The only hike you’ll regret here is the one not taken.
There are more miles of hiking trails in, around, and through Jackson Hole than there are hours of sunlight in the summer, and August alone gets an average of 340 hours of sun. Jackson Hole hikes range from day-long epics that get you high in the Tetons — maybe even onto a Teton summit — to mellow walks along the Snake River. In between there are hikes in the Gros Ventre Mountains with spectacular Teton views (a secret: the best views of the Tetons aren’t from the Tetons) and walks along routes used by Native Americans for hundreds of years. On any of these, expect to encounter something wild, whether an animal, flower, or local athlete trying for a speed or distance record.
Local hikers are split on what season is best for hiking. June and July bring wildflowers and a higher probability of encountering snow on trails, especially the earlier and higher you go. If you’re dreaming about a high-alpine hike like the Teton Crest Trail, mountain summits, or anything from the top of the tram, mid-July to mid-September is the window for these trails being snow-free (although we’ve seen snow every month of the year here, so no guarantees). The later you go in this window, the fewer crowds and bugs you’ll encounter; also decreasing are the temperatures and hours of daylight you’ll have. In May, June, October or November, set your sights on low- and mid-elevation trails. Hiking from December through March is either on groomed trails or snowshoes.
How to have a great hiking experience in Jackson Hole
Apps like AllTrails, Gaia, or Trail Forks are great digital mapping tools to help you plan your hike. If you want to use them during your hike, make sure to download the relevant maps for offline use since mountains are good at interfering with cell service. For added safety that doubles as a functional souvenir, paper maps are available at local outdoor shops and visitor centers. Don’t be shy about asking gear shop employees and visitor center staff about trail conditions and wildlife activity.
Always tell someone where you’re going and when you think you’ll return. Equally important is remembering to check in with this person when you’ve finished and returned to your car.
Check the weather, both the daily and hourly forecast. An oft-repeated mountain joke is “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” This is funny until you’re stuck on a ridge in shorts and a T-shirt in a sudden thunder- or snowstorm.
Carry extra layers, bear spray, snacks, water, sunscreen, a headlamp or flashlight, and a basic first aid kit with you. These are the minimum items you should have in your pack. If you’re out for more than a couple of hours, consider bringing a way to sterilize water.
Lightweight hiking poles are a savior on long mountain hikes and are used by most mountain guides in the area who know that saving their knees is key to a lifetime of enjoying the mountains.
We acknowledge that we live and recreate on the ancestral homeland of the Mountain Shoshone people, and wish to recognize the lands of the over 27 bands of Indigenous people who were the earliest occupants and stewards of what is now referred to as the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.Learn More