Table Mountain is a peak in Caribou-Targhee National Forest that borders Grand Teton National Park and offers some of the most stunning views in the West. While Table Mountain is not in Grand Teton National Park, it offers some of the most incredible views of the park’s highest peaks. At the flat summit, which stands at 11,106 feet, you’ll find yourself staring directly at the 13,775-feet-high Grand Teton, the Middle Teton, the South Teton, as well Mount Owen and Teewinot. It feels as though you are standing on a bird’s nest, a very high one at that.
Because this is not in Grand Teton National Park, you don’t need to pay any park entrance fees. This hike is entirely on national forest land adjacent to the park.
How Long Is Wyoming’s Table Mountain Hike?
There are two trails that lead you eventually to the top of Table Mountain. If you take the Face Trail, it’s just over two miles shorter than North Teton Trail, but it is steeper and more strenuous. Using Gaia GPS, the Face Trail route is an 7.6 mile out-and-back. The North Teton Trail loop is 14 miles. Not to complicate things, but you can take the Face Trail up and take the North Teton Trail down all the way down to avoid the steep sections of the Face Trail on the descent. It will add a couple of miles onto the hike.
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Either way, both trails are strenuous because you gain more than 4,000 feet on this hike. It’s no joke, even for the fittest of adventurers. Having said that, the views make all the sweat and energy so worthwhile. Get started early in the morning, if you’re here in the summer. Summer afternoon thunderstorms are common in the West, and you don’t want to be above treeline if lightning is present. Aim to reach the summit and be on your way down before noon to be on the safest side of the weather.
To hike the Face Trail, you’ll start at the Teton Canyon Trailhead. After you walk for a little more than 2 miles, you’ll hit a fork where the North Teton Trail meets the Face Trail. Continue on the North Teton Trail, also known as the Huckleberry Trail, as it leads you on up through meadows of wildflowers and several waterfalls for nearly two miles before you reach the summit.
If you want to hike exclusively on the longer but more gradual North Teton Trail, you’ll leave from the North Teton Trail trailhead, which leaves from the North Teton Trailhead before the parking area and near the campground close to the Face Trail parking area. The trail gradually climbs through meadows to meet the fork where the Face Trail meets it. From there, you’ll continue on the North Teton Trail. This route is 7 miles one-way, 14 miles total.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife. Moose, bear, deer and elk have been spotted on or near the trail. With bears, you want to keep at least 100 yards between you and the bear. With moose, elk and deer, stay 25 yards away or farther to be safe.
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In the last stretch of this hike, which you’ll do no matter which trail you start with, you’ll hike up a scree field before you reach the summit of Table Mountain. It’s a tough last section, so be sure to eat a snack before or at the top to refuel for the hike down. Hiking down, you’ll retrace your steps. Or when the North Teton Trail route hits the Face Trail, you can take the North Teton Trail all the way down to the trailhead, which adds two miles but is less steep.
Because you’ll be hiking in the national forest, not in Grand Teton National Park, you can bring your dog with you. It does need to be on a leash the entire time since wildlife are often sighted along the trail.
See the webcam at www.tetoncam.com.
Where Do I Park for the Table Mountain Hike on the Wyoming/Idaho Border?
The Table Mountain hike is in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest just west of Grand Teton National Park. From Driggs, Idaho, you’ll take Ski Hill Road/Alta Road 6.3 miles. Take a right turn onto Teton Canyon Road for four miles to the trailhead. As you drive on Teton Canyon Road, you’ll be able to see the Grand Teton peeking over the mountains, as well as Table Mountain itself. The trailhead is called Teton Canyon Trailhead.
What Should I Bring on My Hike?
The first essential you need to bring with you is bear spray. This is bear country like everywhere in this area of Idaho and Wyoming. Keep your bear spray on your hipbelt, so it is easily accessible and be sure you know how to take off the safety and use the spray.
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It may seem hard to believe you’ll need a warm jacket and winter hat if it’s 75 degrees at the Teton Canyon Trailhead. Our advice is to defy your belief system. Because you’ll reach 11,106 feet when you reach the top of Table Mountain, you’ll want to pack layers. The higher you climb in altitude, the colder the air gets. And Table Mountain can often be windy and 20 or so degrees cooler than the parking lot.
Pack a rain jacket, too, to protect you from the wind but more importantly, rain. This is a long hike, and weather can change rapidly in the West. Sunny skies can give way to freezing rain within minutes, leaving you cold, drenched and very far from your car.
Bring a lot of water to stay hydrated and reduce the possibility of getting a headache from the altitude and dry air. Also, pack a lunch or snacks to avoid getting low blood sugar as you climb the steepest sections of this hike. Trekking poles can be really helpful on this hike.