January 26, 2011

Teton Crest Trail - Permission Granted!

Barns grand tetons

When I checked the mail last night, I was excited to see an envelope from the US Department of the Interior. That could only mean one thing was inside: a backcountry permit for Grand Teton National Park.

Since we still have at least 5 months of ski season ahead of us, it feels a little premature to be planning summer backpacking trips. Its actually not that hard to just show up and get a permit to start the following day (like we did from the John Muir Trail last July). However, we had our sights on using the extended Labor Day weekend to hike the Teton Crest Trail, which can be a busy time, so we sent in a request through the lottery system. Its comforting to know we can just show up to the ranger station on Saturday morning, pick up our permit, and be on our way.

I'm already excited about the TCT. We're planning 4 days / 3 nights, with a sidetrip to climb South & Middle Teton (we don't quite have the climbing experience to go for the Grand yet), and hopefully tag a few more peaks along the way.

And we don't have to carry 11 days worth of food, each, like we did on the JMT. That alone is something to look forward to!


  1. Hello, fellow hiker,

    My friend and I are hiking the TCT the same time as you are. Neither him or I have done TCT before, and I am trying to see if there is a way to summit Middle Teton from either Alaska Basin or North Fork. Our itinerary for second day (second night) is camp at Alaska Basin and third night at North Fork. I was wondering if you are aware of any side trail that would lead us to both South and Middle Teton, or just the Middle Teton.

    I look forward for your assistance.



  2. Dersh - From looking at some maps, it seems like there is a spur trail off the TCT that heads S/SE after you cross Hurricane Pass. That trail takes you approximately to the west ridge of South Teton (which is, as far as I can tell, the easiest ascent route). To climb Middle Teton as well, you'd then need to drop down to the South/Middle Teton saddle, and ascend the SW couloir of Middle Teton. I think this is definitely possible to include in a TCT hike, but still haven't figured out all of the logistics. Surely grabbing both of those summits would be quite a "side trip" off the TCT!

  3. Jake,

    Thank you for the information. The information you provided is helpful to make this adventure even more challenging and adventurous. I am a Grand Teton "virgin" so I guess, we will be aiming more towards summiting the Middle as our priority on the side trip.

    Thank you once again for the helpful information.


  4. Hi Jake:

    Sorry for a small question.
    Do you know, from your experience, how difficult it is to get the permits to hike TCT on first-come first-served basis at the end of August?

    Thank you,

  5. Its probably not that hard... just get to the ranger's station early in the morning, and preferably on a weekday. I can't speak specifically for the Tetons, but last summer we went to Yosemite, got to the backcountry office in the late morning, and got the exact permit we wanted to leave the next morning.

  6. Hi Jake,
    Did your plan to hike the South and Middle Tetons in a 4d/3n hike work out for you? I was looking to do the same thing this Labor Day weekend and was hoping you might have some advice (ease of following the trail from the TCT to the South/Middle Tetons, where to camp for that particular part of the hike).

    1. Hi Eran. We ended up not doing this hike last fall... got into the swing of marathon training and that became our big priority.