Favorite Fall Hikes

Favorite Fall Hikes

Stunning views make these trails must-dos

Fall is a great time to visit the Tetons. The days are cooler, leaves start to change and a fresh dusting of snow on the mountaintops make for a beautiful backdrop. Fall is also a good opportunity to explore some of the lower-elevation hikes in the valley that offer stunning views of the mountains and stay free of snow as late as November. Below are some of my recommended areas to hike in the fall.   

Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point

One of my favorite hikes in Grand Teton National Park is to Inspiration Point. Roughly 6 miles roundtrip and less than 500 vertical feet of gain from the String Lake parking lot, the trail offers amazing views of Jenny Lake and the peaks of Teewinot, Mt. Owen and the Grand Teton. It is one of the most popular hikes in the summer but is better experienced after Labor Day when the crowds start to thin out.

The trail crosses a pedestrian bridge just south of the parking lot and meanders through the trees and along the west shore of Jenny Lake. If you time it right, you can hear elk bugling and catch beautiful fall colors along the trail.

Once you reach the boat dock on Jenny Lake, you should head up to Hidden Falls, a nice cascading waterfall tucked away in the trees a short distance from the lakeshore.

After the falls, head up to Inspiration Point and take in the amazing views of Jenny Lake and the Gros Ventre Wilderness across the valley. From there you can take the loop trail back to Jenny Lake and to your car.

Gros Ventre Wilderness

If you want to experience some of the best views of the Tetons without a long hike, you can head out to another one of my favorite areas to visit in the fall: Shadow Mountain or Slide Lake in the Gros Ventre Wilderness. To get there, just head east on the Gros Ventre Road and either head up to Shadow Mountain or turn right toward Slide Lake.

Shadow Mountain offers huge groves of aspen trees that turn bright yellow in the fall. You can either drive, walk or mountain bike to the top of the road. The area offers great views of the Tetons from across the valley. For a breathtaking experience, head up early in the morning and watch the sunrise from the top.

Slide Lake is another great spot that is often overlooked. You can park along the road and walk up one of the many horse trails. Within 10 minutes of leaving the road and after climbing a few hundred vertical feet, the Tetons appear from behind the grassy hills. The golden grass, brightly colored aspen leaves and snow on the Tetons provide an outstanding contrast for photos or a perfect spot to have lunch.

Jackson Hikes

There are plenty of other opportunities to hike around the town of Jackson. Josie’s Ridge is a 2.5-mile hike to the top of Snow King that offers amazing views of Jackson from the top. But be warned: With over 1,500 feet in elevation gain, it’s no walk in the park! Ski Lake is another favorite hike located on Teton Pass that climbs around 900 feet over 3 miles to a small lake tucked in the grassy hills. Ski Lake is a great spot to bring your dog for a quick afternoon hike.

These are just a few of my favorite areas to explore in the fall around Jackson and Grand Teton National Park. After you’ve checked them out, grab a map and start exploring some of the other trails in the valley. Just remember to be prepared, and carry extra layers, water and bear spray while hiking in the backcountry.

Owen Leeper

Blog Author

Owen Leeper

Born in Aspen, Colorado, Owen donned his first pair of skis at the age of 4 and has loved skiing ever since. He grew up skiing in Aspen and Telluride before attending the University of Colorado. Following graduation, Owen moved back to Aspen to pursue skiing as a career in slopestyle and halfpipe. Looking to move somewhere new, Owen discovered Jackson, Wyoming, where he now lives. You can find Owen skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, in the backcountry and in the Tetons year-round, documenting his many adventures through photos and videos.