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    Holly Lake Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    20.0 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    838 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Holly Lake Hike boasts gorgeous alpine scenery. Gradually climbing through Paintbrush Canyon, abundant with wildflowers and wildlife, the path culminates at a crystalline glacial basin framed by Mount Woodring. A trip to the Grand Teton National Park would not be complete without a trek to Holly Lake.

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    Route Description for Holly Lake Hike

    The Holly Lake Trail is a demanding and dynamic adventure that offers spectacular scenery! Immerse yourself in the backcountry and revel in the variety of flora and fauna. Traveling deep into the wilderness, there is the possibility of wildlife encounters. One person in your group should have bear spray and know how to use it properly. Significant elevation gain, roots, and rocks obstructing the path, and steep climbs boast challenges along the way! Note the Grand Teton National Park charges an entrance fee; refer to the NPS website for additional information.

    Paintbrush Canyon is one of the most remarkable locales in the National Park, and Holly Lake is the cherry on top! Wander along String Lake then escape into the u-shaped glacial canyon abundant with huckleberry bushes, willows, charming cascades, blossoming meadows, and boulder fields as you hike the Holly Lake Trail. Offering a myriad of scenery, this trek is stimulating every step of the way. Enjoy wildlife sights, including bears, deer, elk, moose, marmots, pikas, and more, as you wander through the natural oasis and reward yourself with a refreshing dip in a glacial lake overlooking the mountainous landscape. While not the most popular trail in the park, this route is one of our favorites, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

    Embark on your adventure along the Holly Lake Hike from the String Lake Trailhead. Setting out from here, head south, merging onto the Jenny Lake Loop Trail. Tracking west, the path will cross a footbridge that offers great views of the Cathedral Group. Following the same route west, you will soon reach an intersection. Here, veer right, and you will be diverted onto the String Lake Trail. Wandering along the southern shoreline of String Lake, the route will cross another bridge before rerouting north. Gradually climbing away from the lake and into the lush mixed forestlands, you will encounter another junction, turn left onto the Paintbrush Canyon Trail.

    Curving around the slope of Rockchuck Peak, you will be granted an impressive view of Leigh Lake before escaping into the high country. The westbound trail will enter the mouth of the canyon traveling through a community of huckleberry bushes. Note that bears love huckleberry, so keep your bear spray handy as you progress along this segment of the hike. Soon the path will near a snowmelt stream which is adorned with beautiful cascades during peak run-off season.

    The exposed terrain along this route will bathe you in the sun, so make sure to stay hydrated! Marvel at the beauty and grandeur of the encompassing granite and metamorphic rock walls as you wander through the corridor of Grand Tetons. As you weave through montane meadows and dense forests, the terrain will become rockier and steeper. Mind your footing on the uneven terrain, and the route will eventually cross to the right side of the stream. Admire the charming cascades that decorate the streams as you make your way to the following intersection.

    Turn right here onto the Holly Lake Trail. Immediately after departing the junction, you will reach a small pond—don’t be fooled, this is not the lake. Continue your climb, and you will reach the beautiful glacial pool. Revel in the breathtaking alpine scenery that surrounds you, including the lake, Mount Woodring towering above, and the valley lakes below. Rejuvenate your tired feet in the chilly lake, rehydrate and rest. When you are ready to commence your return, simply retrace your footing along the path all the way back to the parking lot and trailhead.

    Trail Highlights

    Holly Lake

    Holly Lake is a gorgeous glacial pool in Paintbrush Canyon. Sitting at an elevation of 2,870 m in the Teton National Park, the lake is framed by craggy ridges anchored by Mount Woodring. Backcountry camp along the shoreline of the basin and wake up overlooking the alpine.

    Mount Woodring

    Mount Woodring towers above the Holly Lake and Paintbrush Canyon. This prominent peak sits at an elevation of 3,534 m, boasting awe-inspiring scenery. Usually dusted in snow until the middle of the summer, those yearning to summit the craggy mountain top will put their scrambling skills to the test.

    Insider Hints for Holly Lake Hike

    • Bring a swimsuit to cool off in the refreshing alpine lake
    • Dress in layers as insurance against changing conditions
    • Make sure at least one person in your group has bear spray and knows how to properly use it
    • Confident marmots will steal your snacks, so don’t leave them lying around!
    • Head out in the early mornings as afternoons get hot
    • Trekking poles might come in handy

    Getting to the Holly Lake Hike Trailhead

    The Holly Lake Hike departs from the String Lake Trailhead off String Lake Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground

      Backcountry Camping, wilderness permits required.

    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Holly Lake Hike Elevation Graph

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