Standing at 11,106 feet, Table Mountain straddles the boundary of Grand Teton National Park and Jedediah Smith Wilderness. Because the trail and peak technically fall under the authority of the latter, it’s a great option if you’re in the area hiking with a dog. Moreover, with stunning panoramas that overlook Grand Teton’s 13,770-foot summit, you get a fantastic look at the park’s iconic Cathedral Group peaks.
Two trails lead to Table Mountain’s summit – the Face Trail (#029/#024) and Huckleberry (North Teton Creek Trail #023/#024). Either trail can be hiked as an out-and-back, or the two can be combined for a 10.5-mile loop. The Face Trail is steep, gaining over 4,100 vertical feet in the 3.8-mile trip to the summit. Conversely, the Huckleberry Trail spreads the same elevation gain out over 6.4 miles.
We ultimately opted to hike the route as a counterclockwise loop, going up the Face and down the Huckleberry. While a sign at the beginning of the Face Trail warned that the trail is both steep and unmaintained, we found the path to be in excellent condition and not overly challenging. That said, if we’d come back down that trail, I definitely would have been using my poles to spare my knees.
The trailhead for Table Mountain can be found at the end of Teton Canyon Road in Alta, WY. The dirt road is nicely graded and there’s ample parking, as it’s also a camping area as well as the trailhead for the South Teton Creek track (#027/#028) to Devil’s Staircase and Alaska Basin.
Ascending Table Mountain via the Face Trail, the first 2.5 miles were pretty much entirely in the forest as the trail sharply climbed ~3,000 vertical feet. The grade lessened significantly, however, as the trail opened up and traversed an alpine meadow. The day we hiked, there were an enormous number of blowdowns across the grassy hillside. Most were easy enough to get over or just walk around, but it looked as if some major gusts had recently battered that section of mountain.
As we crossed the meadows, Table Mountain’s distinctive flat summit emerged in the distance. Approaching the table, the trail again steepened with a few sections of fairly loose scree. The final pitch to the top climbed just over 400 feet in 0.2 miles.
Given its proximity to Grand Teton – the national park’s highest peak – we expected to have some exceptional views. However, we were unprepared for just how epic those views would be. Grand Teton’s crooked summit dominated the view, surrounded by the neighboring crests of Teewinot, Middle and South Teton. We sat up there for over an hour eating lunch and just basking in the stunning scenery. A couple solo hikers popped up for a quick visit while we sat there, but there was very little traffic overall. Before even beginning our descent, I was already planning a return visit – both to Table Mountain’s summit for a sunset hike and to nearby Hurricane Pass, whose trail I could faintly discern in the rock-strewn slopes below.
As is typical with our outings, we met a greater number of hikers coming up the mountain while we were making our descent. Back at the fork for the Face/Huckleberry Trails, we took a right and headed down the latter to finish out the loop. Unlike the Face Trail, the Huckleberry Trail (North Teton Creek #023, per the sign at the junction) offered some decent views of Table Mountain’s summit on the way down, its diminutive flattop dwarfed by the towering crests of the Cathedral Group.
After descending a series of moderate switchbacks, the trail dipped back down into the forest, following the banks North Fork Teton Creek all the way back to the trailhead. This last portion along the creek was quite gradual, losing the final 2,600 vertical feet over 4.5 miles of trail.
Given I was planning a future return before we’d even left the summit, it’s safe to say we absolutely loved this hike. With the opportunity to see some of the national park’s iconic peaks while still bringing our trail-loving pup along for the adventure, Table Mountain was just flawless.
Total distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation gain: 4,133 feet
Note: Trails for Table Mountain as well as others within the Jedediah Smith Wilderness can be found here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5403629.pdf.