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When I visited Grand Teton National Park in the summer I won’t lie, I didn’t love it. It was sooo busy and we didn’t do too much hiking. However, after working there the following winter, I fell in love with the park and find myself thinking about it more often than not.
I’m dying to go back in the warmer months again to do more hiking, but, in case you haven’t noticed, I tend to prefer shorter hikes. I don’t mean one half mile hike a day, I mean definitely under ten miles if it can be helped. I won’t say no to every 10+ mile hike, but you won’t find me on many of those.
So, I’m going to make this guide to the best hikes in Grand Teton that are under ten miles round trip. These are great day hikes throughout the park taking you through meadows, to alpine lakes, showing stellar mountain views. You can find the entire list of hikes in the Tetons here. A couple things to note: this is a summer hiking guide, all mileage is round-trip, and none of the pictures are particularly relevant, I just love them. They are all in the Tetons though. I will be starting at the south end of the park and working my way up.
Where to stay in Jackson
There are tons of hotels to choose from in Jackson for all budgets. This is the best place to stay if you plan on doing lots of hikes in Grand Teton. It’s the closest to the park without camping in it and has tons of other things to do to keep you busy. There are so many nice and cute hotels in Jackson, it’s crazy. I’ve picked a few of my favorites, but you can check prices for more here. I haven’t stayed at all of these, but these are all ones I would stay at.
I LOVE the Rustic. Like, so much. I’ve stayed there a few times and would 100% stay again. It’s beautiful in a wonderful location not too far from the town square. It’s not particularly budget-friendly, but it is amazing.
This is another really fancy, not budget-friendly hotel, but The Wort is even closer to the town square. This has a modern log cabin vibe in a gorgeous building. This is a place I would definitely be willing to splurge on for a night or two.
This little Inn is a couple miles from the town square, but it’s right across from the National Elk Refuge and all the rooms have a view. It’s decently priced and probably totally worth it for the view.
I haven’t stayed here but know it’s a great budget option right in town. It has rustic-looking cabin themed rooms and it’s perfect for walking around the town square.
Camping in Grand Teton National Park
There are six campgrounds in Grand Teton National Park varying in size and offerings. Most are only open in the summer, but Colter Bay is open year-round. You can find all of the details on this page. None of them accept reservations, so get there early if you want a spot, no matter which campground you choose.
Gros Ventre Campground
We stayed here on our first visit and I liked it. It is the biggest campground in the park with 300 spots. It’s closer to Jackson, so if you plan on going into town to eat, this is a good option. It’s also your best chance of getting a spot. 36 of these spots have electric hookups.
Jenny Lake Campground
The Jenny Lake Campground has 59 spots and is just a few hundred yards from the shore of the gorgeous and sprawling Jenny Lake. None of these have electric hookups and they are all tent-only spots.
Signal Mountain Campground
You’ll find this campground by Signal Mountain Lodge with wonderful views of Mount Moran and the northern Teton Range. There are 81 sites and 25 of them have electrical hookups.
Lizard Creek Campground
This campground is just 11 miles outside of Yellowstone and eight miles north of Colter Bay Village. It’s a more remote campground on the shore of Jackson Lake with 60 spots, none with hookups available.
Colter Bay Campground
While it says Gros Ventre Campground is the biggest, this one has 346 spaces, 13 with hookups. This isn’t right on the shore of Jackson Lake, but it is right by Colter Bay Village with a great view of Mount Moran just a short walk away. There is also the Colter Bay RV park with 112 RV only spaces. These all have hookups.
Headwaters Campground and RV Park
This campground has 131 sites, 97 of which are RV only with hookups. It’s by Flagg Ranch, which is two miles south of Yellowstone and five miles north of Grand Teton.
What to Bring Camping in Grand Teton National Park
Bear Spray – If you’re visiting in summer, definitely bring bear spray. You’ll want to have this on you when you’re out hiking and on the trails. We usually carried it around in winter, too, just because it gave me peace of mind. Also, this is used like pepper spray for bears, not like bug spray. And do not spray it indoors. Read more about bear safety here.
Hiking poles – These will be helpful on longer hikes that are on the steeper side. They’ll be good if you have bad knees for when you’re going downhill and will give you something to lean on going up the hills.
