Grand Teton Hiking Trails: Everything you Need to Know
September 24, 2020
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When I first started planning my trip out to Wyoming, the one thing that I was most excited about is all of the amazing hiking trails that Grand Teton National Park has to offer. Our trip consisted of both Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, but the majority of our hikes were in the Tetons. The teton range is so gorgeous, with so many different places to hike and explore. If you’re planning a Grand Teton hiking adventure, you’ll want to take notes, or save this guide for later. This guide is all about Grand Teton hiking, covering all of the best hikes in the park for any fitness level to add to your Grand Teton itinerary.
What to Pack for the Grand Teton hiking trails
No matter which Grand Teton hiking trail you are following, you will want to make sure that you’re prepared. Grand Teton National Park is located in bear country, so it is super important to be bear aware. This includes carrying bear spray, and knowing how to use it, attaching a bear bell to your pack, and not hiking alone if possible.
Additionally, the weather in the Tetons changes dramatically throughout the day. When we visited in September, it 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.
Food + Water
Always pack enough food and water for your Grand Teton hiking adventure. I always carry at least two liters of water on me just in case, which I put in my Vapur water bottle to avoid any extra weight. These are my favorite travel water bottles because they fold up after use. I also carry a Sawyer Pump to filter water, when accessible. Remember to pack out any food that you bring in, and never leave your food unattended in bear country.
I always recommend wearing proper hiking boots, especially on the longer or steeper trails. I actually had to buy brand new boots for this trip, as mine got lost with my luggage, and I loved them. The boots are from Columbia, and they are waterproof and super comfortable!
The Best Grand Teton Hiking Trails
Delta Lake Trail
Hike Length: ~9 miles out and back
Delta Lake was by far my favorite hike in Grand Tetons. However, it is also by far the most challenging on this list, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re physically, and mentally, prepared. 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. Although the trail is slowly becoming more popular, it still remains a bit of a hidden gem. 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. The trail has an elevation gain of 2,300 ft, with the lake sitting at over 9,000 ft.
You’ll want to start at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead. Prepare to arrive early, as the lot typically fills up by 9am, and even earlier during the peak seasons. From the Lupine Meadows Trailhead you’ll want to follow the Amphitheater Lake Trail. The first mile or so starts out relatively flat, but you’ll soon start climbing. You’ll have about six long switchbacks, before reaching a smaller leader on the right hand side. This can be easy to miss, so be during to keep your eye out for it. From here you’ll start the unmainted trail, which is by far the steepest and most difficult part of the trail.
A note on altitude sickness in the Grand Tetons:
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.
The String Lake trail is one of the most popular Grand Teton hikes, as it is relatively short but still offers some of the best views. This was actually the first hike that we did while in the Tetons, and immediately fell in love with the park! The loop is only 3.8 miles and can be completed in either direction for awesome views.
Despite the trail’s popularity, there is still plenty of wildlife on the trail so make sure to see your eyes open. We actually saw a bear cross our path only 100 feet ahead of us. It is safe to say that I was pretty terrified, but luckily I had my bear spray ready just in case.
If you want to extend this hike, you can combine it with the Jenny Lake Loop, a 7-mile loop around the famous lake.
Taggart Lake Loop Trail
The Taggart Lake Grand Teton hiking trail is the perfect trail for any fitness level. It is a relatively easy hike, with some truly incredible views, located just off of the main road.
You can choose between doing the Taggart Lake Trail (out-and-back, 3 miles) or the Taggart Lake Loop Trail (loop, 3.9 miles). While the Taggart Lake Loop Trail is a bit longer, with a bit more elevation gain, I definitely recommend it. It offers more diverse views, the trail is less busy, and there are often wildlife along the trail (we saw a moose).
Hike Length: ~10 miles out and back
If you’re looking for a lengthy hike without too much elevation gain, the Cascade Canyon hike is a great option for you. The canyon trail is seriously one of the most beautiful trails that I’ve hiked!
You have a few different options for getting to the trailhead of the hike on Jenny lake that will affect the length of the trail. When you arrive at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking lot you can either hike 2.3 miles around the lake to the start of the trailhead, or take a quick boat across.
The boat costs $10 for a one way ticket, and $18 for a round trip ticket. We chose to purchase a roundtrip ticket for the boat, as the 10 mile trail was long enough for us! If you arrive early enough in the day, you may want to consider hiking around the lake to start the trail, and then returning on the boat. Just make sure to keep track of time, as the last boat departs the west side of the lake at 4pm. This will also allow you to get on the trail earlier to avoid some of the crowds, as the first boat doesn’t depart the east shore until 10am. The earlier you hike, the better chance of coming across wildlife on the trail. We saw a ton of moose!
You will pass two popular tourist spots on the way up, Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls, but after that the trail is typically a lot less busy. It is a rather steep climb up to Inspiration Point, but then the trail through Cascade Canyon remains flat throughout.
You’ll pass the best view, in my opinion, just a few minutes after you pass Inspiration Falls, so it is worth the extra hike up, even if you don’t want to complete the full 10 miles. Unlike many of the other hikes on this list, there isn’t exactly an end point of this out-and-back trail through the canyon.
Inspiration Point/Hidden Falls
This is an easy, but super busy trail on Jenny Lake. If you’re hiking to Cascade Canyon then you’ll pass these spots along the way. Personally, I found Hidden Falls a bit too crowded and not all that much to see, but Inspiration Point is quite beautiful.
Same as the Cascade Canyon hike, you can either hike 2.3 each way from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking lot to reach the trailhead, or take the boat across Jenny Lake. Once you reach the trailhead it is only about 0.5 miles to Hidden Falls, and another 0.5 miles to Inspiration Point.
There is a relatively steep climb up to Inspiration Point, so be mindful if you are afraid of heights!
A few tips if you’re planning some Grand Teton hiking trips:
- If you are camping and need to take a shower, head to the Signal Mountain Lodge. You can get a 7 minute shower for $6. Make it quick and two people can get a shower in during that time!
- Always arrive early, before 9am if possible, as the parking lots tend to fill up quickly! However, don’t worry if you are running late, as most lots have overflow parking along the road. When we did the Taggart Lake hike we parked about half a mile down the road, which added about a mile onto our hike.
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