Static Peak Divide – 16mi / 25.8km
The panoramic views of Death Canyon and Jackson Hole from high up on the divide are incredible, but they must be earned. This trail starts in a lush forest, and crosses many feeder streams as it works its way up. The forest gradually gives way to more open landscapes and glimpses of the surrounding mountains before climbing up to Phelps Lake Overlook at the top of the ridge. Phelps Lake stretches out below you from this picturesque perch.
Continue on through the trees and open meadows as you switchback down into the valley below. The mighty walls of Death Canyon come into view as you get closer. Stay right at the junction to turn up towards the canyon, eventually coming up to the unnamed creek that exits the canyon. The climb up through the canyon is a combination of trees and boulder fields alongside the creek. Views back out the canyon give you fleeting glimpses of Phelps Lake, while the scenery into the granite walled canyon is stunning.
The creek is a constant cascade of waterfalls through the boulder fields. Eventually the trail begins to level out as you enter into the upper stretch of the canyon. The creek slows and the vegetation grows tall. The trail for Static Peak Divide breaks off just past the patrol cabin. You switchback up through a pleasant mix of trees, meadows, and tall shrubs. As you pause to look out east over the valley, the noteworthy, broad Death Canyon Shelf at the head of the canyon comes into view. To the southeast, the dominant feature is Prospectors Mountain with its rocky aspects.
The trail reaches a saddle with a bird’s-eye view of Phelps Lake as well as southeast towards the town of Jackson. It then traverses to another saddle with views to the northeast. You leave the taller vegetation and trees of the subalpine and enter the low growing, alpine vegetation and rocky landscape as you switchback up onto the ridgeline. The views get more incredible with each step. Rimrock Lake, tucked high up on Prospectors Mountain comes into view.
The trail finally levels out for a bit as it traverses to the divide. The sloping south-facing aspect of Static Peak is a humble looking summit from this vantage compared to the precipitous cliffs on the north face. As you straddle the ridgeline, the views to the east and west are nothing short of breathtaking. Explore this top-of-the-world perch before heading back down.
Trailhead: From Moose, head south on Moose-Wilson Road for approximately 3.1mi/5km then head north on the paved road with a sign for the Death Canyon Trailhead. At the end of the paved road, take a left and drive on the dirt road for approximately 1mi/1.6km to the trailhead at the end. (Note: This dirt road is extremely rough and requires a high clearance vehicle. You may need to park your vehicle near the beginning of the dirt road and walk the road to the trailhead.)
Elevation Gain: 5,000ft / 1,500m – Elevation Loss: 5,000ft / 1,500m