10,351-foot Taylor Mountain is a great bang for your hiking (or skiing) buck: offering expansive 360-degree views, and a feeling of being out there while never being further than several hours from a major highway.
Taylor Mountain could arguably be considered one of the Top 10 hikes in Jackson Hole. At the western base of Teton Pass, it is also a popular and formidable ski area in the winter. At the top, you’re rewarded not only with multiple descent options, but also 360-degree views and a feeling of being out there while never being further than several hours from a major highway.
What Makes It Great
Unlike its winter self, summer Taylor is approached from the east and north. After walking up Coal Creek, on the Coal Creek Trail, which leaves from the Coal Creek parking lot, you wind around and come at the peak from its backside, via a long, boulder-strewn ridge. There’s even a separate “summer” summit, more north on this ridge than the winter summit.
If you can pick out the tiny cairns amidst the rock jumble that is this ridge, you can stop at the summer summit and enjoy beautiful views due north of the Tetons—the East Ridge of the Grand is particularly pronounced—and east and west down into basins glowing with dozens of different shades of green.
But, if you stop here, the ridge continues to rise just enough to the south that your views in that direction are impeded. It takes an additional 10-15 minutes to get to the southern end of the ridge. From there, you will have truly 360-degree views, but it’s not just the final ridge that makes this hike spectacular.
Starting from the Coal Creek Trailhead at the bottom of the western side of Teton Pass (Highway 22), you wind your way through pine forest and along Coal Creek for the first bit. The climbing here is gradual, but don’t expect it to stay that way.
You leave the creek to climb up to Coal Creek Meadows. By the time you hit the meadows—which happens to be a beautiful spot to camp—you will have climbed just over 2,000 vertical feet in about three miles.
Towards the back of the meadows, the trail splits. The trail up to Taylor’s summit ridge is to the left (west).
From Coal Creek Meadows to the summit ridge, it’s about 500 vertical feet and one mile. In addition to wildflowers, white bark pines live in the upper reaches of this cirque. The trail takes you past a few that have to be upwards of 500 years old.
The summit ridge is rocky, but fairly easy walking. You can stay right on the ridge top all the way to its southern end, where you’ll see the peak’s very weathered USGS marker … if you can tear your eyes away from the snow-capped mountains in every direction around you.
Who is Going to Love It
This popular route rewards hikers with 360-degree-views.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
A quick note about the very beginning of this trail in summer 2014: We don’t recommend the trail directly north out of the parking lot. The log bridge on it across Coal Creek is down. And Coal Creek usually runs fairly swiftly.
Instead, head for the southwest end of the parking lot. The creek is easiest to cross here. There’s a bridge. Once you’re across the creek here, the trail gets into trees and heads north, where it shortly meets up with the trail north out of the parking lot.