5 Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Looking for the top Grand Teton trails? From short hikes in Grand Teton National Park or summit hikes, there are a handful of amazing day hikes in Grand Teton that you have to check out when exploring the park. When trying to decide which trail to blaze, you won’t be short on options. Grand Teton National Park has around 46 trails with some 200 miles of paths for you to hike.
With trails ranging from easy to strenuous, there pretty much is a hiking trail for everyone in Grand Teton National Park. But what hike is best for you? If you only have a few days in Grand Teton National Park, and love to hike, consider one of the below hikes a must-do. From alpine lakes, to glacier canyons and epic views, hiking in Grand Teton National Park is a treat. Really and truly, Teton is a hikers paradise.
Best Day Hikes Grand Teton
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Best Time to Hike Grand Teton National Park
Alrighty, so when to hike? The best time to hike in Grand Teton is during the early hours of the morning and during the summer months (June – September). The summer months bring warmer temps and help melt any remaining snow from spring. If you’re wanting to visit alpine lakes, as an example, it’s highly recommended you check with Park Rangers if the lakes are still covered with snow and how the trail conditions are at higher altitudes.
We made the mistake of not checking in with Park Rangers when hiking Delta Lake in early June. On our hike, we turned back halfway up the trail when everyone told us the lake was still completely covered in snow and the boulder scramble was practically impassible. We decided to come back in a few weeks to try again and it was beyond worth it! More on Delta Lake below. The moral of the story, check trail conditions when hiking.
The second tip is to start early. By starting early, you’ll have the trail and end destination practically to yourself. Most people tend to start hiking early morning (between 8-9) so if we can get to the trailhead before then, you’ll have a nice peaceful hike.
1. Hidden Falls To Inspiration Point
Hands down one of the best hikes to do for any first-timer visiting Grand Teton National Park is the Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point hike. It has its more challenging little uphill stints, but you get to see a waterfall and the ever-beautiful Jenny Lake. If you only have one day in Grand Teton National Park, this is a perfect several-hour hike that can fit into your one-day itinerary.
Ok, enough chatter. About the hike.
Make your way to Jenny Lake Visitor Center and follow the paved path to Jenny Lake. Once at Jenny Lake, you have two options. Option 1) Hike clockwise from the Visitor Center and travel along the lake shore for 2.4 miles. Follow signs to Hidden Falls and then onto Inspiration Point. Option 2) Take the Jenny Lake Boat across the lake and avoid hiking the 2.4 miles along the lake shore. Follow signs to Hidden Falls and then onto Inspiration Point.
The 2.4-mile hike along the Jenny Lake lakeshore is easy. While the path is not paved, folks in reasonable shape will be able to walk this with no problem. Once at the opposite side of the lake, you’ll carry on another 0.5 miles to Hidden Falls. If you feel like carrying onto Inspiration Point, which you should, it is another 0.5-mile jaunt up a steeper path. The last 0.5 miles up to Inspiration Point is the most difficult portion of the hike.
Going back you can go back the way you came, hiking along the lake shore until you reach Jenny Lake Visitor Center or take the Jenny Lake Shuttle. Running every 10-15 minutes, the Jenny Lake Shuttle is a fun little way to end your hike by getting ferried across Jenny Lake.
Hidden Falls To Inspiration Point Stats:
- Distance: 3.4 miles one-way without the shuttle | 1.5 miles, one-way with the Jenny Lake Shuttle
- Elevation Gain: 500 ft
- Difficulty😐 Easy to Moderate
- Optional Trail Extension: Cascade Canyon, Lake Solitude
2. Cascade Canyon Trail
Conveniently located just past Inspiration Point, you’ll find yourself in Cascade Canyon. Considered one of the most scenic canyons in Grand Teton National Park, you’ll be hiking along a bustling Cascade Canyon Creek as peaks of the towering Teton range surround you.
This is a great hike because you not only get to see Jenny Lake, but you have to pass Jenny Lake, Hidden Falls, and Inspiration Point to get to Cascade Canyon. A truly epic hike to see some of the best sights in Grand Teton National Park. The trail is pretty much the same the entire way, so you don’t need to hike all the way to the end of the trail (Forks of Cascade Canyon) if you want to shorten this hike. You can hike a few miles in and turn back to catch the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle.
Getting There: Follow the exact same route to as discussed above and once at Inspiration Point, keep following the path up into the Canyon.
