Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a stunning hiking paradise, with plenty of its outstanding hikes found within Grand Teton National Park. Yet there are plenty of hikes outside of the park that also offer great adventure and remarkable beauty. Below is a list of my favorite hikes that don’t involve a visit to the park, ordered from easiest to hardest.
The Cache Creek Trail is a staple of the Jackson Hole community. While you could potentially hike for dozens of miles beginning from the trailhead, most of its use is within the first few miles. It’s a popular spot for both locals and tourists who are both heading out on larger adventures, or just looking to get a quick hike in, but still be in a natural setting. Its popularity is partly due from its namesake creek that rushes by the trail. Likewise, there are many other connecting trails that allow for different options on each visit. The best part is that it’s accessible year-round, so it also makes a great winter destination as well!
The trail for Mount Elly begins at the top of Teton Pass along Highway 22. An enjoyable and relaxed 2 mile (one way) hike guides you through forest and meadow and ultimately to the peak of Mount Elly. A subtle peak in the Snake River Mountains, the view from the summit nevertheless offers incredible views of the Jackson Hole valley. Though the last 0.1 miles is technically an unmaintained trail, it’s been traveled so much it’s still hard to miss. It’s definitely worth the stop for those traveling to or from the west looking to get in a quick but rewarding hike.
Located in Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, the Wildflower Trail climbs nearly 2,800 feet in about 4 miles. Numerous switchbacks guide you up the mountain through stunning displays of, naturally, wildflowers. Throughout the hike are stunning views of Jackson Hole and the Gros Ventre Mountains in the distance. Beginning at the Jackson Hole Tram, the trail culminates at the top of the Bridger Gondola. From here you have the option to continue climbing up another connecting trail, or take the gondola back down.
Snow King Summit
Known affectionately as, the “town hill,” Snow King features numerous trail options, but none quite so infamous as its summit trail. With a relentless elevation gain of about 1,600 feet over the course of its 2 mile ascent, it leaves locals and visitors alike gasping for air. Despite the climb, the view from the top is a well-earned reward. Panoramic views from the summit await as the valley of Jackson Hole sprawls out northward. The Tetons, likewise, dominate the western horizon in jaw-dropping fashion. As a bonus, you can catch the gondola down if you want to save a little time. Similarly, expected to be completed in the fall of 2023 is both a new restaurant as well as an observatory and planetarium, both great ways to relax after a grueling climb! Note that with the ongoing construction, the summit trail will be different than what’s linked. I’ll have an updated route as soon as possible.
Likely the most sought-after on this list, Jackson Peak packs in an adventurous punch into the Gros Ventre Wilderness. As one of the two prominent eastern peaks to the valley of Jackson Hole, it rises up over 10,700 feet above sea level, providing 360 panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. At about 5.25 miles one way, it makes for an epic day-hike for the adventurous. Note, however, that the Bridger-Teton National Forest Service is considering moving the trailhead 1 mile back due to deteriorating road conditions, a move that could come in the next couple of years, as of this writing.
While this is by no means a complete list of hikes in the Jackson Hole area, they are certainly some of the more popular ones, and for good reason. Be sure to keep exploring and get outside!