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Coal Creek-Mesquite Canyon Divide

The Grand Teton rising above distant peaks and Moose Canyon in the Teton Mountains. Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming

The Coal Creek-Mesquite Canyon Divide hike is a strenuous 3 mile (one way) hike that ascends Coal Creek Canyon in the Teton Mountains. The hike culminates on the divide where hikers are rewarded with a sweeping view of Mesquite Canyon below with upper Moose Canyon in the distance, all crowned by the Grand Teton rising above the distant mountains.

Coal Creek-Mesquite Canyon Divide Trail Description

The trail begins at the large parking area for the Coal Creek Trailhead along Highway 22, west of Teton Pass. Look for the trail on the west side of the parking area where a large kiosk shows a few trail options. Shortly after starting, a small footbridge brings you to the other side of Coal Creek where the trail then begins paralleling the creek through a mature forest.

For the most part early on, the trail is fairly easy going, with a few short steep ascents scattered throughout. Along the way there are numerous places to stop and check out Coal Creek up close for some soothing relaxation. Farther up the trail the creek isn’t quite as reliable later in the season.

The Coal Creek Trail ascending into the lower Coal Creek Meadows below fall aspen trees in the Teton Mountains. Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming

At 1 mile in you reach the lower part of Coal Creek Meadows where the landscape sprawls open between the literal Teton crest on the right and Taylor Mountain ahead and to the left. Depending on when in the season you’re hiking, you’ll either see a dazzling wildflower display or a vibrant array of fall color above in the endless aspen groves draping the mountainsides.

In another 0.2 miles you’ll reach the creek crossing, which is typically dry later in the season. From here, the trail begins a steep and strenuous climb that rarely lets up. The rewards however, come quickly and consistently as the Coal Creek Trail doesn’t disappoint!

The Coal Creek Trail in the Teton Mountains entering a golden grove of fall aspen trees. Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming

Just a short distance ahead the trail begins climbing through a lengthy stretch of the same aspens you were looking at below just prior. In the fall, the climb encourages frequent rests to fully appreciate such a spectacular aspen grove ripe with fall colors of bright yellows and oranges.

Throughout the consistent ascent you reach a short break in the trees where the massive Taylor Mountain dominates the western view. Looking back south you also begin to see more and more of the Snake River Mountains rising higher and higher.

The trail breaks out of the aspens at 1.9 miles in, entering a large meadow that climbs toward a patchy forest on the opposite side. Another meadow awaits on the other side of the trees where the only sounds are the smaller critters and a light breeze, weather permitting. The trail bobs through sporadic trees and gullies before climbing steeply through a sparse forest on the opposite side of the meadow.

Taylor Mountain in the Teton Mountains rising high above the Coal Creek Trail. Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming

Yet another meadow awaits, however this one gives you a welcome break from the endless climbing. It makes a quick and easy ascent to a small divide before dropping slightly into the upper part of Coal Creek Meadows, swooping across to the northern base of Taylor Mountain. A small creek crossing welcomes you in, and other side you begin a strenuous climb once again. The trail for the Taylor Basin connects with the trail at 2.8 miles in, while just beginning the climb out.

Small switchbacks lead you up into a small forest grove where the strong pine and spruce scent fills the air. Just beyond the trees you finally reach the Coal Creek-Mesquite Canyon Divide. Below are sprawling views of Mesquite Canyon, leading directly into Moose Canyon and all crowned by the Grand Teton popping up above the distant peaks. It’s a view that features plenty of details and remarkable natural features to stare deep down into and relax. When you’re ready head out the same way you came in.

Getting There

From Wilson, Wyoming, head west on Highway 22 for 8 miles and look on the right for the large parking lot.

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