WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 1)

Since I was only about 70 miles from the Tetons, and given I was already acclimated to the elevation after spending the previous six weeks in Wind River Mountains, I figured I might as well try my luck at obtaining a walk-up permit. Arriving after the Visitor Center closed, I spent the night staring at my objective. 

The Park holds two thirds of their permits for walk ups. Those are pretty good odds. I arrived at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center an hour before it opened in hopes I’d be first in line, which I easily accomplished. By pushing my start date back I day, I scored the permit I desired. The ranger talked me into exploring Leigh Lake while I was waiting to get started. 

Skies were a bit smoky which made me concerned about proceeding with my trek. 

I had my own private beach and only saw one other party at the lake. Since I only had to pack for one night, I brought a few luxury items like my beach shoes. 

With a hike of only a couple miles, I even brought my chair (Moon Lence). 

There are many trailheads from which you can access the Teton Crest Trail. I based my itinerary on one provided by a friend; she’d recommended starting from the Coal Creek Trailhead, west of Teton Pass on Highway 22. I rarely hike one-way routes because of the transport logistics but I decided to make an exception for this opportunity. Rather than arrange for a taxi, I decided I’d try to hitch the 40-50 miles. I quickly secured a ride from the String Lake parking area to the junction of North Jenny Lake and Teton Road. Although there was plenty of traffic, no one seemed interested in giving me a lift. I’d noticed a painter at the Cathedral Group turnout. Before calling a taxi I approached this gentleman but he was planning to spend the day in that location. However, another guy had stopped to chat and offered me a lift. Richard ended up being my angel, giving me a ride all the way to the trailhead, completely out of his way. We had great conversation and he relieved me of so much worry. Thanks again Richard! (p.s. I never received your email, try adding a “1” to the address I gave you or use jansjaunts-wordpress@yahoo.com.

Much of the Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) borders the Jedediah Smith Wilderness with the trail bouncing in and out of the Park boundaries. My first 8-10 miles were outside the Park giving me campsite freedom the first night. 

Much of the first few miles was contending with past peak wildflowers, a little overwhelming as they drooped over the trail. 

As I gained elevation, live wildflowers replaced those gone to seed. Far in the distance is one of the Teton peaks.

My goal was to spend the night at Moose Lake, which is tucked below and to the left of this granite ridge. 

But with my late start and plentiful elevation gain, I didn’t quite make it. After getting within about 1/2 mile of the lake, I retreated to this nice site near Moose Creek

While eating breakfast, the creek’s namesake strolled by, not even giving me a glance. 

I’ve been wanting to see a moose in the wild forever. How lucky to see one at Moose Creek! My only regret was I didn’t have my camera nearby, but at least had my phone to capture this photo. 

Moose Lake is over there, a place that looks worthy of a future visit.

Beautiful country near the Moose Lake basin. 

To be continued . . .

Hike Details:

  • Date(s) Hiked: 8/28-8/29/17
  • Mileage: About 5 round trip to Leigh Lake from parking; about 8 from Coal Creek trailhead to Moose Creek
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: Unknown as preserving battery; however, it was a continuous climb from the Coal Creek trailhead to Moose Creek.
  • Trail Conditions:
    • Tree obstacles: minimal
    • Overgrowth: wildflowers
    • Signage: good
    • Terrain: decent switchbacks
  • Water: Plentiful as trail borders Coal Creek to Mesquite Creek to Moose Creek
  • Camping: Plentiful
  • Solitude: High! Only saw a few day hikers on the Coal Creek Trail. There were LOTS of people around String and Leigh Lakes during the day but at night my campsite was private and I only heard one saw a couple with a canoe in the distance.
  • Bugs: Nearly non existent this late in season
  • Precip: There was a thunderstorm mid day while I was hiking the Coal Creek trail.
  • Temp: It was 42 overnight at Leigh Lake and 52 at Moose Creek.
  • Jan’s Cherry Picker Delight Scale: 3+ cherries (out of 5)




5 thoughts on “WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 2) – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  2. Pingback: WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 3) – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  3. Pingback: WY – Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park (Part 4) – Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings

  4. Hello, Jan. It was great to meet you and to visit with you on the way to the way to the Coal Creek Trailhead. I was happy to be your “angel”, and am glad to see you had a great experience! Great blog & photos. Happy trails! – Richard

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