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Wilson Canyon to Adams Canyon Loop

Mountains Rising Beyond Smaller Hills
Larger peaks of the Gros Ventre Mountains rising in the distance beyond the smaller foothills along the Adams Canyon Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

The Wilson Canyon to Adam’s Canyon Loop is a wildly remote 7.25 mile hike in the lower Gros Ventre Mountains, connecting two remote and infrequently traveled canyons. The strenuous hike is shared with mountain bikers, and can be started from either the Adam’s Canyon Trailhead or the Wilson Canyon Trailhead and can be enjoyed clockwise or counterclockwise. For the sake of simplicity, this description begins from the Wilson Canyon Trailhead and ascends counterclockwise.

Wilson Canyon to Adam’s Canyon Loop Description

From the Wilson Canyon Trailhead, head up from the parking area, immediately crossing into the Bridger-Teton National Forest. You’ll travel over a few exposed grassy hills before making a quick descent into the mouth of Wilson Canyon.

As the hills on either side increase in size, the easy trail gently snakes closer to striking cliffs deeper in the mouth of the canyon. After roughly 1 mile of easy hiking, you’ll begin a much more strenuous mile.

Wilson Canyon

Wilson Canyon Trail and Fall Brush
The Wilson Canyon Trail ascending through an old forest and fall ground brush. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

With increasingly rocky terrain, the trail begins to quickly gain elevation. After snaking through rocks and additional vegetation, you’ll soon after find yourself in a dense old forest. Through this narrow canyon, you’ll rapidly gain more elevation as the trail scrambles through the bottom of the steep canyon.

Shaded from the sun both from the forest canopy as well as the narrow rocky cliffs, the steep climb stays consistent through the serene woods. Toward the end of mile 2, you reach a pond created from an old dam. Just beyond the pond the trail smooths out for some easy hiking for a while.

Paralleling a peaceful perennial creek, you’ll emerge from the forest below lush open hillsides rising high above. Both the creek and trail wind through the beautifully exposed canyon bottom, ripe with wildflowers and vegetation in the summer months.

After a rather pleasant mile of hiking, you’ll intersect with the South Fork of Leek’s Canyon Trail at 3 miles. Right continues up the Wilson Canyon Trail, while left cuts over to the Adam’s Canyon Trail.

Willows Below Wilson Canyon Trail
Willow bushes lining the canyon bottom below the Wilson Canyon Trail. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

South Fork of Leek’s Canyon Trail

Heading left, you’ll make an easy ascent along a forest’s edge as the trail wraps around below more gorgeous hills. Soon you’ll begin climbing through tranquil aspen trees as the views behind you become increasingly vast and captivating. As you reach a saddle above the aspens with stunning views eastward, you’ll connect with the Adam’s Canyon Trail at 3.6 miles in. Head left to begin closing out the loop.

Adam’s Canyon Trail

Heading up the Adam’s Canyon Trail, you’ll gradually climb higher through the tranquil hills as the rolling vistas become more and more impressive. You’ll reach a high point at 4.25 miles in with outstanding panoramic views in all directions. To the north the dramatic summit of Snow King Mountain is dwarfed by the Teton Mountains in the distance.

Beginning to descend from the hills, the trail will make a steep turn as it descends through a large aspen grove bordering an evergreen forest. You’ll emerge from the descent in a wider open canyon, soon reaching the next leg of Adam’s Canyon. The trail will veer toward the top of a small canyon, becoming heavily forested as you begin to descend once again.

The Adams Canyon Trail descending the lower Gros Ventre Mountains toward Jackson Hole. Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

This stretch of Adam’s Canyon will feel very familiar, reminiscent of Wilson Canyon, with the rocky canyon walls closing in on a quiet old forest. Through the rapid descent, the high canyon walls grow higher with the woods, giving you a great sense of solitude and calm.

A&W Trail

Once at the bottom of the descent, you’ll reach another junction at 6 miles in, this one with the A&W Trail. Head left to begin the easy meander below the Gros Ventre Mountain foothills. For the next 1.2 miles, the relaxing trail makes for a pleasant way to close out the loop as you wind below the hills back toward the Wilson Canyon Trailhead. You’ll pass through a junction leading down to the businesses below, and at 7.1 miles, you’ll reach the fork to branch off back to the Wilson Canyon Trailhead, closing out the loop.

Getting There

From Town Square in Jackson, Wyoming, head west on Broadway Ave. for 5.25 miles. The road will switch to Highway 89 as it bends southward. Turn left and drive past the Lower Valley Energy building. Continue 500 feet until the dead-end where parking can be found on the left.

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All content © Copyright Mike Cavaroc, Free Roaming Hiker & Free Roaming Photography