Distance: 6.5 miles (one way)
Type: Out and back/Loop
The descent to Marion Lake from the Jackson Hole Tram is a strenuous 6.5 mile hike, quickly crossing from Bridger-Teton National Forest into Grand Teton National Park. Many use the route as quick access to the Teton Crest Trail, or to visit the lake on the way down Granite Canyon to complete a loop.
Jackson Hole Tram to Marion Lake Trail Description
From the Jackson Hole Tram, descend past Corbit’s Cabin on a wide exposed trail straddling the ridgeline of Rendezvous Mountain. You’ll quickly connect with the Rock Springs Trail, continuing to follow that down until you reach another junction pointing you right toward Granite Canyon at 0.6 miles in. At this point, the trail becomes more wooded as you descend into treeline, populated by small evergreens that gradually get larger as you continue to descend.
Through the descent, the upper elevations of Granite Canyon are visible below. A switchback cuts back and heads toward the back of the small side canyon you’re hiking through. Upon reaching the back of the canyon, the trees open up where you’ll cross to the opposite side of the canyon before beginning an ascent up an exposed and steep mountainside. In the right time of season, this part of the trail will be carpeted with colorful wildflowers of numerous varieties. You’ll pass through some sparse trees, then you’ll pass through a large switchback offering stunning views down Granite Canyon.
Once around the switchback, the trail begins to descend once again, this time through an older and denser forest, the upper elevations of Granite Canyon visible through the trees. After a couple of switchbacks, you’ll reach the Middle Fork Camping Zone where the trees will soon thin out as the trail also levels out. You’ll cross a series of seasonal streams as the forest thins slightly as you begin to descend through large subalpine meadows. Fingers of forests break up the meadows here and there as it winds up and over small hill through the terrain. You’ll make one last climb to the junction with the Middle Fork Cutoff at 3.6 miles in. Head left to continue to Marion Lake.
The Middle Fork Cutoff Trail maintains similar terrain as the approach to the junction, climbing steadily before connecting with the Teton Crest Trail at 4.3 miles in. Once on the Teton Crest Trail, you’ll begin another descent as you approach the Middle Fork of Granite Canyon, a consistently reliable water source. Terrific views of the terrain teetering the treeline accompany the crossing of the Middle Fork as you begin a steep ascent from the creek.
A few switchbacks and a grueling ascent bring you to a crest high above the Middle Fork and the primary Granite Canyon Creek, where panoramic views both down and up the Teton Crest Trail await where you’ll also pass the junction for the Game Creek Pass Trail at 5.3 miles in. Continue straight where you’ll encounter a lush wildflower-filled meadow descending toward Granite Creek. The trail will weave in and out of the trees all while maintaining a steep descent. As you drop deeper into the forest, you’ll connect with the Granite Canyon Trail at 5.8 miles.
Just past the junction, the trail makes a steep ascent up an open hillside after crossing Granite Creek, taking advantage of a couple of switchbacks. Occasional trees break up both the climb and the exposure where you’ll cross another creek before making another steep climb up another open hillside. As you ascend higher, stunning views down into Granite Canyon open up to encourage a break here and there to catch your breath. The trail then cuts back toward Marion Lake, making a quick descent to a small creek, where it will then make the final climb to the lake. Pass through some large boulders and a few evergreens to crest a small ridge where the sparkling blue waters of Marion Lake wait below. If you’ve got a permit to camp, look for the campground a short distance ahead and to the right, directed by the signs. To get back to Teton Village, you can either head back out the same way you hiked in, or take Granite Canyon down to the Valley Trail.
From Teton Village, head to the Jackson Hole Tram, acquire a pass up, and board the tram.