Granite Canyon is a great hike into the Grand Teton National Park's southern region. The flat and open trailhead starts just off Moose-Wilson Road and meanders through an open meadow with the mighty mountains lying in wait.
Views abound to Granite, Open and Death canyons along the face of the southern Tetons on the approach to the first forests. The early part of the trail is mostly flat and tightly packed with pine trees. One of the best parts of this canyon is how quickly available are the backcountry campsites early on the trail. There are some terrific sites here, right near the creek, and many have awesome small waterfalls and the clearest water. The trail is usually not very steep, and there are lots of great places to stop and have a snack along the way.
As you head higher up the canyon, the forest opens up, and the canyon widens to allow sweeping views of the creek below and its surrounding meadows. The glacial-cut granite was heavily shaped until about 15,000 B.C. as the last ice receded. The many waterfalls along the canyon walls that run late into the year show how much snow this area gets.
There are many opportunities to refill water bottles along the way. Middle Fork and Upper Granite are two more backcountry camping zones accessible from splits in the trail. This canyon probably has as many sites to explore as any in the Tetons.
Bring bear spay and a bell. There are large stretches without other hikers, especially after a few miles on the trail. They say there are fewer grizzlies in the south Tetons, but experience dictates otherwise. Marmot, porcupine, hummingbirds, large birds of prey, and the adorable pika are all active here. In the summer there are wildflowers and different types of berries that the bears must just love. Open Canyon is located one drainage to the north and can be combined into a loop with Granite. It is recommended to do Granite Canyon first and then Open Canyon because of the steep switchbacks into Open Canyon. Alternatively, take the aerial tram at Jackson Hole Resort up in summer and hike down Granite Canyon. Marion Lake is accessible from North Fork Granite farther up the trail.