The Gros Ventres Range is home to some really great hiking trails, and one of these is the Shoal Falls Trail in the Shoal Creek Wilderness Study Area. This roughly 10-mile roundtrip out-and-back features a beautiful waterfall at the terminus.
What Makes It Great
From the trailhead to the falls is about 5-miles. This only takes you to the base of the falls though. There is a trail – steep and loose – to the top of the falls, but most people don't hazard it, as the views from the bottom are better anyway.
The majority of the falls are hidden behind a fin of rock that you can’t see around until you’ve descended to the valley floor, about 500 feet below the trail’s highpoint. You can see sections of the falls before you’ve made it all the way down, and you may even be tempted to say you've seen enough and turn around before making it all the way down, but this would be a mistake.
Hike down to Shoal Creek and you’ll be rewarded with not only a vantage point that showcases the entire 200-300 foot height of the falls but also a perfect picnic spot. From there, you’re still not at the base of the falls – that’s about another 1.5 miles – but this is still a good place to turn around.
On the way back, enjoy the trail as it undulates through open meadows and hillsides dotted with aspen trees and boulder peaks to the north. And then go and enjoy a soak in Granite Hot Springs- a 103-degree pool located only a mile up the road from the Shoal Falls trailhead.
Who is Going to Love It
Waterfall fans will love this hike!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to the trailhead, drive south on U.S. 191 to Granite Creek Road, about 24 miles south of Jackson. About 10 miles down this well-maintained dirt road, you’ll pass a sign for the Safari Club on your right. Don’t take that right, but start paying attention. A few minutes later, you’ll pass another sign for the Safari Club and also a trailhead. Turn right here. The road drops down to the creek, crosses it and then forks.
The trailhead is to the left and is well signed. The trail is well maintained, although not marked with distances, the entire way to Shoal Falls. If you get to Granite Hot Springs, you’ve gone too far.