ADVERTISEMENT

Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon

Made possible by
Marmot

About

Summary

Paintbrush Canyon and Cascade Canyon are two of the most spectacular destinations in Teton National Park, and the loop that connects the two is one of the best hikes in the nation.

Written by

Dina Mishev

Distance

18.0 miles

As a loop, it's 18 miles. As an out-and-back from the String Lake Trailhead, it's about 16-miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

13.2 miles

Difficulty

4 of 5 stars

Quite a bit of climbing, and at 18-miles, it'll leave the legs feeling pretty weary afterwards.

Time To Complete

Half day- overnight

Seasonality

Proper snow safety precautions required during winter.

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

If overnighting, yes.

Topographical Map

Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon

Review

Picking a favorite canyon to hike in Grand Teton National Park is not easy, and it shouldn't be done lightly. But Paintbrush Canyon and Cascade Canyon certainly rank amongst the top, and it's no surprise that the 18-mile loop through the both of them is one of the more popular loops in the park. It's one of the prettiest hikes in the nation. 

What Makes It Great

Between the huckleberry bushes and wildflowers at the bottom of Paintbrush Canyon, to the snowy couloirs slicing down the north faces of Mt. St. John, The Jaw, Holly Lake, and all the streams in the upper canyon, well, not many other canyons in the park can compare. 

And the fact that it's a loop—where you can walk up Paintbrush Canyon to 10,700-foot Paintbrush Divide (8.3 miles) and then drop down to Lake Solitude and exit the north fork of Cascade Canyon rather than retrace your steps—that's just icing on the cake.

Who is Going to Love It

Depending on your desired activity, the direction you go could make a world of difference. When trail running, it's better to ascend Cascade Canyon first, as it has a gentler grade and won't kill your legs and lungs like Paintbrush can. 

If savoring the scenery, however, on a hike or backpacking trip, then going up Paintbrush and down Cascade is probably the better option, as this will yield unbelievable views of the Cathedral Group. Also, Lake Solitude is at the perfect spot for a halfway-point dip. (Know that Paintbrush Divide is not this loop’s mid-point. From the divide, it’s about 11 miles back to the String Lake parking area via Cascade Canyon and about eight miles via Paintbrush Canyon.)

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

This loop can be done in a single day whether running or hiking, but if you'd rather make it an overnight trip, the Upper Paintbrush camping zone is a truly special destination, with mountains hulking in every direction and nearby Holly Lake just waiting for swimmers. 

Park at the String Lake Trailhead off the scenic drive north of Jenny Lake, if you choose to start with Paintbrush Canyon. 

Location

Paintbrush to Cascade Canyon

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park, WY, 83012
43.784983, -110.72767

Get Directions