6 Day Hikes at Grand Teton National Park With Views You Can't Forget13 June 2016
This year, we extended our Memorial Day Weekend even longer and took a week-long road trip out to the Teton Region of Wyoming with plans to visit Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Although I consider myself to be only moderately physically fit, hiking is one of my favorite activities while traveling. Lucky for me, Grand Teton is best experienced with a pair hiking boots. But with only two days to soak up these massive mountain views, we structured our time around quick day hikes to cover as much ground as possible.
INSPIRATION POINT & HIDDEN FALLS
|The view of Phelps Lake from the overlook|
Once you reach the overlook, you'll be treated to expansive views of Phelps Lake, but don't just stop here. For even better photo opportunities, continue on down the trail head as if you're going to follow along until you reach the shore. About 10 minutes in, you'll find a nice opening with grand views of the lake below. From here, you can opt to continue on down to the lake, or hike back up the way you came and call it a short, yet beautiful, trip.
STRING LAKE LOOP
3.7 miles RT | 2 hours | 325 ft. climb | Easy | Near Jenny Lake
halfway through, this is a great family hike. We suggest having a picnic lunch off the parking lot of North Jenny Lake where you'll find the Teton Range up close in all its glory, and then walking it off with the String Lake Loop. This trail simply follows the bank of the lake, with the option to veer off toward Leigh Lake as well.
Surprisingly, the terrain of String Lake Loop is varied. You'll trek along a path right next to the lake for the most part, sometimes entering into pinewood forests and climbing up to a grassy knoll with mountain peaks poking out above the tree line. This path is also a horse trail, so keep an eye out for where you're stepping! And if you're lucky like us, you'll get to watch a couple of marmots munching on supper up close.
|A glimpse of String Lake as we made our way around the loop back to the trailhead|
If you're keen to extend your String Lake Loop hike a little longer, follow the fork toward Leigh Lake, String Lake's twin, about 20 minutes into your hike. This is an out-and-back path through the forest that surrounds the east bank of Leigh Lake, with plenty of breaks to reach the shoreline. Make sure to bring your bug spray for this hike--the mosquitos are on high alert! As an alternative to picnicking at North Jenny Lake, you could pack your lunch and take a seat at a natural log bench along the lake and enjoy your meal with a stellar waterfront view.
This was the least busy hike of the ones we did at Grand Teton National Park. We'd have stretches of about 15-20 minutes where we didn't see another set of hikers! This trail takes you out to Taggart Lake and loops around past Beaver Creek.
Immediately, the path will fork, and although you can successfully finish the loop by heading in either direction, we chose to hike counterclockwise, heading up to Taggart Lake first. Shortly after setting out, the trail crosses a bridge over Taggart Creek with a cascading waterfall that you can practically reach out and touch! On your way up to the lake, you'll walk through lush forests of spruce, fir, lodgepole pine and aspen. At about 25 minutes in, you'll reach the Bradley Lake junction. Hikers have the choice to follow that route to loop around Bradley Lake--another glacial lake--before reaching Taggart Lake, but this will extend your trip by about another 2 hours. After another half-mile or so, you'll reach the shores of Taggart Lake with tremendous mountain views around you. We spent a few minutes admiring them from boulders along the shore before getting caught in a very light drizzle. From here, you'll be able to complete the hike in about another hour and a half, passing Beaver Creek before reaching the junction that takes you back to the trailhead.
|From the shores of Taggart Lake|
We started our final full day in Grand Teton at the Colter Bay Visitor Center to plan out our remaining hikes, and one of the rangers mentioned we could do a quick one that started just out the back door! At only an hour in duration, this was a great morning warm-up hike, as the trail is mostly flat and very easy to complete.
On this Lakeshore Trail, you'll follow a paved road that quickly transforms into a dirt footpath, curving around two connecting loops on the wooded peninsula that forms Colter Bay in Jackson Lake. Along the path, you'll find easy access to rocky beach areas that offer picturesque views of Jackson Lake and the mountains towering above it. Although certainly not the most spectacular hike in the area, it's a great option to break up more difficult ones you'll likely tackle during your trip.
TETON REGION IS BEAR COUNTRY
Grand Teton National Park is home to both black bears and grizzly bears, among other wildlife. As a visitor, it is our responsibility to heed the advice of park rangers for our own safety and that of the creatures we may encounter. We recommend staying on marked pathways at all times, carrying bear spray (rangers can instruct you how to use it) and attaching jingle bells to your pack. If you're traveling during a busier season like we did, try to hike within close proximity to others embarking on the same trail as you, as larger groups tend to make more noise and are less likely to startle wildlife. Strike up a conversation with your fellow hikers, or if you find yourself hiking without others around you, try clapping and singing. Avoid hiking alone, if possible, especially if you are an inexperienced hiker.
Please, read up on bear safety here. If you are traveling by plane, some National Parks offer the option to rent bear spray on-site, as you won't be able to fly with it. You can donate your unused canisters at any ranger station or to other travelers in need.