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Mount Hunt Divide

Rain showers approaching the Mount Hunt Divide over Granite Canyon. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Mount Hunt Divide hike is a strenuous 7.5 mile hike up a quiet canyon in the Teton Mountains of Grand Teton National Park. The hike ascends up Open Canyon, which is most easily accessed via the Death Canyon Trailhead. It can also be reached by hiking a portion of the Phelps Lake Loop to avoid substantial elevation gain on the way out, but keep in mind that this route will also add about 1 mile both going in as well as heading back out.

Mount Hunt Divide Trail Description

The trail begins at the Death Canyon Trailhead, where you’ll almost immediately after connect with the Valley Trail. Head left to begin toward Open Canyon.

Along the way you’ll hike through a beautifully serene forest for the first mile before arriving at the Phelps Lake Overlook. Enjoy the stunning view as long as you’d like, then continue down the Valley Trail.

Phelps Lake Below Hiking Trail
A hiking trail descending toward Phelps Lake late in the autumn season. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Two large switchbacks guide you down the mountain toward Phelps Lake with dramatic views consistently unfolding of Phelps Lake and the gargantuan Death Canyon cliffs ahead. After nearly another mile, you’ll reach a trail junction at 1.7 miles in. Right begins the Death Canyon Trail, so head left to remain on the Valley Trail.

A scenic and easy descent brings you closer to Phelps Lake where you’ll reach the next junction after just 0.2 miles from the previous. Head right to begin wrapping around a bit of Phelps Lake.

The Death Canyon Creek soon rushes below a small footbridge as you begin to make your way around the tranquil lake. You’ll enter back into peaceful woods before making a small climb to another junction. Left continues along the Phelps Lake Loop while continues up the Valley Trail toward Open Canyon.

Heading right from the junction, the trail climbs steeply up the side of the glacial moraine, the woods only allowing glimpses of the lake below. At the top of the climb and at 2.7 miles in, you reach another junction with the Open Canyon Connector, the Valley Trail forking off to the left. Head right to reach Open Canyon.

Arrowhead balsamroot wildflowers blooming along the Open Canyon Trail near the mouth of Open Canyon. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Straddling the moraine, you’ll make an easy ascent up the ridgeline through the silent forest. You’ll then make a quick descent from the moraine as you begin to head toward Open Canyon. The forest through this stretch is peaceful and completely undisturbed feeling, and black bears are frequently seen in this area, so be alert.

Enjoying an easy and relaxing stretch of trail, you’ll reach the final junction of the ascent at 3.5 miles in. Head right to begin up the Open Canyon Trail.

A vast meadow lining the steep mountainside opens up, showing off beautifully unique views of Jackson Hole and beyond. As you wrap around the mouth of the canyon, the meadow gives way to more forest for a brief stretch before arriving at Open Canyon Creek.

A small waterfall pouring over rocks in the lower elevations of Open Canyon in the Teton Mountains. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The rushing creek provides a perfect spot to stop and rest and top off water, if needed, before the next leg of the hike, which is all uphill from here. With numerous rocks and boulders lining the creek, cozy places for a break are plentiful with views up the canyon that insist on a bit admiration.

Once ready, continue up the trail again where you’ll quickly enter into a deep evergreen forest for the next xx miles. Shortly after crossing into the woods you’ll also enter the Open Canyon Camping Zone.

Throughout this leg of the hike the views are minimal at best, while the focus becomes more of an intimate hike through an old forest. The ascent remains steady, even challenging in a few places, but overall provides an incredibly peaceful hike up a quiet and remote canyon.

The steep rocky walls dropping down from the top of Open Canyon in the Teton Mountains. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

About a mile from the divide, the trees begin to thin out as you approach closer to treeline. Mammoth views looking up into the higher elevations of Open Canyon rise high above and ahead, yielding mountain vistas that most rarely make the effort to ever see. After a few switchbacks of increasingly stunning alpine mountain terrain towering above, the trail cuts southward ascending through a dense forest of whitebark pine, firs, and spruces. It’s also through here that you’ll leave the camping zone, so if your goal was to camp for the night, you’ll want to secure a spot well before the divide.

Snaking through the sweet-smelling forest, you’ll climb steadily closer and closer to the Mount Hunt Divide. With large rocky cliffs lining the right side of the trail, you at last reach the divide where a sprawling view of Granite Canyon opens up in front of you. With Rendezvous Mountain rising high straight ahead, the canyon drops down below steeply with unparalleled vistas looking far up toward the back of the canyon.

Savor the view, and when ready, head back out the same way you came in.

Getting There

From the Craig Thomas Visitor Center, head north on the Teton Park Road, and at the very next intersection, turn left onto the Moose-Wilson Road. Follow that south for 3.1 miles, turning right toward the Death Canyon Trailhead. Continue on that road, and where it turns to dirt, you have the option to park there and hike an extra mile, or head to the dead-end where the trailhead is. The option is there because the road is notoriously beat up. Other parking options exist along the way as well.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com