By Michael Lanza
As we hiked up the North Fork of Cascade Canyon on the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park, moments after the path emerged from the forest into a meadow strewn with boulders and still dappled with blooming wildflowers in late August, my friend David turned to look over his shoulder and blurted out, “Oh, wow, look at that view!” Behind us, the sheer north faces of the Grand Teton and Mount Owen towered a vertical mile above us, shooting straight up over the canyon like fireworks (photo above).
By that point on our trip, though, uncontrolled outbursts of awe were occurring several times a day. That’s what it’s like to backpack the Teton Crest Trail.
At the end of August—in many ways, an ideal time to hike there—three friends and I backpacked a 36-mile traverse of Grand Teton National Park, mostly on the Teton Crest Trail. While I’ve backpacked it several times now, it was the first time all three of them had hiked the TCT.
Seeing the reactions of these friends—every one of them very experienced backpackers who’ve taken numerous trips with me—to the scenery along this classic trek, reaffirmed my opinion that few multi-day hikes offer so much grandeur almost every step of way like the Teton Crest Trail. But I’ll let the photos here make that case for me.
After at least 20 trips into the backcountry of the Tetons, I can’t get enough of these sharply serrated peaks and deep, cliff-flanked canyons, the alpine lakes and icy creeks, campsites with jaw-dropping views, or the explosion of wildflowers in summer.
I count the Teton Crest Trail unquestionably among the top 10 best backpacking trips in America, and two camping areas on it—where my friends and I camped on this most-recent trip—among my list of top 25 favorite backcountry campsites of all time (although, honestly, other spots where I’ve pitched a tent in this park would make almost anyone’s list).
My downloadable e-guide “The Complete Guide to Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail in Grand Teton National Park” tells you all you need to know to plan and take this trip, from how to get a very popular backcountry permit to describing the various route options and pointing out the best places to camp, as well as how to prepare for this trip.
Like what you’re reading? Sign up now for my FREE email newsletter!
I feel so attached to these mountains that I made a point of taking my kids there as soon as they were both capable of a trip that rugged: When our daughter was six and her brother eight, we spent three days backpacking the nearly 20-mile Paintbrush Canyon-Cascade Canyon loop from the Leigh Lake Trailhead, an adventure that concluded with a close-up sighting of two bull moose in Cascade Canyon. Two summers later, we returned for a longer family backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail.
The photos below are from this most-recent backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail.
I’ve helped many readers plan an unforgettable backpacking trip on the Teton Crest Trail. Want my help with yours? Find out more here.
Watch for my upcoming feature story about this trip. Meanwhile, see my stories “American Classic: Backpacking the Teton Crest Trail” and “Walking Familiar Ground: Reliving Old Memories and Making New Ones on the Teton Crest Trail,” the latter about my family’s trip on it, and all of my stories about Grand Teton National Park at The Big Outside.
See also my popular “10 Tips For Getting a Hard-to-Get National Park Backcountry Permit.”
Tell me what you think.
I spent a lot of time writing this story, so if you enjoyed it, please consider giving it a share using one of the buttons at right, and leave a comment or question at the bottom of this story. I’d really appreciate it.