Backpack the Paintbrush Canyon Loop

Backpack the Paintbrush Canyon Loop

Paintbrush Canyon Trailhead

Distance

26 Miles

Elevation Gain

4400 Feet

Activities

Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Summer, Autumn

Type

Loop

Added by

Ryan Manuel

Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Backpack the this Teton Range loop and enjoy a night of beachfront camping on Leigh Lake.

There are many ways to access the Teton backcountry. However, one of my personal favorites is from Leigh Lake via the String Lake trailhead. From the backcountry office obtain a backcountry permit for 2 nights at Leigh Lake. Site 12 has some of the more impressive beachfront views of the Front Range.

Begin the hike at the String Lake Trailhead (6,880 ft.) Hike along the East side of the lake about 1 mile until you arrive at a junction, stay to the right and continue about 1.5 miles to the camping area (Site 12) on the shores of Leigh Lake. Wake early enough on day 2 to tackle all 26 miles of the Paintbrush Canyon loop. Hike South 1.5 miles from site 12 to the junction where you will take a right. Then hike 0.7 miles to the String Lake/Paintbrush Canyon Junction. Take a right and continue 4.9 miles up to Holly Lake (9,500 ft.) There is the option to camp at Holly Lake if 26 miles in a day is not your style. From here continue 1.7 miles to Paintbrush Divide (10,700 ft.) for a 360 degree view of the Teton backcountry. Begin the descent down 2.4 miles to Lake Solitude (9,035 ft.). From here take the Lake Solitude Trail 2.7 miles to the top of Cascade Canyon. Take a left on Cascade Canyon Trail and begin the 4.5 mile descent down to Jenny Lake (6,783 ft.) Stay left on the Valley Trail 1.4 miles along the banks of Jenny Lake. Finally connecting to the String Lake Parking area in another 0.3 miles. Remember if you plan to camp at Leigh Lake one more night you will still have about 2.5 miles back to Campsite 12.

If you’re looking for wildflowers and a bit of trail traffic, August is great. However, avoiding crowds means late September-October. Prepare for cold temperatures at high elevation, grizzly bear activity, and possible snow accumulations.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Nearby Lodging

From $279/night

Under Canvas Yellowstone

West Yellowstone, Montana

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Long Day Hike!

We actually did this hike as the pinnacle of our vacation. It took us exactly 12 hours to complete the loop with numerous stops along the way at Holly Lake, lunch on the divide, at quite awhile at Lake Solitude. I completely recommend doing this as either a day hike or as a multi day backpacking trip. The views are the best in the park and I sincerely count this day as one of the best in my life. Remember to make a lot of noise in the morning when you start to alert the wildlife you're up with them!

Incredible loop for running too. If you go early season (usually June) bring an ice axe for numerous steep snowfield crossings.

Distance

26 Miles

Elevation Gain

4400 Feet

Activities

Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Summer, Autumn

Type

Loop

Added by

Ryan Manuel

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike Paintbrush Canyon to Holly Lake

Adventure

Backpack Paintbrush and Cascade Canyons

Adventure

Paddle String Lake and Leigh Lake

Adventure

Camp on Leigh Lake

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