Snacks – These are more important for long hikes, but you never know when you’ll get hungry! I like EPIC bars (kind of like beef jerky but different), Sahale nut mix things, and Moon Cheese. There’s always the good old Clif Bars and trail mix, too.
Sleeping pad – Gotta make the tent comfy! The one I have isn’t available anymore but this one is similar. It’s self-inflating and just needs a little help filling all the way. Buy the sleeping pad here.
Pillow – If you’re just driving, I’d just bring a regular pillow, but if you’re flying then renting a car, you might want a smaller pillow. This is a good non-inflatible option. Here is a good inflatable option.
Lantern – I love having a lantern for in the tent at night, reading in the dark, or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. The LuminAID is my favorite and you can charge your phone on it. Buy the LuminAID lantern here.
What to bring if you visit in the winter
Hand and toe warmers – If you don’t want to get thicker gloves, bring some hand warmers. If your feet get really cold really easily, definitely bring toe warmers. They’re a game-changer. Buy hand warmers here.
Cozy Sweatshirt – I have a few different Patagonia sweatshirts and love them all. They’re great for layering in cold weather. I have two Re-tools, a Better Sweater, and a Synchilla. Sometimes you can find them on sale on REI or Backcountry. I also like to keep an eye out for them on Poshmark (use code REDAROUNDWORLD for $10 off your first purchase) and Mercari (you can save $10 with that link as well!) I’ve found some really good deals on both.
Long sleeve shirt – I just have one that’s like Underarmour but not. I think I found it at TJ Maxx. I also just like these from Parks Project.
The Best Time to Visit Grand Teton National Park
I don’t think there is a bad time to visit the Tetons, but if you want to do a lot of hiking, definitely go in the summer or fall. Even though it will be busiest then, it’s really the only time you can do a lot of these hikes. I love the park so much in the winter, but the inner park road is closed so you can only get around by snowshoe or cross country ski.
There are definitely more options of things to do in the park other than hiking in the summer. I saw more wildlife in the winter, though. So, what you want to do and see can help you decide when to go, but for hiking, stick to summer or fall.
Now for the best hikes in Grand Teton
I haven’t been able to do most of these hikes, but once I go back and start to do them, I will come back and update this as much as possible. Make sure you go prepared for changing weather and let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
The first hike is along the main highway, not the scenic drive, and that’s why it’s going first even though it’s farther north than others. The drive is still scenic, but you don’t have to go through the park fee booth for this one. And I’d say it’s more of a short walk than a hike. This is the 0.8-mile hike to Cunningham Cabin. It’s an easy to follow trail (not paved) taking you to the Cunningham Cabin with the stunning Tetons behind it. The cabin is empty, but you can go in to check it out. This is a quick stop and takes less than an hour.
This is a 5.8-mile moderate loop clocking in at about three hours to complete. This takes you through aspen groves and boulder fields to the shore of Phelps Lake. You’ll also hike through wetlands and sagebrush meadows before meeting up with Lake Creek.
Phelps Lake Trail Loop
Next up is the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve area. The Phelps Lake Trail Loop is the longest around here at 6.3 miles with 600 feet of elevation gain. This trail is a loop around Phelps Lake and offers fantastic Teton views. It’s a moderate hike taking about four hours. It’s the perfect morning or afternoon hike in the Tetons.
Death Canyon-Static Peak Trail Junction
The Death Canyon area on Moose-Wilson Road is next. The first, and longest, trail here is the Death Canyon-Static Peak Trail Junction. Enjoy wildflower fields, lakes, and waterfalls.
Lake Creek-Woodland Trail Loop
This is the easiest and shortest hike leaving from the Rockefeller Preserve. It is 3 miles with 300 feet of elevation gain taking you along Lake Creek before ending up at the shore of Phelps Lake. If you’re short on time, this is perfect.
Phelps Lake Overlook and Phelps Lake
The Phelps Lake Overlook is a 2-mile trail that takes you, obviously, to the Phelps Lake Overlook. It’s a moderate hike taking about 1.5 hours. It can be combined with the Phelps Lake trail making it a 4.2-mile strenuous hike. This trail climbs to the overlook and descends to the shores of Phelps Lake. It is a strenuous hike since you have to hike back up to the overlook from the lake.
This is a super quick and easy half-mile hike to tour a historic homestead and visit the Chapel of Transfiguration. This is just inside the fee booth on the scenic drive. The Chapel is a small log cabin with a picturesque view of the Tetons from inside and out.
