The tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is a great way to save a lot of time and energy. It travels up (and down) 4,139-feet in 15 minutes. While some may think it's cheating, using the tram really just allows you different access points and route variations, ranging from 7 and 19-miles and 4,000 and 6,000 vertical feet.
This route used to follow a service road the entire way. Not only was it hot and dusty, but it really did feel like you were walking up a service road, not a hike in the mountains. That was several years ago though. JHMR has since vastly improved the Summit Trail.
After you get past the top of the Teewinot Lift, which takes all of five minutes, the trail becomes a beautiful single track for about 2,000 vertical feet. If you time it right, wildflowers will be going off, butterflies will be flitting around, dust will be minimal, and the gradient is friendly, both for those going up and down. Relatively speaking, of course.
Somewhere around the gondola, the single track turns back into service road, although JHMR is working on fixing this. From the Gondola you can jump onto the newish Cirque Trail, which is single-track all the way to the top and quite beautiful. It'll take you into some whitebark pine forest with trees upwards of 1,000 years old!
Granite Canyon in the summer is exceedingly polite. The trail up it is about as mellow as you can find in Grand Teton National Park – not counting the trails encircling the lakes on the valley floor – there’s plenty of shade, and the resident moose are fairly well-behaved.
Almost five miles up the canyon, a trail to the village splits left. Fair warning: after climbing up the backside of Cardiac Ridge, you descend a few hundred feet before beginning the real climb --1,200 feet -- up the backside of Rendezvous Mountain.
Option 3: Granite Canyon to Marion Lake to Tram, 15 miles, 5,500 vertical feet, 5-8 hours up; 4-7 hours down.
For lack of better words, Marion Lake is freaking fabulous. Yes, there’s a 600-foot fairly steep climb just below it, but as soon as you’re lakeside, laughing at the obese marmots splayed out sunning themselves on the boulders by the water’s edge, you’ll forget the pain.
Leaving the lake, you don’t need to backtrack the entire 2.5 miles down the canyon to the trail leading to the tram. Instead, just over half-a-mile below Marion Lake, follow the signs for Moose Creek Divide. For two miles, you’ll walk across verdant, hummock-filled fields mostly above tree line, and perhaps you'll think you’ve been transported to the Alps. A trail to your left will head five or so miles back to Teton Village and the tram.
Note: Only Option 1 has you ending in the same place you start. Options 2 and 3 can be made into loops though. The Valley Trail between Teton Village and the Granite Canyon Trailhead is 3.9-miles with about 400 feet of climbing. Or you can set up a car shuttle.
Who is Going to Love It
Hikers who like options - there are lots of them here!
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The tram is located at 3395 Cody Ln, Teton Village, WY 83025.
If you hike to the top of the tram, riding it down is free. A ride up costs--depending on whether you can rustle up a coupon--between $25 and $30.