Rebuilding The Trails Of Grand Teton National Park

Heavy lifting and craftsmanship from a previous era combined to generate significant headway in the restoration of weary trails above Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park this year, work that should make the trails more resilient to hundreds of thousands of feet and weather vagaries of the Rockies.

The ongoing project, funded in large part through the Grand Teton National Park Foundation’s $17 million Inspiring Journeys campaign, had crews build roughly 1,500 square feet of stony masonry dry-stacked walls, an age-old technique that is as sturdy as it is impressive when you consider the time that goes into picking the right rocks for the right spots.

The focal point of this year’s work was the Inspiration Point Trail, originally hewn out of the landscape by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The restored sections of trail not only reflect the rustic nature of the original CCC trails, but are designed to cope with the Tetons’ weather: smooth, well-engineered channels of rock that serve as water bars are integrated into the stone staircases.

“Granite stones for walls and steps, crushed granite drain rock for structural fill, and fine-grained fill and topping material were hauled via helicopter to as near the point of use as possible. In all, over 500 tons—a million pounds—of imported rock was incorporated into the Inspiration Point trail in 2015,” Foundation officials said. “Locating granite material that blends with the Jenny Lake area is a project requirement. The material used for the Inspiration Point trail was sourced from the Teton Village area (just south of the national park) and multiple sources in Idaho.”

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