The next best thing to climbing the Grand Teton is seeing it from Table Mountain, situated on the border of Grand Teton National Park and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness. It’s so close that you can make out the climbers on the other side even without binoculars. Here’s a fun fact: one of the first ever photographs of the Tetons was actually taken on Table Mountain in the 19th century. The beautiful landscapes shot during that expedition would influence the decision to protect Yellowstone as our first national park. Considering the popularity of the previously suggested trails, the Table Mountain Trail almost feels like a hidden gem in comparison. You won’t find as many people here like you would on Paintbrush, but not for lack of sights and thrills.
A strenuous but worthwhile workout
The first thing you should know about Table Mountain is that it wastes no time gaining elevation. This 11,100-feet (3385 m) giant promises another very exciting and strenuous hike in the Teton area with lots of great vantage points to soak up the nature around you. There are two ways to get to the summit — Face Trail and Huckleberry Trail — and the two of them combined form the 11-mile (17 km) Table Mountain Loop Trail. No matter which way you go, after finishing the loop you’ll definitely notice that it feels much longer than it really is, owing to the 4000 ft (1220 m) elevation gain.
The easier option — start with Huckleberry
Taking Huckleberry first is considered to be the easier option as you gain elevation more gradually. If you decide on going up the Face Trail, you’ll be greeted by a sign warning you that the route ahead is not maintained, after which the trail will steeply head upwards. But I don’t want you to think that Table Mountain is just one grueling stretch after another. In fact, the entire loop is filled with lookouts offering amazing photo-worthy views, while the wildflower fields will have your senses singing with joy. Standing atop the summit, I’m always overwhelmed by the glory of the Tetons rising majestically into the sky. The lighting is best in the afternoon, but at the same time you run the risk of getting caught in of Table Mountain’s frequent thunderstorms. Pay great attention to the weather and consider departing early in the morning so that you’re off the mountain by the time the storms come down.