Mary’s Nipple and Peak 9943 are perfect if you’ve ever wanted to climb a peak in the Tetons, but didn’t want to go more than a few miles. The top of the Dreamcatcher Lift at Grand Targhee provides access to a trail that brings you to Mary’s Saddle, where you have the option to climb both peaks from there. The trailhead can be accessed by either taking the Dreamcatcher Lift up, or by hiking up the Bannock Trail.
Mary’s Nipple Trail Description
From the top of the Dreamcatcher Lift, head north (left) down the dirt road and at the communications tower a short distance down, look for another dirt road that cuts back to the south. Continue following the dirt road below the lift and downward to a beautiful view of the Grand Teton rising from beyond the nearby mountains. The road maintains its descent, but soon intersects with a mountain bike junction. Take a left at the junction, marked with an emergency call box. On the other side of the junction, you’ll see a sign indicating Mary’s Saddle heading up the ridge. Follow that up its steep ascent through the firs and evergreens.
As the trees begin to fade, the trail levels off. You’ll notice that Mary’s Saddle is now just ahead. The trail veers just east of the actual saddle and as soon as it’s finished its ascent (for the time being), you’ll see a carsonite sign indicating that you’ll now be entering the Jedediah Smith Wilderness. It’s here that you’re presented with the option to ascend Mary’s Nipple, now 300 feet right above you. Keep in mind though that this is not an official trail. The ascent up Mary’s Nipple is steep, rocky, and full of loose rocks. Ascend at your own risk. Also, if you think it looks steep going up, keep in mind you’ll also have to come back down and those with a fear of heights could find themselves feeling very uncomfortable. That being said, the view from the top is incredibly beautiful and highly recommended if you’re already right there. Look for the often faded trail to follow the southwest ridge up the peak.
Peak 9943 Trail Description
If you choose to skip Mary’s Nipple, the ascent up to Peak 9943 is a more standard trail. Continue following the trail eastward where you’ll wind around the south side of Mary’s Nipple. It will then make a steady ascent higher as you begin to near the summit. Huge views open up to the north and south as the trees give way to alpine tundra. To the south you can look straight up Teton Canyon as it winds around Table Mountain. To the north, the northern Tetons stretch out to the horizon where you can even see the western side of the Yellowstone Plateau. In the east, the trail continues rising up a rocky ledge before terminating at a large dropoff. The Cathedral Group of Tetons now dominates the eastern horizon while an explosive view expands below and around you. Enjoy the view, then head back the same way you came.
From Driggs, Idaho, follow Ski Hill Road east for nearly 12 miles where it will dead-end at the Grand Targhee Ski Resort parking area. Head toward the Dreamcatcher Lift and either take that to the top, or follow the Bannock Trail for 3 miles to reach the start of the Mary’s Saddle Trail.