Taggart Lake-Beaver Creek Loop
This 3.9-mile moderate loop climbs the glacial moraine to Taggart Lake and returns along Beaver Creek. The other hike here is just to Taggart Lake and is an easy three miles. Instead of hiking out along Beaver Creek, hike back out the way you went in. You’ll pass sagebrush flats and hike through forests.
Taggart Lake-Bradley Lake
The Taggart Lake area is home to three moderate and easy trail from three to six miles. First up is the Taggart Lake-Bradley Lake hike at 5.9 moderate miles. This loop takes you to two lakes dammed by glacial moraines.
Garnet Canyon is a strenuous 8.4 miles in the Lupine Meadows area. It takes about six hours and climbs into Garnet Canyon while offering wonderful views of Middle Teton.
String Lake Loop
This is a nice, easy 3.7-mile loop taking you around String Lake. This is near Jenny Lake. It takes you through a burned area below Rockchuck Peak and Mount St. John. It only takes a couple of hours. Parking is crazy here in the summer, so go early.
Two Ocean Lake
There are three hikes near Two Ocean Lake, but this is the only one under ten miles. It is 6.4 miles and moderate, taking about three hours. It’s a nice loop around the lake taking you through forests and meadows. This is at the north end of the park, closer to Yellowstone.
Signal Mountain is a moderate 6.8-mile loop that takes about four hours. This trail leaves from the Signal Mountain Lodge and is great in late June/early July when the wildflowers are in bloom. No matter when you go, you’ll be rewarded with great views.
Forks of Cascade Canyon
Ok, technically this hike is 14.6 miles, but if you take the shuttle boat, it’s only 8.8. I decided to include it for that reason and because I know it’s one of the must-see things in Grand Teton National Park. This is a popular moderate-strenuous trail taking you into the stunning Cascade Canyon. You’ll have great views of Grand Teton, Mt. Owen, and Teewinot.
See this post for more hikes in the Jenny Lake area.
Just past the shores of Jenny Lake you’ll find one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Hidden Falls is a 2.8-mile hike unless you take the shuttle boat, then it’s one mile. You will get to enjoy the 200-foot waterfall. This is a very popular and busy trail.
The longest trail around this area is the Hermitage Point trail. It is 9.7 miles and rated easy-moderate. It will take you through forests, meadows, and wetlands over about five hours. The wetlands are a great wildlife habitat, so keep your eyes peeled.
See this post for more hikes near Jackson Lake and Colter Bay.
The Jackson Lake area doesn’t have as many hikes as Jenny Lake, but it still has some great ones. One is the simple Lakeshore Trail. This is an easy, two-mile trail following the Colter Bay shoreline with views of Jackson Lake and the Tetons.
Flagg Ranch is just outside of Yellowstone, making it the farthest north part of the park and the perfect option if you’re on your way to Yellowstone. This easy 4-mile hike into Flagg Canyon offers great views of the Snake River and is easily accessed from the northeast side of Polecat Creek Loop.
Polecat Creek Loop
This 2.5-mile loop only takes about an hour. The west side of the loop is above a marsh making it a great place to see waterfowl and other wildlife. If you’re visiting in the winter, you can go snowshoeing here! This is the trail we were on for a while.
These are some of the best short hikes in the Tetons that can all be done easily in a day. Well, not all in one day, but none should take more than eight hours unless you spend a lot of time hanging out or taking pictures. Just make sure you have enough daylight to get there and back and remember to be bear aware, but mostly, enjoy!
Tips for hiking in the Tetons:
- There are bears here, so carry bear spray and keep an eye out for them. Keep your distance if you do run into one.
- Don’t forget, you’re at a pretty high elevation here, so take breaks if you need to and don’t push yourself too hard.
- It gets crazy busy here in the summer, so make sure you get out there early to get parking and see fewer people on the trails. Parking is really hard to find in the middle of the day, especially in the Jenny Lake/String Lake area.
- Wear good hiking shoes. I was fine in my Chacos and always hike in them, but I don’t usually hike more than ten miles. Hiking boots may be a good idea for longer, more rugged trails.
- Bring lots of water and salty snacks for the trail.
Have you done any of these hikes? Which ones? What did you think of them?