GET OUT: Explore, enjoy Greys River Road

By on April 23, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – During the 14 years I have lived in Alpine, Greys River Road has become my road most traveled. Well, maybe the second road most traveled if you include the daily commute through the Snake River Canyon.

A hike in the backcountry even a chihuahua can manage. Photo credit: Jeana Haarman

A hike in the backcountry even a chihuahua can manage.
Photo credit: Jeana Haarman

The 82-mile long Greys River Road is a treasure of peaks, valleys, canyons, rivers, creeks, springs, wildflowers and wildlife and I’ve come to consider it an extended backyard, as familiar to me as the Tetons must be to those who live in Jackson Hole.

Sunday’s weather was off and on, but we were determined to head up the Greys River Road for the first time this spring. The road still is only cleared to the five-mile marker, but our destination was a trail just north of the Squaw Creek Bridge, which is only 3.5 miles in. There is plenty of open and free camping in this area, lots of Utah license plates too.

I had not explored this canyon before, discouraged by the family gatherings that always seemed to be occupying the area and never knew there was a trail there. Our regular destination is to the south of the bridge to the Squaw Creek Trail, which leads to Stewart Peak.

The area offers great hikes to craggy peaks, alpine meadows and mountain lakes. This hike is no different. If you make it to the ridgeline, the reward is a view of Stewart Peak, which sits at an elevation of 10,026 feet. The distance is only three miles but the elevation gain is enough to view the vast backcountry.

We brought 15-year-old Romeo, the last remaining chihuahua of a family of four, to enjoy the fresh air so the hike ended up being more about taking in the views and enjoying a few chocolate bon bon’s and coffee. I have a front-pack dog carrier, but it is kind of bulky so we opted to take turns carrying him when he would let us know he needed a rest. He would just stop and sit down. He did great for his first hike out this spring and I thought I did pretty well too.

The hike is a steady incline – not too steep and not too tame – perfect for a pre-season warm up. As we meandered up the trail, through the pines and the bare aspens, the weather came and went. There was snow and some rain, but mostly is was just cloudy. When the sun did poke out it was a welcome sight and a blessing to say the least.

Moose and elk proliferate this area and on that day we caught a glimpse of a herd of elk just before my chatter spooked them off. We did not come across any moose, but hiked through plenty of scat. As darker clouds rolled in we began our descent and had to really hoof it to make it out before the hard rains came. The trail was already muddy, and we had to watch our step due to the slippery conditions.

Romeo did better on the way down, gravity pulling him even quicker than my feet would carry me. He usually follows my footsteps to stay on the trail as his eyesight isn’t the best, but he passed me a few times.

Sure enough, as we reached the trailhead there appeared to be a family reunion in progress. I counted 12 cars with Utah plates and about 40 people huddling under tents and conversing around a large bonfire. We headed across Greys River Road to check out Squaw Creek flowing into the Greys River. The clean crisp fresh water of the creek flows into the slightly less clear waters of the Greys. The run-off this year so far has been slow and steady, delaying the truly muddy waters that will be seen in the coming weeks.

It was exciting to venture down the Greys so early in the spring, and I look forward to getting farther down the road as the weather clears. The Greys is also a great place for fly fishing and, for the more adventurous, Snaggletooth is a great place to ride the waves. For Alpinites, Greys River Road is one of the reasons we choose to live here, as well as the Palisades Reservoir it flows into. See you on the next hike!


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