Bears are active in Grand Teton
Black and grizzly bears are roaming throughout the park--near roads, trails and in backcountry areas. Hikers and backcountry users are advised to travel in groups of three or more, make noise and carry bear spray. Visitors must stay 100 yards from bears. More »
Area closure in the area around Baxter's Pinnacle
An area closure is in effect around Baxter's Pinnacle to protect nesting peregrine falcons. This closure precludes any climbs of Baxter's Pinnacle and usage of the walk-off gully. This closure will be in effect through 8-15-2013. More »
Hike the Polecat Creek Loop - Countdown: 30 Days
July 26, 2012
2.5 miles round trip, 1.5 hours, easy
This level trail offers visitors a loop through forest and wetland areas with a chance to see wildlife along Polecat Creek.
Trailhead directions: Sixteen miles north of Colter Bay Junction, turn left (west) at the Flagg Ranch/Grassy Lake Rd sign. Take the first right, and park in the large parking lot near the horse corral and the information station.
The trail begins across the road from the north end of the parking lot. The trail starts through open lodgepole pine forest. Open spaces between trees allow sunlight to reach the forest floor, aiding the growth of wildflowers such as harebell and sulphur buckwheat.
After 0.4 miles, the trail comes near a ridgeline, offering views of meandering Polecat Creek and pond areas. Ducks and other waterfowl can be seen on the water, often with a brood of ducklings trailing closely behind. In the early or late hours look for ripples in the water caused by beavers, muskrat, or otter, all of whom burrow along the creek's banks.
Eventually the trail goes behind Polecat Creek and heads north and east into the forest. In this more mature conifer forest, look for limber pine and douglas fir trees beginning to grow underneath the lodgepoles.
At the next trail junction, turn right to walk 0.5 miles to the parking lot and complete the loop, or continue straight to connect to the Flagg Canyon Trail.
Did You Know?
Did you know that Grand Teton National Park was established in both 1929 and 1950? The original 1929 park protected the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base. The boundaries were later expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent valley floor.