GET OUT: Delicious Adventuring

By on August 2, 2016

Cream Puff Peak is for the every day mountain man and woman.

Grand, lush views from the summit of Cream Puff Peak. (Photo: Matt Berman)

Grand, lush views from the summit of Cream Puff Peak. (Photo: Matt Berman)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – For some, the words “cream puff” conjure sweet thoughts of guilty indulgence. If you like to play in the mountains, however, these words are also fitting to describe the easily hiked mountain south of Hoback Junction.

If you don’t have the time, energy, or backcountry partners for a foray in the Tetons, Cream Puff Peak, located in the Gros Ventre, might be a good option. The hike is still challenging, too. In seven miles, you’ll gain more than three thousand feet of elevation. However, hikers should take caution during prolonged exertion in the area due to smoke from forest fires.

Less than an hour from town and easily conquered by high-energy dog companions, Cream Puff’s lack of fame is surprising. This is perhaps because, like many of its Gros Ventre neighbors, it is overshadowed by the Teton Range. It is also partly due to its somewhat mysterious locale—the trailhead sits at the end of a completely unmarked gravel road. But you’ve driven past it every time you’ve visited Granite Hot Springs or ventured into the Wind River Range. The greatest part about that unmarked road: it’s only a few hundred yards long, not 10 miles like the next road to the south.

So you’ll be there soon. (You could be there in an hour from this very moment.) And since the road has no sign, you won’t see one-tenth of the people you’d see at other trailheads. That’s a good thing considering there’s only one-tenth of the parking.

But before we get too carried away talking about how easy this peak is to walk up, remember we are using the term “easy,” relative to other hikes in the area. It’s still seven miles and more than three thousand feet to the top, making for a 14-mile round trip hike that will leave you satisfied and tired. So while this hike is for those who don’t want to take too much risk, wake up before sunrise, or carry their body weight in climbing gear, it can still be a solid workout. And while it may not be the Grand Teton, you can definitely admire Grand views from the top, as well as many other peaks in the area.

One word sticks out when I think about the summit of Cream Puff: Colorful. The chunky rocks at the top are bright pink and grey dotted with green lichen. The distant mountains are blue and green. Wildflowers of all colors line the trail. So this peak is colorful in several ways. Webster’s Dictionary defines “colorful” as “interesting,” “exciting,” and “full of interest.” And it’s also literally colorful, especially when the wildflowers are in bloom and the sky is not engulfed in a massive plume of forest fire smoke.

So the next time you’re thinking about torturing yourself in pursuit of adventure and mountain views, consider a walk up Cream Puff Peak. Even if you tend toward long and grueling Teton adventures, Cream Puff promises a workout, great views and the leisures of sleeping in. PJH

About Matt Berman

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