Visit a pretty falls in the Tetons

Ripe huckleberries are beginning to show along the Moose Creek trail on the west slope of the Teton Range. (Jerry Painter photo)

Moose Creek Falls is about 6 miles up the Moose Creek trail on the west side of the Teton Range. The small falls cuts between a limestone slot. (Jerry Painter photo)

You can always count on a fun hiking experience in the Tetons.

Just about any canyon trail on either side of the range offers a stellar outing.

On Saturday, I decided I wanted to see Moose Creek Falls.

Moose Creek is on the southern end of the range east of Victor. To get to the trailhead, take Highway 33 southeast for 3 miles as if you’re going over Teton Pass. Turn left (north) at a sign indicating Moose Creek. There are also signs for the Moose Creek Ranch up this canyon. Follow the main road up the canyon. The road becomes gravel when it enters Forest Service land. After a mile or so, you’ll cross the Idaho-Wyoming border. (Despite what a lot of people say, all of the Tetons are in Wyoming.) Follow this road to where it ends at the Moose Creek Trailhead.

The Moose Creek trail is mostly gentle at least for the first 5 miles, allowing hikers to cover a lot of ground in short order. Right now, there is a lot of green and blooming wildflowers. There are a few short side trails leading to the creek where anglers no doubt try their luck.

I found some ripe huckleberries along the trail, but I also found several that were still green. Perhaps our wet spring has pushed the season a week or so later.

After about 1.5 miles, the trail crosses the creek on a well-made foot bridge (horses get an alternate route through the creek). Just past the bridge I saw a large buck bounding off the trail. Then later, a garter snake on the trail. Neither stuck around long enough for a photo.

There is some beaver activity in some of the small meadows along the creek.

After 4.8 miles (according to the trail sign), you come to a junction with the Coal Creek Trail, which heads south steeply over a pass and back down to Highway 22 in about 4 miles. Also at this junction area is a large meadow filled with willow brush. There is a nice campsite just off the trail overlooking the meadow.

From the meadow, continue up the trail about a third of a mile to a wet crossing of Moose Creek. This was my least favorite part of the hike. I didn’t bring sandals to slip into, so I took off my shoes and crossed barefoot. I groaned in pain. The combination of super cold water and rocky stream bottom just hurt.

Nearly another mile up the trail, look for a small side trail that heads left down along the stream. This trail takes you to the base of Moose Creek Falls. The falls are not particularly tall or expansive, but do shoot through an interesting limestone slot — like two bookends. I estimate it at 30-plus feet high.

If you continue up the trail a few more miles, you will come to Moose Lake. The trail continues into Grand Teton National Park and hooks into the Teton Crest Trail.

Because the skies drizzled on and off throughout the day, the wet brush along the trail left my hiking shorts soaked. I found that I preferred the occasional drizzle to a hot, cooking sun. Now that the mosquitoes are fewer, this is a great time to visit the Tetons.

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The PUTS trail-running race will be held Friday and Saturday in the Snake River Range near Palisades Reservoir. Four events will take place starting at the Big Elk Creek Trailhead near the YMCA Summer Camp: A 100-mile trail race, a 50-mile trail race, a marathon and a half-marathon. The first two events start Friday and continue into Saturday. The last two will be held on Saturday.

For more information about these events, go to palisadesultra.com.

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