One of the most underrated hikes in the Jackson area is the trip up Taylor Mountain, which lies right between Jackson and Victor, offers views of the Tetons, Gros Ventres, Salt River Range and Wyoming Range, and is less than four miles each way.
Granted, it’s not an easy trip — you’ll gain about 2,800 feet, topping out above 10,000 feet — but for this type of view, you usually have to spend a full day hiking. If you’re motivated, Taylor Mountain can be done in an afternoon.
Taylor Mountain is located just north of the highway between Victor and the summit of Teton Pass. The mountain dominates the skyline for part of the drive toward Victor from the top of the pass and is a prominent landmark in Victor. But in an area where summiting a mountain often means going up the Middle or Grand Teton, Taylor Mountain is often overlooked.
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The main trailhead is about three miles west of Teton Pass and about nine miles southeast of Victor along Wyoming Highway 22 at the large Coal Creek parking area.
The trail heads north/northeast for about 2.4 miles, gaining elevation most every step of the way. Just beyond the trailhead, you will cross into the Jedediah Smith Wilderness. You follow Coal Creek for much of the route, first through a lower canyon before switchbacking up a hill into the Coal Creek Meadows. Abundant wildflower displays can be seen in this area, and some groups camp in the meadows. Taylor Mountain dominates the view to the northwest.
At the north end of the meadows, you’ll reach a junction. Continue along the main path to go over Coal-Mesquite Divide after 0.2 miles and eventually connect to the Teton Crest Trail. The trail to the left leads to the summit of Taylor Mountain. The sign also references Moose Creek Road, which is a trail that starts near Victor.
You will quickly begin switchbacking out of the meadow. You’re generally outside of the forest, so the views will open up as you climb. As you get closer to the top, you will arrive at a junction with the faint trail that leads toward Victor. From here, the route to the summit of Taylor Mountain is indistinct and requires some boulder hopping. From the “junction” to the summit, you probably have 20 to 30 more minutes to go, although the views from the junction are already pretty good.
From the summit, you have a really interesting perspective from the south end of the Tetons. You can also see past Jackson Hole to the Gros Ventres. You also will enjoy views of the Salt River Range, Wyoming Range and the Teton Valley of Idaho. There just aren’t many places where you can stand at the crossroads of so many mountain ranges.
To get home, retrace your steps.
So if you don’t have a full day, or it’s a little early or late in the season, or you just want to enjoy a sometimes forgotten view, don’t forget about the Taylor Mountain Hike. I’ve done the Taylor Mountain hike as early in the season as the Fourth of July without problems.