 4 miles to Granite Basin Lakes; there, pick up another section of the Teton Crest Trail (detached from the trail of the same name in the national park). The Teton Crest Trail snakes another 26 miles northward through Dead Horse Pass, Nord Pass, Conant Pass, and Jackass Pass, although sections are rough and difficult to follow, and there is a gap of less than 2 miles between Red Creek and Conant Pass where open terrain allows easy cross-country hiking and route-finding.

The Teton Crest Trail ends at a junction with the South Boone Trail No. 3 and Middle Boone Trail No. 29. Petzoldt’s route takes the Middle Boone for another mile, to just beyond a crossing of a tributary of South Boone Creek, then cuts cross-country northward about 3 miles to the Lake of the Woods on Reclamation Road. If you’d rather avoid the poorly maintained Middle Boone Trail and bushwhacking, hike west on the more scenic and better-maintained South Boone Trail to the dirt Jackass Road, which is off Reclamation Road just east of Ashton.

Season: July to September.

Permits: Required within Grand Teton National Park. One-third of backcountry permits for any given night are available for advance reservations ($15); the rest are first come, first served (free). But only about 7 miles of Petzoldt’s route are actually within the park. It’s possible to hike the route camping only in the Targhee National Forest, though Death Canyon Shelf may be the most scenic campsite.

Guides: I used the Grand Teton National Park map (Earthwalk Press, 800-828-6277; $7.95), though you could also re-create the High Adventure Trail using the Trails Illustrated map (#202) of the same name (800-962-1643; www.trailsillustrated.com; $9.95).

Contact: Targhee National Forest (Jedediah Smith Wilderness), Ashton Ranger District, (208) 652-7442. Grand Teton National Park, (307) 739-3300.

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