Cascade Canyon Trail Stats:
- Distance: 9.1 mile, out and back trail
- Elevation Gain: 1,102 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Optional Trail Extension: Lake Solitude, Hurricane Pass, and Alaska Basin
3. Phelps Lake Overlook Trail
Phelps Lake Overlook is another great short and easy hike to add to your hiking list. Great for all ages and skill levels, you begin the hike at the Death Canyon Trailhead. You’ll carry on for two miles on a forest, dirt path and slowly make your way up until you reach the gorgeous, expansive overlook of Phelps Lake.
Getting There: To get to the Phelps Lake Trailhead, it is recommended you have a SUV or Truck – something with a little lift. You’ll be forced to drive about a mile down a very rough, unpaved dirt road to get to the Death Canyon Trailhead aka the trailhead you take to see Phelps Lake Overlook. You can put Death Canyon Trailhead into your GPS and it’ll take you here, no problem.
Phelps Lake Overlook Trail Stats:
- Distance: 2 mile, out and back trail
- Elevation Gain: 413 ft
- Difficulty: Easy
- Optional Trail Extensions: Death Canyon, Static Peak Divide
4. Death Canyon To Patrol Cabin Hike
After you’re finished taking in the view from Phelps Lake Overlook, we highly recommend you keep following the path into Death Canyon and not head back to your car. Oh and don’t let its night frighten you either! Death Canyon is a fantastic hike and a less popular one, making the trail less crowded by visitors.
After you leave Phelps Lake Overlook, you’ll start your descent into Death Canyon where you’ll pass by wildflowers, trees, and shrubs before ultimately reaching the canyon floor. You’ll follow along a river and eventually reach the other side of the canyon where you’ll begin your ascent to Patrol Cabin. You’ll wind up the canyon and are rewarded with fantastic views of Death Canyon and Phelps Lake.
Death Canyon was one of our favorite hikes in Teton National Park. It’s quiet and you’ll have a great chance of seeing wildlife (however, we didn’t see any) and have stunning views along the way.
Getting There: Follow the exact same route to Phelps Lake Overlook, as discussed above, and once at Phelps Lake Overlook, keep following the path into Death Canyon.
Death Canyon To Patrol Cabin Stats:
- Distance: 9.1 mile, out and back trail
- Elevation Gain: 2,122 ft
- Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
- Optional Trail Extension: Static Peak Divide
5. Delta Lake Hike
Delta Lake is an EPIC Grand Teton Hike and one of our, if not our favorite hikes in Grand Teton National Park. You’ll not only get fantastic views of Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake from above, but expansive views of the park as well.
The trail begins through the woods until you eventually reach our friends, the switchbacks. You’ll switch back up until you eventually reach an offshoot trail that will lead you to Delta Lake. The last mile, essentially once you start on the offshoot trial, is a doozy. You’ll pass over two massive boulder fields and do what everyone calls “the boulder scramble” before you scale a very steep ascent (no switchbacks, just straight up) where you’ll be blasted with AMAZING views of the blue waters of Delta Lake.
This hike is beyond worth the effort it takes to get there. Find a rock, take off those boots and if you dare, jump into the freezing alpine waters.
TIP: This hike is very popular so plan to start early – like 7am. Plus, the early the better because the trail is exposed to a lot of sun making hiking in the afternoon sun and heat, especially in the summer, a bit grueling.
Getting There: Enter Grand Teton National Park and make your way to the Lupine Meadows trailhead. Once at the trailhead, don’t be alarmed when you don’t see “Delta Lake” listed on the trailhead sign. Delta Lake is an unincorporated trail and in so, not recognized on trail signs. So getting here can get a little tricky and will require you to pay attention. Once the trail starts to switch back, you’ll need to count the switchbacks. Once you reached the 6th switchback you’ll see an offshoot trail to Delta Lake.
Delta Lake Hike Stats:
- Distance: 8.2 mile, out and back trail
- Elevation Gain: 2,349 ft
- Difficulty: Difficult to Strenuous
- Optional Trail Extension: If you’d like to extend your hike, you’ll need to make your way to the main trail and instead of heading back to the trailhead, carry on upward to reach Amphitheater Lake and Surprise Lake.
What To Pack for a Day Hike in Grand Teton
Being prepared for your day hike is super important. Below are the items we ALWAYS carry with us on day hikes. Not to mention the pack you are carrying these items in is just as important. Make sure the pack 1) fits you 2) has comfortable shoulder straps and 3) breaths against your back.
- First Aid Kit: Blisters are a nightmare. Make sure you have a proper first aid kit to bandage up any cuts, scrapes or blisters.
- Water: Bring more water than you think you’ll need. We always have a water bottle in the side of our daypack and then a hydration pack in our backpack.
- Snacks: Our favorite trail snacks are dehydrated fruit, snickers, trail mix, jerky, or any protein bar. Just make sure you have enough to food to keep you fueled for your day of hiking
- Layers: We always have a pullover in our packs. We definitely have been on top of peaks when the weather’s turned and temps dropped. Hiking in weather you are not prepared for blooooows.
- Tissues: A silly one but something I always have. Lauren here. I have allergies big time, so my eyes can water and my nose will get stuffy. Instead of just holding all that gunk in, I have my trusty tissues to let it out in.
- Sunscreen / Chapstick: Protect that skin of yours! You are going to be outdoors all day. Oh and don’t forget to put sunscreen on the back of your neck and the tops of your ears.
- Hiking Poles: Not a requirement but they definitely add support for those who think they may need it. Speaking from personal experience, switchbacks are easier (in my opinion) with hiking poles.
- Medication: If you require any medicine, plan to take it with you.
Also, it should go without saying, but please do not leave it as waste on the trail. Pick up any wrappers and carry any trash you have in your pack. At most trailheads, you’ll find trashcans where you can dispose of your waste once you are done with your hike.
Additional Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Ok, so below is a great little summary of hikes for any first-timer heading to Grand Teton. While we only hiked the above 5 trails, there are LOADS of more hiking options for you to explore. Hiking is a personal preference. Some folks like an easy nature stroll whereas others are gunning to get to the tallest peak.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, below is a good starting point in helping you learn about other hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
Best Grand Teton Hikes for Wildlife
If you are wanting to see wildlife on the trails, the best chance you’ll have is early morning, a time when animals are most active. For us, we saw a bear cub on our hike up to Delta Lake and a Moose (we’ll just its ears) when hiking Cascade Canyon. Honestly, seeing animals takes a little bit of luck, but they’re out there!
TIP: Something to consider having on you when hiking in bear country is bear spray or a bear bell. You can get bear spray in the town of Jackson or online. As for the bear bell, you can just grab any old bell and tie it to your pack. The jingling alerts the bears you’re near.
Short Hikes In Grand Teton
If you are tight on time, or just want to do a little hike vs a big one, below are some great short hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
- Lake Creek and Woodland Trail Loop: 3.3 miles round trip
- Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls to Inspiration Point: 3.5 miles round trip (with Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle)
- Phelps Lake Overlook: 4 miles round trip
- String Lake: 4.4 miles round trip
- Taggart and Bradley Lakes: 6 miles round trip
Best Overnight Hikes in Grand Teton
Looking to get out in the backcountry of Teton? There are some great overnight and multi-day hiking trips you can check out.
- Paintbrush Canyon + Cascade Canyon Loop: 21.9 mile loop
- Hurricane Pass: 22.4 miles, out and back
- Teton Crest Trail: 25.7 miles, point-to-point trail
PLEASE NOTE: If you are wanting to do any multi-day hikes, a permit is required. You can look at permit cost and availability on Grand Teton’s NPS site.
Hardest Day Hikes In Grand Teton
If you’re looking to make the most of one day, the below hikes are 3 amazing day hikes to check out. If we didn’t have our dog with us on our Grand Teton trip, we definitely would have conquered one of the below, very long but what we imagine, very worth it, day hikes!
- Alaska Basin: 15 miles round trip
- Lake Solitude Trail: 16.1 miles round trip
- Static Peak: 16.8 miles round trip
For those looking to get a summit hike in, definitely consider doing Static Peak. Standing at 11,302 feet in elevation, you’ll have some great views!
Grand Teton Hikes with Dogs
Unfortunately, hiking with your dog in Grand Teton National Park is not permitted. Dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails within the National Park. Luckily, there are plenty of dog-friendly hiking trails near Grand Teton National Park for you to conquer with your furry four-legged friend.
Check out our travel guide to dog friendly activities in Grand Teton National Park to help you plan your park time with your pooch!
Best Grand Teton Hikes for Families
While we ourselves don’t have kiddos’, we can’t recommend doing the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point enough. We saw a load of families on this trail. The kids will get to have a boat ride, check out a waterfall and see some amazing views of Jenny Lake. Plus, the trail isn’t all that difficult (easy to moderate) making it a nice trail to wear those kiddo’s out on.
Best Hikes in Grand Teton – Trailhead Map
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)