Garnet Canyon is a beautiful, rugged and steep trail in the Grand Tetons that begins at the popular Lupine Meadow Trailhead. There are waterfalls, great views of the valley, wildflowers and some truly dramatic peaks. Their jagged tooth-like edges were cut by glaciers over eons. Life struggles to find a foothold on this semi-desolate canyon. The hike isn't long, but it gets steep after the initial walk through the flat meadows. The switchbacks cut along the face of the mountain and give you great views of the valley and lakes below. You are led into the canyon relatively late into the hike. It's near the end that you are really confronted by a mighty bowl of mountains with Cleft Falls cascading below. This is a great trail for someone looking for an accessible hike that provides views that usually only true mountaineers get to see.
As you walk the lower meadows, you will catch glimpses of Grant Teton and Mount Owen through the heavy vegetation. After 1.7 miles you will reach the fork for the Valley Trail down to the lower lakes. Another fork in the trail at the 3-mile mark will take you to Garnet Canyon to the left or Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes by staying straight. Most of the hike up to this point consists of wildflower-heavy switchbacks looking onto Bradley and Taggart Lakes. As you approach the canyon you will be surrounded by three imposing peaks: Nez Perce to the left, Middle Teton in the middle, and Disappointment Peak on the right. One of the most unusual natural features you come across, which looks fake or man-made, is a distinctive dike in the face of the Middle Teton. This feature is a giant and straight vertical cut of basalt that intruded into the granite of Middle Teton, and it is a favorite feature for climbers.
You can continue another mile into the canyon to reach "the meadows" as well as endless climbing and mountaineering opportunities. Spalding Falls and backcountry campsites are also located further into the bowl. Bring your bear spray and exercise caution, remember that hiking steep trails at high elevations can lead to exhaustion, and be prepared for unpredictable weather as well.