Paintbrush Divide hike

Grand Teton National Park
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Paintbrush Divide hike

Distance: 18.7mi
Elevation: 4,724ft
Time: 9-12h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.6 Overall Rating
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The hike to Paintbrush Divide in Grand Teton National Park is phenomenal. The steady climb brings you up from String Lake, through the gorgeous wildflower-filled Paintbrush Canyon and up to the most magnificent pass in the Teton Range. This long trail will take the entire day, so clear your calendar!

Paintbrush Divide hike Map

Getting there

From Colter Bay, head south down the John D. Rockefeller Parkway. At the first intersection, turn right down Teton Parkway towards Jenny Lake. After nearly 10.6mi, turn right onto Jenny Lake Rd. (indicated as North Jenny Lake). After turning right you will see signs towards the parking area, however to minimize the total hiking around the lake, you should continue straight towards the additional parking area. Continue as far as you can and park in the shade. These parking lots get very busy, as String Lake is a popular picnic spot, so get here early! You can also access this hike coming from Moose in the South.

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When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites




Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back

Paintbrush Divide
Elevation Graph

Route Description for Paintbrush Divide hike

Regardless of where you park, head towards the lake and turn right. You will continue around the water, crossing a wide wooden bridge over the stream that connects Leigh Lake to String Lake. The signs will point towards Paintbrush Canyon and Paintbrush Divide, and each intersection is well marked.

After crossing the bridge climb gently around the lake until you reach another junction. Again follow the signs for Paintbrush Divide and turn right. Now you are on the main trail up Paintbrush Canyon, and have no more major intersections to worry about. The trail starts the climb through the forest, keeping you cool as you go. We saw several berry pickers out, grabbing wild huckleberries.

For approximately the first 4.3mi of the hike, you’ll climb through the forest with few views except the wealth of lush forest around you. Odds are you will pass backpackers finishing the Teton Crest Trail. Ask any of them if you need motivation, and they will rave about the views from Paintbrush Divide.

The only deviation in the trail up to Paintbrush Divide is the small fork that leads to Holly Lake, which rejoins the main trail after less than 1.2mi. This deviation does not add extra distance to your hike, it only makes part of the trail a little steeper. The reflection of Mt. Woodring in Holly Lake, however, is easily worth it.

Past Holly Lake you will be fully in the alpine, with unbelievable views of the jagged Teton Ridges that line your vision. Grizzly and brown bears frequent the area past Holly Lake, so bring bear spray, hike in a group, and make some noise.

The last 1.6mi of the ascent to Paintbrush Divide is through a large screen slope. The trail, however, is quite well managed and switchbacks up nicely. Because this is a north facing aspect expect snow early in the season, and come prepared with ice axe and crampons.

Upon arriving at the wide, gentle plateau that is Paintbrush Divide you will be readily rewarded with stunning views down Paintbrush Canyon. The full grandeur of Mt. Woodring will become apparent, as will the true expanse of the Teton Range, including the menacing face of “The Jaw” back the way you came. Looking down and to the left you can see the tiny, teal Grizzly Bear Lake, and the start of yet another canyon.

You can continue down part of the way towards Solitude Lake and get a view down the North Fork of Cascade Canyon. Descending less than 328ft, look down to the right to find the larger Lake Solitude, and above it – below a cirque – the green Mica Lake. You will also be able to see a glimpse of Mount Owen and Grand Teton at the far end of the valley.

Return the way you came and be careful on the scree slope. It is a lot more slippery going down. However, one option is to combine this hike with Cascade Canyon by descending to Solitude Lake, then taking the trail to Jenny Lake. However each hike is so stunning that they warrant doing on separate days.

Insider Hints

  • Leave a bathing suit in your car. String Lake is a wonder to swim in, and you will be sticky and sweaty after a long 18.6mi day!

  • Start as early as you can. It is a lot easier to hike in the cool morning than in the hot afternoon.

  • Chances are you will need a warm jacket and a windbreaker at the top – it gets breezy.


RobS 4 months ago

paintbursh divide trail is a classic. i really loved it. fewer people due to the difficulty of the trail.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Sebo 4 months ago

Beautiful hike, very strenuous. Enjoyed it a lot.

9.0 Overall Rating
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10h 00m Time Taken
stocRob 4 months ago

Once again my wife and I have picked a hike that we've barely finished. Can't fault anything else just our old bones. The views were spectacular and would love to do it again if I were 20 years younger. Leaving very early is strongly advised

9.0 Overall Rating
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11h 00m Time Taken
Ronny 4 months ago

I don't say this often about nature but this hike was really something. I really loved the canyons and the forests. It was epic. And epicly hard as well.

10.0 Overall Rating
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10h 00m Time Taken
MadN 4 months ago

long and hard loved it

10.0 Overall Rating
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8h 00m Time Taken

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