|Horseback rider looking toward Gros Peak and Granite highline
Trailfrom Little Horse Creek divide, not part of this trip.
The assent/decent to the Granite Creek trailhead goes
over ridge in background left.
The Granite Highline Trail is often overlooked
due to Jackson Hole¡s embarrassment of nature¡s riches. It
is a beautiful high elevation trek up through the boreal forest
of Cache Creek and across the sub-alpine regions of the Horse
Creek Drainage and Granite Creek Drainage. A rugged, variable-length
day hike, or a 2-day hike featuring access to several high
peaks the trail is about 15 miles long. After the initial climb
on either side the trail remains remarkably level for most
of its length. Much of this trail is in open meadow with groves
of aspen and conifer here and there and much of the trail is
in the shadow of the Granite peaks above.
The western trailhead is outside the town of Jackson and is actually Cache Creek Trail for the first 8.7 miles; the Granite Highline Trail officially starts at the Gros Ventre Wilderness boundary at the divide between Horse and Cache Creeks. Before you get to the Horse Creek Divide a trail splits off to the north that can take you to the headwaters of Flat Creek, Cache Peak, or on to Turquoise Lake another great destination.
Clark Wheeldon looking towards Jackson somewhere above
the Highline Trail
From the Wilderness Boundary the Granite Highline Trail traverses the south side
of 11,180 foot tall Gros Peak maintaining about 9,000 foot elevation till it
gets to the Little Granite Divide This traverse has three trails that split
off to the south the first is at the divide and it drops you into North Horse
Creek. The second drops you into Blackman Creek and the third right before
the Little Granite Creek Divide drops you off into South Horse Creek all three
of these trails merge downstream. There is not any public access for Horse
Creek where it enters the Snake River near Hoback but you can access it through
Camp Creek 5 miles south of Hoback. This is steep country and this high elevation
traverse provides a great perch for the view.
Looking down into Horse Creek from Granite Highline Trail
After you pass Little Granite Divide the trail continues to hold steady at about
9,000 feet and here you get some great views of 10,808-foot Pinnacle Peak which
soon you will be traversing the south side of the south side of. Little Granite
Creek Trail splits off soon after the divide and is a quicker exit from the
Highline Trail. The trail holds steady until you get to where it begins its
rapid decent to the Granite Creek trailhead at 6,800 feet.
Just east of the Little Granite Creek Divide
The Gros Ventre Mountains are home to elk, moose, deer, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bear, wolves, mountain lion and many other species. Deer, moose and elk are spotted regularlythe rest are more allusive.
As the Granite Highline Trail follows no waterway accept
for the Cache Creek portion you really have to work for fishing opportunities.
I have no fishing
info on Cache Creek but I would thing there would be some in there. The North
Fork, South Fork and main Fork of Horse Creek all have good fishing for native
cutthroat, as does little Granite Creek, you will not find any meadow meanders
on these cascading streams, all of these are major detours from the Granite
Highline trail. Granite Creek has good fishing. A diehard fisherman could head
down the Horse Creek¡s North Fork then hook back to the Highline Trail via
the South Fork of Horse Creek, this is a good loop opportunity for those not
wishing to make Granite Hot Springs their destination.
The high alpine meadows of the Highline Trail have prolific wild flower displays in the summer months starting with the balsamroot in early June. As the season progresses fireweed, Indian paintbrush, and lupine proliferate.
Lower Horse Creek 4 miles below Granite Highline Trail
Granite Hot Springs a pool built by the WPA in the 1930¡s
below the towering peaks of Granite Canyon at the end of Granite Creek Road
makes pleasant conclusion to any hike in the region and is only about a mile
drive from the trailhead.
Directions to Trailhead: You can ride this without the use of a car from town. Ride/drive east from Hoback Sports towards the hospital on Broadway. Turn right onto Redmond Street and go south for about 1/2 mile. After riding uphill for 100 feet, turn left onto Cache Creek Road and keep going until the trailhead.
To get to the Granite trailhead from Jackson follow Hwy. 89 South to Hoback Junction. Go east on Hwy. 191 approx. 11 miles to Granite Creek Road and turn left. Follow this road to a parking area on the right at the junction of Swift Creek and Granite Creek.