Rendezvous Tram To Granite Canyon – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

Rendezvous Tram to Granite Canyon

The first half of the hike ranks with the best, but the second half may test your patience, calves, ankles and toes if you are heading downhill!

12.3 miles to Teton Village or 11.5 miles to the Granite Canyon Trailhead

Hiking time – Six and a quarter hours from the top to Teton Village with very few stops to rest

Dates We Hiked – Aug. 2, 2009 and Aug. 25, 2010

 Plan to hike to the Granite Canyon trailhead, if possible instead of Teton Village.  Next time I will try going uphill, but I only recommend it if you are in physical condition to walk six hours uphill with the last two miles being the most difficult. Your choices are to start the hike at the top of Rendezvous mountain by taking the tram ($24.00 in the middle of the summer of 2009 but some discounts are available), or start at the bottom and hike up to the tram and take what I believe is a free ride down (as of this writing the last tram was at 6:30 p.m.).

Most guide books suggest starting at the top and walking down, which is what I did, but most hikers we encountered were walking up.  The first two miles, were a very steep downhill with incredible views of back country bowls, some with left over snowfields.  Then the wildflower fields began and I felt we were somewhere in a land that combined scenes from the Sound of Music with the Wizard of Oz.  The wildflowers were knee high and literally were a carpet of yellows, blues, purples and reds that covered the landscape in fields that seemingly stretched for over a mile. After a little over 4.5 miles we entered the woods and after another mile and at least two bridge crossings over creeks reached the intersection with the Granite Canyon Trail (don’t be fooled when the trail seemingly turns in the wrong direction before reaching the intersection). I would suggest that anybody who is planning to eat lunch and take a break do so before entering the woods. Although it may seem silly to take a long break with more than half of the hike left, we found that once we left the open fields there were so many biting bugs after a few minutes at every likely rest stop that relaxing and eating were impossible.

After entering the woods, and at about the half way point of the hike, there was a pretty waterfall on the left. Later on, openings on the right treated us to views of avalanche chutes and granite creek, at times narrow and churning and others placid and comparatively wide.  Frequently, the trail brought us adjacent to the creek which allowed for cooling splashes which restored us.  Generally, the mountains on the right will be in view as you travel along the trail and eventually the valley below becomes visible.  However, don’t let your morale be dashed by thinking that you are nearing the end. Just when you may think you have reached the outlet, you will find that the canyon continues and you probably have a couple more miles to go.  Once you reach the end of the canyon, you will be confronted with one more choice: You can take the 1.6 mile trail to the Granite Canyon trailhead or follow the valley trail 2.5 miles to Teton Village.  We chose the Valley Trail and if I had it to do again I would have left a car at the trailhead and taken the 1.6 mile route out.  I know from past experience the path to the trail head includes walking through beautiful open fields with views of the Mountains and then hiking over a small hill before reaching the trail head (the walk from the trailhead to the entrance to Granite Canyon is a very nice 3.2 mile round trip stroll).  By contrast, the remaining 2.5 miles on the valley trail almost spoiled the hike.  There are no views to speak of, the path is mostly up and down in the woods and finally lets you out on Apres Vous Mountain several hundred yards up the beginner hill at Teton Village.  After over 4,000 feet of downhill, another few hundred feet of downgrade was definitely not what we needed. Nevertheless, the multiple options for beers at the bottom surely drew us forward!

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