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Grand Teton Park Hikes In Lake Springs and Early Summer
There are many amazing Grand Teton Hikes for you to enjoy, but several of the classic day hikes and overnight hikes in Grand Teton National Park are not going to be clear of snow until at least the first or second week in July, if not later.
Grand Teton National Park receives heavy snowfall each and every winter, and it takes a really long time for the snow to melt off, especially snow along the continental divide. And several of the classic day hikes and overnight backpacking hikes that involve getting near or crossing the divide, such as the Paintbrush Canyon – Cascade Canyon Loop Trail, Paintbrush Divide, Hurricane Pass Trail, Death Canyon / Static Peak Divide Trail, will have snow on them probably into late July or early August on a typical year. These trails may seem OK at the beginning of your hike, but the higher they gain in elevation as they work their way towards the divide, the deeper the snow will become, and conditions may become treacherous as these trails approach the divide early in the season.
May Is Really Early For Grand Teton Hikes
May is actually too early for most Grand Teton hikes due to the amount of snow that is still on the ground. Even the low elevation trails such as the Taggart Lake Trail or the Jenny Lake Trail to Hidden Falls will have a lot of snow during a typical year. Any backcountry trails will be completely covered in extremely deep snow, and only those hikers who are experts at self-arrest techniques with a mountain axe (a.k.a. ice axe) should attempt these higher altitude Grand Teton Hikes. Spring avalanche danger is also a factor this early in the season.
June Is Still Quite Early for Higher Altitude Grand Teton Hikes
Many of the low altitude trails such as Taggart Lake Trail, Two Ocean Lake Trail, Jenny Lake Trail to Hidden Falls, etc. will be open and mainly snow-free in June. However, any hikes that involve crossing the divide, or even getting near the divide, will be completely covered in snow during the entire month of June during a typical year, and more than likely will continue to be covered in snow far into July. These trails include the Paintbrush Canyon – Cascade Canyon Loop Trail, Paintbrush Divide, Holly Lake, Amphitheater Lake, Hurricane Ridge Trail, Static Peak Divide Trail, just to name a few. All of these trails involve higher altitudes (above 9,000 feet), and/or the crossing the divide (10,000+ feet).
This always seems to surprise many Grand Teton National Park hiking enthusiasts because most of the park is completely snow-free, and snow is the last thing on their mind. But as the trails gain in elevation, such as the Grand Teton Trails leading to Holly Lake, Paintbrush Divide, Hurricane Pass or Amphitheater Lake, snow not only starts appearing on the trail, but it becomes deeper and deeper… eventually becoming treacherous in many places along these popular Grand Teton Trails.
Late July / Early August Is Your Best Bet For Higher Altitude Hikes
If you don’t want to navigate through alot of snow while undertaking the Grand Teton Hikes that involve higher altitudes including the divide, your best bet is to enjoy these Grand Teton Hikes in late July or early August. Usually on a typical year these trails are fairly clear of snow by then.
IF HIKING IN HIGHER ALTITUDE SNOW…..
Anyone hiking early in the season on these higher altitude Grand Teton Hikes, we strongly recommend that they are expertly trained in self-arrest techniques with a mountain axe (a.k.a. ice axe). Steep snow fields can be extremely dangerous and possibly life-threatening if a hiker does not know how to adequately stop his or her body from sliding down these slopes. So if you’re not an expert in self-arrest, please do not attempt these higher altitude Grand Teton Hikes until they are adequately clear of dangerous snow fields.
Ask A Ranger
If you are wanting to attempt some of the higher altitude Grand Teton trails fairly early in the season… even during the entire month of July and possible into early August, make sure you ask a ranger at one of the Grand Teton National Park visitor centers about the conditions of the trails. They will be able to tell you exactly what you’re up against so you can make the best decision as to which trail seems to be the safest bet, if any.
You Can Always Turn Around!
If you’re OK with turning around, what many hikers do early in the season is begin their hike up Paintbrush Canyon (for example) towards Holly Lake and Paintbrush Divide, and once the snow gets too deep or treacherous, they simply turn around and head back down. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this at all! You’ll enjoy a great hike and see some incredible landscape, and you don’t have get into any risky situations.
Grand Teton Hikes provide some of the most incredible mountain access in North America, and are well worth pursuing during your Grand Teton National Park vacation. But as you’ve just learned from the above article, snow can linger on many of these trails into July and and sometimes even into August, especially the Grand Teton Hikes that involve higher altitudes and/or the divide. Make sure you are adequately trained and proficient at self-arrest with a mountain axe if attempting these more advanced hikes early in the season. If not, it is best that you wait until August when the divide for the most part is clear of hazardous snow fields.
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