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Mount Elly

The valley of Jackson Hole sprawled out below the summit of Mount Elly in the Snake River Mountains. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Mount Elly is an easily accessible peak in the northern Snake River Mountain Range, topping out at 9,262 feet above sea level. The hike to the summit is relatively easy, beginning along Highway 22 at Teton Pass at 8,424 feet above sea level, leaving only 800 feet to gain over 2 miles (one way). The hike itself is a beautifully rewarding hike, with consistent panoramic views of the Teton Mountains to the north, Jackson Hole to the east, and culminating with commanding views of the Snake River Range to the south.

Mount Elly Trail Description

As mentioned, the Mount Elly Trail begins high up on Teton Pass, where a large parking area offers easy and convenient parking for those looking for a number of excursions from the pass. The main trail to begin the hike is located in the middle of the parking lot, with another spur closer to the “Howdy stranger…” sign.

Both will connect only a few dozen feet in as the trail from there begins ascending quickly from Teton Pass. The good news is that this is one of the harder parts of the trail, as it makes frequent small switchbacks up through the trees before smoothing out, the road noise already beginning to move into the background of the landscape. From here, easy to moderate climbs become the staple of the hike, gradually ascending through exposed hillsides, and shady forest.

As you round a significant corner at 0.3 miles in, you’ll notice a large power line tower and communication equipment in the trail ahead. Easy hiking will bring you there as you wind around the exposed hillside, reaching the tower at 0.5 miles in. A small sign will be waiting at a junction below the tower, directing you upward to go around the tower where panoramic views await on the other side, the noise from Highway 22 continuing to fade away.

The Black Canyon Trail descending out of the Snake River Mountains toward Mount Glory in the Teton Mountains. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

At 0.7 miles in, you’ll cross into the Palisades Wilderness Study Area, marked by a wall of evergreens. The hiking continues easily upward below a ridgeline. At 1 mile in and roughly halfway to the peak, you’ll enter a more signature forest where the trail takes a bit of a steeper turn for a short distance, before regaining its easy to moderate ascent. You’ll pass onto the west side of the ridge here, where you’ll notice a small canyon on your right while the views of Jackson Hole are temporarily blocked.

A small switchback will turn you to the north for a brief stretch, where a subtle glimpse of northern Teton Valley, Idaho can be seen ahead and to the left. Only a moment later and the switchback cuts back to the south, gradually ascending along the ridgeline now on your left.

At 1.5 miles in, you’ll see a small spur trail heading to the left, offering a relaxing view eastward and far above Jackson Hole. Continue straight after passing or enjoying the small overlook and at 1.75 miles you’ll reach a trail junction with the Lithium Trail, which is a downhill mountain biking trail only, so continue straight to hit the final legs toward Mount Elly.

Ground brush and bushes along the Black Canyon Trail in the Snake River Mountains changing for the fall season. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Upon emerging from the trees into a high alpine meadow, you’ll reach another junction at 1.8 miles. An unofficial trail heads left at the junction, hence the reason it’s not marked on the sign. The trail starts off easily enough, but quickly begins climbing at a steeper rate than the rest of the trail. It’s only for less than 0.2 miles though, so soon enough you’ll reach Mount Elly where geological survey marker indicates the end of the trail.

Looking out from the summit you’re treated to commanding views of southern Jackson Hole, the Gros Ventre Mountains, and the Snake River Mountains. Even a few prominent southern Teton peaks can be seen to the north. Enjoy the views as long as you’d like, then head back out the way you came in.

Getting There

From Wilson, WY, head west on Highway 22 to begin ascending toward Teton Pass for 5.5 miles. At Teton Pass, pull into the large parking area on your left.

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