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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, I just prefer less.
So, I’m going to make this guide to hikes in the Tetons that are under ten miles round trip. These are great partial 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-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.
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.
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 areas below Rockchuck Peak and Mount St. John. It only takes a couple of hours. Parking is crazy here in the summer, so go early.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?