5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
In contrast to the easier trails along Jenny and Leigh Lakes, this epic trail run wanders through two serene canyons resting beneath the highest peaks of the Teton Mountains.
Sometimes referred to as the Cathedral Group, the Grand, Middle, and South Teton peaks are visible throughout the run, as are Teewinot and Mount Owen—all standing tall above Cascade Canyon.
If you're looking for an epic 15+ mile run that doesn't require a shuttle, this should top your list. This loop shares a trailhead with Leigh Lake and String Lake.
The counter-clockwise direction probably offers the best views as the lighting changes throughout the day.
According to [TetonHikingTrails.com](http://www.tetonhikingtrails.com/paintbrush-cascade-canyon-loop.htm), "if you were to run into problems with weather or snow near Paintbrush Divide, this route would allow you to turn around and return to the trailhead faster." Snow and ice are still possible even through August, and it's suggested to contact a park ranger for the latest trail conditions before attempting the run.
Afternoon thunderstorms also pose a danger at the higher elevations and can even prove fatal if ignored.
Plan accordingly, and don't hesitate to turn around if the weather turns sour. In addition to an abundance of wild berries, Paintbrush Canyon "is known for its outstanding wildflower displays, including blue columbine, Indian paintbrush, and mountain gentian." Bears are especially common throughout the canyons, and the Forest Service suggests groups of at least three people to help deter encounters.
Bear bells and bear spray also come highly recommended. About 6 miles from the trailhead, the route reaches a junction with a spur that leads to Holly Lake.
Though the "views of the divide from the shore area are outstanding," according to TetonHikingTrails.org, "note that it can be fairly marshy around the tarn, so access may be limited depending on your timing." Whether you keep right to the lake or stay left (mapped) along the Paintbrush Canyon Trail, both merge back together and continue to Paintbrush Divide.
According to the article, "At 10,700 feet, [Paintbrush Divide] is one of the highest points you can reach on a maintained trail in Grand Teton National Park." The views from the high point are impeccable, the dramatic skyline full of jagged peaks contrasting the lush, swooping canyons below. From here, the remainder of the run is downhill, beginning with a visit to Lake Solitude.
Surrounded by steep canyon walls on three sides, the trail winds through the basin and awards endless mountain views as you descend.
After passing along the base of Mount Owen, the loop exits the mouth of Cascade Canyon then follows the shores of Jenny Lake back to the trailhead. Sources: http://www.tetonhikingtrails.com/paintbrush-cascade-canyon-loop.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teton_Range