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Old Pass Road

Old Pass Road in the Teton Mountains climbing below early fall colors. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Old Pass Road is a paved but strenuous 4 mile hike up to Teton Pass from just west of the town of Wilson, Wyoming at the base of the Teton Mountains. Climbing over 1,800 feet along its ascent up, the journey winds along what was the original highway up and down from the mountain pass. With both beautiful views into the valley of Jackson Hole from the higher elevations and serene forest scenes, you’re treated to a stunning mountain climb, complete with a small glacial lake.

Old Pass Road Trail Description

The trail can be accessed from either the top of Teton Pass or from the Old Pass Road Trailhead just west of Wilson. For simplicity, this write-up will assume you’re hiking uphill from the trailhead.

From the parking area, head west to the turn-around circle and pass through the gate to begin heading up Old Pass Road. The easy-going road begins with a steady uphill ascent and never lets up. While not terribly steep, the consistent ascent can prove challenging for some as the miles add up.

The landscape is heavily forested as the climb persists up from the trailhead. An occasional view down into the canyon is a welcome sight courtesy of large meadows, as are any views toward Jackson Hole that open up behind you. Likewise, the northern peaks of the Snake River Mountains rise up ahead, including Mount Elly.

Calm Reflection in Crater Lake
Still waters in Crater Lake of the Teton Mountains producing a picturesque reflection with fall colors lining the hillside. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Rushing water begins to become more audible as you approach a sublime but small glacial lake known as, Crater Lake. This welcome rest point comes at 1.3 miles in, and even has benches to encourage the sparkling blue-green waters. For many, this will also make for a nice destination. To continue upward, resume ascending up the old road when ready.

Another dense forest surrounds the trail before opening back up again with more prominent aspen groves. From here, you’ll begin a series of switchbacks that steadily climb up the mountainside below the Glory Bowl. As the trees begin to thin a bit, the views become ever more impressive looking east into southern Jackson Hole.

It doesn’t take long before the noise of Highway 22 becomes more audible as the elevation of the two begin to equal out. Making a final ascent below a small parking area, the trail climbs just a bit easier as it makes its last jaunt to Teton Pass. Immense views reward your efforts as gorgeous vistas of Jackson Hole appear below.

Also from Teton Pass, you have a few options for the return. Naturally, you can head back down the same way you came up, or you can take the History Trail back down for roughly the same mileage. If you want to add a few more miles and make a scenic loop, you can also connect with the Black Canyon Trail to head back down.

Stormy weather passing over the southern end of Jackson Hole, the Snake River, and the Gros Ventre Mountains. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

Getting There

From Wilson, Wyoming, head west on Highway 22 for 1 mile, turning left onto Old Pass Road (aka, Forest Road 30996). Continue another mile until the road dead-ends at the parking area.

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Mike@FreeRoamingPhotography.com