Please note that this post may contain affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost for you.
The Grand Tetons are filled with so many incredible hikes, however the Delta Lake hike was by far my favorite of the Grand Teton hiking trails. At 9 miles, with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, it is definitely a hike that will challenge you physically and mentally, however it is so worth it for the views at the top. It reminded me of hiking to Lago di Sorapis in the Dolomites or visiting Moraine Lake in Banff, two of my favorite mountain lakes around the world.
The basics on hiking to Delta Lake Tetons
- Hike Length: ~9 miles out and back
- Hike Time: 4-6 hours (not including time at the lake)
- Elevation Gain: 2,300 ft
- Elevation of Delta Lake: 9,000 ft
What to Pack for the Delta Lake hike:
Be Bear Aware
It is not uncommon to come across wildlife on the Delta Lake Tetons hike. The trail is located in bear country, so it is super important to be bear aware. I recommend always carrying bear spray, and knowing how to use it. If possible it is always best to hike in a group, rather than hiking alone. If you do hike this, or any other Grand Teton hiking trail alone, you may want to stay close to another group.
The weather in the Tetons changes dramatically throughout the day. When we visited in September, the temperature dropped below freezing at night, and then rose to as hot at 80 degrees during the day. For this reason, it is super important to pack plenty of layers. There is not a ton of coverage on the Delta Lake hike, with only the first and last mile of the hike offering a bit of shade.
When I started this hike at 8:30am I was wearing a jacket and a wool hat, but it didn’t take long for me to shed my layers to over a tank top! Here are a few of my favorite hiking layers:
As I mentioned above, there is not much coverage on this hike. Delta Lake itself sits at just over 9,000 ft, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re protecting yourself against the strong sun. While on this trip, I used BioClarity SunFilter on my face and BioClarity SunShady on my body. BioClarity is an amazing vegan skincare brand that I’ve been using for years.
Always pack enough food and water for your Grand Teton hiking adventures. I always use Vapur water bottles when I travel. These are my favorite travel water bottles because they fold up after use. I recommend packing at least 2 liters of water for this hike. I finished my two liters and also added a DripDrop ORS to my bottle to combat dehydration.
The lake is the perfect spot to hang out and enjoy a well-deserved lunch. However, remember to pack out any food that you bring in, and never leave your food unattended in bear country. This include any food scraps, such as fruit peels!
Delta Lake Hike
If you are interested in completing the Delta Lake hike, I recommend downloading the Alltrails app if you don’t already have it. You’ll find great directions and maps for trails all over the country. However, although Alltrails has this hike listed at just under 8 miles, I found that it was actually closer to 9 miles for the return trip.
The Tetons are becoming busier over time, with 2020 brining a record breaking number of tourists to the park. However the Delta Lake Tetons hike still remains a bit of a hidden gem. If you enjoy hiking, then Delta Lake should definitely be on your Grand Teton Itinerary. One of the main reasons for this is the difficulty of the trail, as well as the fact that the last bit is not maintained, so you can expect to crawl over logs and scramble over rocks to reach the lake. I’ll warn you now, the last .75 mile or so of the hike to the lake is brutal, with a steep incline.
Getting to Delta Lake
The Delta Lake hike starts at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead. Prepare to arrive early, as the lot typically fills up by 9am, and even earlier during the peak seasons. If you don’t find parking when you arrive, you will most likely be able to park on the side of the road. However, this will add additional mileage onto your hike. From the Lupine Meadows Trailhead you’ll want to follow the Amphitheater Lake Trail. The first mile or so starts out relatively flat, as you make your way through a wooded area, but you’ll soon start climbing. After about a mile you’ll turn right towards the Amphitheater Lake Trail, and start climbing along the ridge. From here you’ll have about six long switchbacks, with no sun protection, before reaching a smaller ladder on the right hand side. This can be easy to miss, so be during to keep an eye out for it. From here you’ll start the unmaintained trail, which is by far the steepest and most difficult part of the trail. This last section of the trail is straight up, as you navigate over rocks and steep dirt paths.
A note on altitude sickness:
Please make sure to always listen to your body. While I was in rather good shape when completing the hike, so I didn’t find it quite as difficult as some of the other hikers on the trail, I was greatly affected by the change in altitude. If you’re accustomed to living or traveling at higher altitudes, this may not affect you as much. However, when I reached the top I experienced all of the tell-tale signs of altitude sickness, from nausea and vomiting to dizziness and difficulty breathing. If you are experiencing similar symptoms, make sure to listen to your body and descend.
If you’re visiting Grand Teton National Park, here are some other articles that you should check out: