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Moose, Wyoming, United States

Garnet Canyon to The Lower Saddle, Grand Teton National Park

A hike into beautiful Garnet Canyon on the way up The Grand Teton. This is the route most climbs of the Grand take.

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 5.4 miles / 8.7 km
Duration: Full day
Overview: This is an all day very strenuous hike up through Garnet Canyon and up to the Lower Saddle below the Grand Teton. This is the route most climbs of the Grand take, stopping over at the Lower Saddle for rest until the next morning's climb. This hike has an elevation gain of almost 6,000 ft. so should not be attempted by anyone not in top fitness and form.

A good alternate destination would be to just hike into Garnet Canyon with only about 2,500 ft. of elevation gain. The views in Garnet Canyon are spectacular with the huge Teton peaks rising on three sides. A cool stream flows along much of the canyon making a great place to eat lunch and cool your feet.

Heading up to the lower saddle requires good route finding skills and even a little climbing using a fixed rope at one point. The variety of rock both large and small makes this canyon a rock lovers paradise.

The Lower Saddle is a very fragile alpine environment and every precaution should be taken to not step on the flowers and grasses that are hanging on in these harsh and high conditions. Walk on the rock and look down!

Tips: Pack light and bring a headlamp in case you need to hike in the dark on the way back.
Calories: Bring a good lunch and plenty of snacks for fueling up on the trail.
Sunscreen: You are high in the tetons and the sun in Garnet Canyon is unobstructed most of the day.
Water: there are some good streams to get water from, so bring a couple liters of water at the start and fill up along the way. Bring some sort of filter or purifying system.

Points of Interest


Lupine Meadows Trailhead

This is where you start. There is plenty of parking here as well as a bathroom.

Gentle Rising Trail

The trail rises at a gentle slope through the trees here allowing you to warm up for what is to come. Enjoy the trees and the shade as there will be quite less as you move higher.

Valley Trail Junction

This trail to the left on the way up takes you to Bradley Lake. Keep your group together on the way up and down so no one accidentally take this way. It will take you a long way out of the way.

Bradley and Taggart Lakes

Great views of Bradley and Taggart Lakes from the trail here as well as the valley toward Moose behind them.

Flowers Along Trail

The flowers along the trail make these switchbacks a pleasure. You can get some great pictures of your fellow hikers as they traverse above and below you through the beautiful flowers.

Surprise Lake Trail Junction

Going up to the right here will bring you to Surprise Lake and Amphitheater Lake. I've never been there but I'm sure it's beautiful. This is an easy trail to get wrong on the way down, so make sure your group is together here so someone doesn't accidentally take this trail.

Cold Stream To Cool Your Feet

Here is a great place to put your feet in the cool stream and eat some lunch. There is quite a ways to go still and the steepest part is still to come. Consider stopping here and enjoying the canyon for a while if you are tired. This is a good place to turn around if you or someone in your group is feeling tired.

Garnet Canyon Rocks

The variety of rocks in Garnet Canyon makes this a rock lovers paradise. Take some time to look closely at all the different colors, crystals, and awesome rocks both large and small here.

A View of The Lower Saddle

Here you can look up and see the clouds coming over the Lower Saddle.

High Break

After the steep climbing, you will need a break or two. This trail looks straight up the mountain, but it's really a lot of switching back and forth. Take a rest on one of the switchbacks and enjoy the view above and below you. The video shows the Teepe Pillar. The Grand Teton is behind it and not visible from here.

Lower Saddle

This is the lower saddle, your destination. There is a climbers cabin (tent really) here and you may see many climber groups coming up or coming down off the Grand. There is an outdoor toilet (composting I believe). You will notice the toilet is on the West side of the ridge. Keep all your toilet trips to the west so the water below on the East is kept as clean as possible.

The Enclosure

Don't try to get up here unless you have climbing experience and ropes and harnesses. This side summit is about 400 ft. below the Grand Teton Summit.
Pictures in this guide taken by: tonyfarley, blountkr

Garnet Canyon to The Lower Saddle, Grand Teton National Park Trail Map

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About the Author

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I'm the creator of Beautiful Places in HD and Beautiful Places: HIking.

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