This 14.4-mile out-and-back probes the central Tetons, visiting the basecamp area for climbers attempting the Grand and other peaks. Your goal: Garnet Canyon, whose cliffs, winding glacial stream, and huge erratics are quintessential park features.
Your other goal: South Teton's 12,514-foot summit—fifth-highest in the range—which offers one of the park's best views attainable without a rope. This outing can be done in a big day—you'll ascend 5,800 feet—but spending a night in Garnet Canyon is worth the effort of hauling camping gear.
From Lupine Meadows trailhead, follow the Garnet Canyon Trail to the Meadows camping area. Hike through the campsites on a faint path, then climb toward the Middle Teton's prominent black dike; at the cliffs, traverse left. Follow climber trails up Garnet Canyon's south fork. Continue to the saddle between the Middle and South Tetons.
There, turn south for South Teton's Northwest Couloir, ascending it to the summit ridge. Snow can linger in the couloir into August, requiring an ice axe, but the route is generally dry by late summer. Camp either in the Meadows or Garnet's south fork zone. There's also a pair of high, secluded tent sites in the talus just before the Middle-South Teton saddle.
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
- Distance: 23.2
Location: 43.734592, -110.741587
Hike south from Lupine Meadows parking area.
Location: 43.726151, -110.756561
Keep left @ Y-junction. Switchbacks ahead.
Location: 43.726181, -110.765099
Turn hard left, heading south toward Garnet Canyon.
Location: 43.725842, -110.790451
Location: 43.729279, -110.804581
Location: 43.7244, -110.807137
Location: 43.724266, -110.818916
Great campsite on saddle.
Location: 43.718706, -110.81847
South Teton (12,514 ft.)