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Trail of the Week: Teton Range Traverse, Wyoming

A challenging run rewarded with stunning sights.

Our Trail of the Week feature is made possible through a partnership with Trail Run Project.

One of North America’s most beautiful mountain ranges is covered by a network of trails. One way to traverse the range is from Death Canyon to Teton Canyon by way of the Static Peak Divide.

This point to point combines several classic Teton trails, delivering full value in less than 20 miles.

The trail is maintained in outstanding shape the entire way, even over the rocky Static Peak Divide & Buck Mountain Pass. Be prepared for alpine exposure to weather & expect that snow may treacherously cover the trail into mid-summer, particularly in a few spots where sliding off the trail is not an option. Call the Grand Teton National Park ranger station for updates on trail conditions.The trail is entirely runnable, but allow time to stop and enjoy the seemingly endless wildflower fields, lakes and waterfalls that characterize Alaska Basin.

If you’re lucky enough to get dropped off at Death Canyon trailhead, start from there. Otherwise you may have to shuttle cars.

From Death Canyon trailhead, go west on Death Canyon Trail & Valley Trail. After about a mile of mellow climbing, you’ll come to Phelps Lake Overlook. Look west into the splendid and intimidating Death Canyon—you’ll be cruising between the huge cliffs that mark the lower reaches of the massive Prospector’s Mountain (11,241′) on the south and Albright Peak (10,552′) on the north.

From the overlook, you descend nearly to the lake, continuing west into Death Canyon. At the mouth of the canyon, slow down the pace through a ‘rain forest’ of dense foliage that is known to host high volume of wildlife, including moose, grizzly and black bears.

After another two miles, you’ll come upon the Death Canyon Barn (ranger cabin) on the left. Here, you turn right toward Static Peak Divide and the route’s climb begins in earnest.

After interminable, but gorgeous switchbacks, you’ll be high above Death Canyon, arriving on a saddle just northwest of Albright Peak with the valley below your feet to the east. Look far to the south and you’ll even see Rendezvous Mountain and the Jackson Hole Tram.

Keep climbing to the north on rocky, stunning trail until you get to Static Peak Divide, the route’s 10,800′ high point at the 7.7-mile mark.

The fun is just beginning. From here you’ll contour northwest on Buck Mountain Pass with that namesake monarch looming above you. Then, it’s across the boundary of Grand Teton National Park into Jedediah Smith Wilderness. Framed beneath you is Alaska Basin and Teton Canyon.

Eventually, you’ll leave the Basin, descending steeply at times through benches into more dense pine forests, following South Teton Creek to the Teton Canyon trailhead.

Cheers! You’ve just done a classic traverse of the Tetons.

The Data

Miles: 19.6

Runnable: 82 percent

Singletrack: 100 percent

Average Grade: 8 percent

Max Grade: 35 percent

Total Ascent: 4,383 feet

Total Descent: -4,281 feet

Highest Elevation: 10,788 feet

For a closer look, check out the interactive map, data, photos and virtual run simulator courtesy of Trail Run Project: