So you are visiting Grand Teton National Park, and you want to know which are the top day hikes you should experience while you are there? After all, you want to make the most of your trip, and there is so much to see and do in this park’s rugged and adventurous trails! Plan the perfect hiking itinerary with this guide to the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
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Table of Contents
Guide to the 8 Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
These are the 8 best day hikes in Grand Teton! Keep reading to find out exactly why each one made the list!
- Jenny Lake Trail
- Taggart Lake Trail
- Bradley Lake Trail
- Cascade Canyon Trail
- String Lake Trail
- Leigh Lake Trail
- Phelps Lake Trail
- Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake
- Mormon Row
Notice a trend here? Most of the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park tend to incorporate the two most beloved characteristics of this park – mountains and lakes! Why are there so many lakes in Grand Teton National Park? The constantly molding elements of this region, like snowmelt, and the past glacial history of this park, have come together to create the perfect combination of towering, rugged, mountains that are being perfectly reflected off of the still and pristine waters of its many lakes. No matter where you go in Grand Teton National Park, you are guaranteed breathtaking views, which is what makes this National Park so endearing to those that explore its trails. And these qualities are exactly what make these the 8 best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
Map of the Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
Use this map of all 8 of the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park to help plan your hiking itinerary and your visit!
Know Before You Go
- Location: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (Google Map)
- Closest Town: Jackson, Wyoming (Google Map)
- Closest Airport: Jackson Hole Airport (Google Map)
- Entrance Fees: $35 per vehicle (good for 7 consecutive days)
- Hours: open 24 hours a day daily (be aware of seasonal closures – more details HERE)
- Pet Policy: pets are not allowed on the trails in Grand Teton National Park (full pet policy HERE)
- Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer
Now here’s the top 8 day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
#1: Jenny Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the Jenny Lake Trail:
Length: 7.2 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 456 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 3 hours
Parking: there is trailhead parking at the Jenny Lake Trail
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Jenny Lake Trailhead
The Jenny Lake Trail is one of the most popular and beloved trails in Grand Teton for a good reason! An idyllic mountain lake encompassed by stunning, craggy mountain peaks, with surprises along the way like Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point! Not all lake trails follow the shoreline for the entirety of the trail, but the Jenny Lake Trail is one that does.
Besides hiking the trail, there is a lot to do at Jenny Lake, which is why it appeals to so many visitors. There is the Jenny Lake Visitor Center, the Ranger Station, the General Store, and the nearby campground. Another unique thing about Jenny Lake is that it is one of the few bodies of water in Grand Teton National Park where you can enjoy water activities, by bringing your own vessel to boat (with a permit), or renting one. And then there is the iconic Jenny Lake ferry, which ferries guests from the south shore of Jenny Lake, to the west shore, where it is a short hike to Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. This is a great “shortcut” alternative to hiking the Jenny Lake Trail to these two destinations.
The Jenny Lake Trail has it all. There are short portions of heart pumping uphills, enjoyable flat strolls, shady portions in dappled sunshine beneath tree canopies, and epic expanses opening over Jenny Lake and the Teton Valley! With a couple different ways to go after this trail (entire 7 miles roundtrip, ferry shortcut, turn around at Hidden Falls / Inspiration Point), you can easily customize this park favorite to fit your needs! But no matter what, the views remain unchanged, and that is what you will remember about the Jenny Lake Trail!
If you are planning a hike on the Jenny Lake Trail, note that this popular destination has parking available, but it fills up fast, especially during peak summer season and weekends. Arrive early, or prepare to possibly have to roadside park, which will add a longer walk to the trailhead.
#2:Taggart Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the Taggart Lake Trail:
Length: 3.8 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 423 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 1.5 – 2 hours
Parking: there is parking at the Taggart Lake Trail
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Taggart Lake Trail
The Taggart Lake Trail is a great stand alone day hike in Grand Teton National Park, but it can also be combined with its neighbor Bradley Lake (next on this list), to lengthen your day hike if you so choose.
My favorite thing about the Taggart Lake Trail, besides yet another great lake view, is the stands of aspens that inhabit this trail. In autumn, this trail in particular comes alive in blazing yellows from these aspens, making it a fall favorite if you happen to come hike in shoulder season.
Unlike the Jenny Lake Trail above, only a small portion of the Taggart Lake Trail loop follows the actual shoreline, but the other portions are nonetheless impressive, with their beautiful foliage, streams, and never dull mountain views!
#3: Bradley Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the Bradley Lake Trail:
Length: 5.2 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 649 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 2 – 3 hours
Parking: there is parking at the Bradley Lake Trailhead
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Bradley Lake Trailhead
Ironically, the Bradley Lake Trail features not only Bradley Lake, but Taggart Lake as well, as you can see from the map below. In fact, a larger portion of the Bradley Lake Trail parallels the shoreline of Taggart Lake than it does Bradley Lake!
The Bradley Lake Trail is slightly more moderate than some of its surrounding neighbors, with a couple decent climbs, if you hike counter clockwise, which is the recommended route for this trail.
Counter clockwise will actually take you near the lakeside of Bradley Lake first, then continuing on the loop towards Taggart Lake. Because of this connection, it is very easy to combine both the Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake Trails together, to form a longer day hike of both trails, if preferred.
Whether you choose to combine or not, this is a great trail for seeing two lakes at once, Bradley Lake and Taggart Lake.
#4: Cascade Canyon Trail
Quick Facts on the Cascade Canyon Trail:
Length: 9.1 miles roundtrip out and back
Elevation Gain: 1,102 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 3 – 4 hours (more if hiking in from the Jenny Lake Trail)
Parking: there is parking (same as Jenny Lake Trail parking)
Facilities: there are bathrooms (same as Jenny Lake Trail)
The Cascade Canyon Trail is THE best day hike in Grand Teton in which to witness the canyon, backcountry interior of the park! Traversing the bases of the Teton range, specifically the “Cathedral Group” of Teewinot Mountain, Grand Teton, and Mount Owen is a wild and unforgettable experience!
The Cascade Canyon Trailhead is actually located on the Jenny Lake Trail, in the same vicinity as Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls. So you can hike the Jenny Lake Trail there, or take the Jenny Lake ferry for a shortcut. Either way, once you pick up the trailhead for the Cascade Canyon Trail, you will be trekking west, away from Jenny Lake, into the backcountry of Grand Teton.
You will hit Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls first after a short climb, one of the biggest sections of incline on the entire trail, before proceeding further beneath the shadows of the Cathedral Group. The Cascade Canyon Trail is also a familiar trail for numerous wildlife sightings, including bear and moose.
There are also a network of more interior trails at the end of the Cascade Canyon Trail, which you can connect to for an even lengthier hike. One of these connecting trails is the popular backcountry Lake Solitude Trail.
#5: String Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the String Lake Trail:
Length: 3.7 miles roundtrip loop trail
Elevation Gain: 252 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 1.5 hours
Parking: there is parking at the String Lake Trailhead
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the String Lake Trailhead
String Lake is the smaller, humbler, northern neighbor of Jenny Lake, and while it may not be as visited, it still has all of the same great qualities, and is a slightly easier, shorter trail for those looking for a lesser rating. It can also be combined with the nearby Leigh Lake Trail to the north, for a longer day hike. Essentially, String Lake connects Jenny Lake and Leigh Lake, as it is in the middle.
String Lake itself is long and skinny, and the String Lake Trail follows the eastern shoreline close to the water, while the western portion of this loop trail breaks away from the water to traverse through the woods of pines and aspens a bit, providing a different perspective, before rejoining the water on the south shore.
To put it another way, if you hike the String Lake Trail counter clockwise, most of the mountain and lake views will be in the first half of the hike, and most of the wooded views will be in the second half of the hike.
On the north end of the String Lake Trail is where you can connect to the Leigh Lake Trail to combine for a longer day hike.
#6: Leigh Lake Trail
Quick Facts on the Leigh Lake Trail:
Length: 7.1 miles roundtrip out and back
Elevation Gain: 95 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Parking: there is parking at the Leigh Lake Trailhead
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Leigh Lake Trailhead
Leigh Lake is loved for its forests, shoreline, and mountain views. It also has some unique characteristics that not all of the other lake trails in this list have.
First, unlike many of the loop lake trails in Grand Teton National Park, the Leigh Lake Trail is an out and back trail. It follows the eastern shoreline of Leigh Lake. But it follows the shoreline the entire time, so you get never ending views! Second, for a lengthier distance of 7 plus miles, one might expect a decent amount of elevation gain, but the Leigh Lake Trail is less than 100 feet of gain total. This is a great trail for an unrushed, easy stroll, or a great trail for making good time.
As mentioned above, this trail can be enjoyed when combined with the String Lake Trail directly to the south, or separately.
#7: Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake
Quick Facts on the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake:
Length: 2.5 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 85 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 1 hour
Parking: there is parking at the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trailhead
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trailhead
If you want to hike in sight of the largest lake in Grand Teton National Park, with a perfect backdrop of snow capped peaks, then the easy Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail should be on your list. This trail is technically a loop, but really, it is more like a figure 8 trail. And the trail juts out into Jackson Lake, lending the feel to hiking more of a peninsula, with almost entirely lake views and a side of forest!
This is another great easy, short, low elevation option for those searching for those factors. And don’t miss out on the boating opportunities at Jackson Lake, the largest lake in Grand Teton National Park, as well as the Colter Bay Village, campground, and amphitheater nearby.
#8: Mormon Row
Quick Facts on Mormon Row:
Length: 0.2 miles roundtrip loop
Elevation Gain: 2 feet
Estimated Time to Complete: 5 – 10 minutes
Parking: there is parking at the Mormon Row Trailhead
Facilities: there are bathrooms at the Mormon Row Trailhead
Mormon Row is the shortest day hike on this list, and while it is more of a short stroll to a historic structure, it is perfect for those looking for just that – a short, easy stroll that is family friendly, that also provides a dose of history. In fact, the view of the iconic Moulton Barn on the Mormon Row Trail is one of the most recognizable and photographed spots in the entire park! You may even spot some bison or elk grazing nearby in the pastures.
And because the Mormon Row Trail is so short, it can easily be added on to almost any hiking itinerary, whether it is a 1 day itinerary, or week long itinerary!
And there you have it, the complete list of the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park? But before you go, what else do you need to know in order to plan the perfect hike?
When is the Best Time to Hike the Top Trails in Grand Teton National Park?
This may seem like an obvious answer, since much of the park’s infrastructure closes between late fall and early spring, including park roads, Visitor Centers, campgrounds, and lodges, but it is not that straightforward.
Peak hiking and visiting season in Grand Teton National Park is summer, and that is arguably the most preferred time to hike in Grand Teton National Park. Daytime temps are mild, balmy, and perfect for a day outside exploring, and nights have just to perfect nip of chill to them, without being too harsh. While afternoon rain showers are common in the summer months, this can easily be worked around by getting an early start to your hike, checking the forecast daily, and if necessary, planning to finish your hike by the afternoon.
But what about hiking during shoulder seasons? The best reason to visit in fall or spring, it to avoid the summer crowds! Again, it is important to note that facilities and roads do not all fully open until late spring, but, for example, a visit in late May will still give you a chance to enjoy this park’s trails to its fullest, while still avoiding the main rush of summer crowds. The same could be said, for example, a visit in early September.
Fall also is a gorgeous time to enjoy the striking colors of the Grand Teton valleys, overshadowed by the rugged peaks of the mountains! If you do plan to visit any of these best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall, be prepared with the right layers, as temperatures will still require some extra preparation.
Finally, hiking during the winter season. While most people may assume Grand Teton is not worth visiting in winter, it still holds appeal for a select few – those that appreciate winter hiking, in particular, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. That is because the park remains open for these winter activities! If a deafeningly silent, snow draped landscape sounds ideal to you, then consider a winter visit to Grand Teton National Park!
Gear Recs for the Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
With the exception of winter hiking, which will require some specialized gear like snowshoes and/or cross country skiing gear, here are a few key recommended items to bring with you for the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
- Hiking Boots or Trail Runners
This is a personal preference choice on which footwear you go with. I personally hike in both, depending on the terrain. My waterproof Vasque Breeze GTX III hiking boots are great for hikes where my feet may get wet, and for challenging uphills on loose terrain, like mountain scree fields that require a little more support. I love my HOKA One One Speedgoats for the majority of my hikes, as they are unbeatable in cushioning and grip, and are more lightweight than a traditional hiking boot, making my feet feel “fresher” for longer hikes, and helping me move quicker when I want.
- Performance Socks
Your hiking shoes are only as good as the performance socks you pair them with. Nothing can derail a perfect hike quicker than a blister. I used to be extremely blister prone, especially on longer hikes, until I discovered my Hilly Twin Skin socks. The “twin skin” layers are what helps to prevent the friction that can cause blisters. I haven’t gotten a single blister since switching to Hilly Twin Skins, not even on my longest day hikes across the country, like the Grand Canyon’s Rim to Rim hike, or California’s Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48 states!
- Day Pack
As you should be bringing all of your day hiking essentials with you on any day hikes in Grand Teton National Park, you need to have a comfortable and reliable way to carry them on your person. I love my Osprey Daylite day pack and my Camelbak Helena day pack for day hiking purposes. Both are water bladder compatible as well.
- Water System
Always bring plenty of water on any day hike in Grand Teton National Park. My personal favorite is my Platypus Hydration Bladder. I like this wide mouthed model, which makes filling, emptying, drying, and cleaning simple and quick, and it is perfect for consistent, uninterrupted, on the go hydration.
- Hiking Snacks
Keep an inventory of the best hiking snacks on your for all your day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
- Bear Spray
Since Grand Teton National Park is home to BOTH grizzly and black bears, it is important to be bear aware and prepared with bear spray on your day hikes in Grand Teton. You don’t have to be deep in the wilderness, removed from the crowds, to possibly come face to face with a bear. I have even seen a grizzly bear in full view once before, strolling near the Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail on Jackson Lake, a very busy and populated spot in the park.
- Mosquito Repellant
The thick, dense forests found in parts of Grand Teton National Park are what makes this environment so rich and inviting, but it can also harbor mosquitos, more prevalent during certain times of the year. Be prepared with mosquito repellant in your day pack.
- Trekking Poles
Some visitors to Grand Teton National Park will find trekking poles helpful, especially on some longer day hikes, or more challenging day hikes with steeper grades. My go to for trekking poles are my Black Diamonds. The cork handles prevent the slippage that can happen with plastic or rubber handles, when combined with sweaty palms!
- Lightweight, Waterproof Outer Layer
Especially in summer, which is when the majority of visitors arrive at Grand Teton National Park, afternoon showers are frequent. While you should try to plan an early start to help mitigate this factor, it is also a good idea to invest in a lightweight, fully waterproof outer layer just in case. The best out there is the Outdoor Research Helium II jacket, which folds down to the size of a hand, weighs only a couple ounces, and is fully waterproof, making it the perfect and easy addition to your day pack!
FAQS About the Best Day Hikes in Grand Teton National Park:
Check out a few more helpful hints and frequently asked questions about visiting and hiking in Grand Teton National Park
How Do I Get to Grand Teton National Park?
To get to Grand Teton National Park, in northwest Wyoming, you can drive or fly. It is easy to access the park by vehicle, or you can fly into the closest regional airport, Jackson Hole Airport, which is immediately adjacent to the park and located off the main park road, Highway 191.
What Wildlife Might I Expect to See on My Hikes?
Expect to possibly see grizzly bears, black bears, coyotes, badgers, wolverines, beavers, otters, pikas, moose, elk, pronghorn, and bison, as well as numerous aquatic animals, reptiles, and birds, like trout, snakes, ospreys, swans, and bald eagles! In addition, each season holds special surprises when it comes to native wildlife.
In spring and early summer, babies abound in the park! In fall, elk bugles can be heard echoing across the mountains and valleys! In winter, you can break out your detective skills and determine which animals may be lurking nearby by identifying the tracks in the snow!
Where Can I Stay Overnight in Grand Teton National Park?
There are plenty of overnight accommodations in Grand Teton National Park!
There are numerous reservable campgrounds, several National Park lodges, and traditional accommodations like hotels and rentals, just outside the park boundaries in Jackson and the smaller surrounding towns, like Victor, Idaho, where, for just a slightly longer drive, you can find cheaper accommodations.
Which are my personal favorite day hikes in Grand Teton National Park?
- Jenny Lake is simply stunning. Cascade Canyon is another favorite for exploring more of the wild side of Grand Teton’s interior and backcountry! It’ll make you feel small to stand beneath the Cathedral Group!
Which hike(s) should you do if you only have 1 day?
- I would absolutely do Jenny Lake (start early), combined with a portion of Cascade Canyon. If you have time, check out part of a nearby trail like Leigh Lake or String Lake, which offer even more pristine views.
Which are the best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park that are less than 3 miles in roundtrip length?
For whatever reason, if you are looking for a shorter, easier hike, that still packs a lot, these are my recommendations for you:
- Colter Bay Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake
- Mormon Row
- Inspiration Point and Hidden Falls on the Jenny Lake Trail (via the Jenny Lake ferry “shortcut”)
- Be sure to bring all of your day hiking essentials on all of the trails you explore! You can download a day hiking essentials checklist HERE!
- Check the park website for park updates before your trip
- If a trail is closed due to wildlife activity, do not hike it!
- Respect wildlife at all times!
- Leave No Trace Behind when hiking these best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park!
BONUS! Did you know that the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park is just a short drive from Grand Teton National Park? Combine a trip to BOTH of these national gems, and enjoy a perfect Yellowstone itinerary from the west entrance!
With a trek on any of these best day hikes in Grand Teton National Park, you can
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