Hiking Grand Teton National Park is an absolutely wonderful experience. In fact, we found it to be the very best hiking experience in a national park that we’ve had across the entire United States!
What makes this so perfect for hiking? Well, first off the lakes. The Grand Tetons are absolutely FULL of lakes that will leave you breathless each time you hike to shore or an overview.
The number two reason? The mountains running along side the entire park. This stretch of the Rockies, highlighted by Grand Teton standing tall right in the center, is a breathtaking sight each time you’re around the corner. They are the backdrop for every jaw-dropping view in the park.
Number three, the wildlife. We saw so many incredible animals in here that it left us reeling. It started off with the bison that we saw all over as you drive through the park. Everyone knows Yellowstone for the bison, but Grand Teton National Park is no slouch itself.
On top of the bison, there were herds of elk literally everywhere throughout the park. We must’ve seen at least 100 elk as we were hiking throughout our week in the Tetons. And we’re not done yet! We saw moose, we saw fox, we saw pronghorn, we saw otters, and of course we even saw a few bears!
The Grand Tetons are a top notch experience for anyone who considers themselves a hiker. The park is full of hikes for beginners and experts.
If you are an extremely serious hiker there are two day, three day, and up two week long hikes that go throughout the backcountry of the Teton Mountain Range. However, if you are like us and love day hikes, the Tetons are a perfect place to go.
We put together a 7 day itinerary that covers the park top to bottom, literally, and will leave you speechless with all of the beautiful views that you’ll hike to. Each of these hikes can be done in a day and some can be even combined if you are feeling aggressive. The longest is about 10 miles, and the shortest about 5 miles. Without further ado, let’s get hiking!
Day 1 – Jackson Lake to Hermitage Point
The hike to Hermitage point is just under 10 miles but to be honest it felt very easy because it was entirely flat. The hike is also incredible because it is a loop, our favorite type of trail! Along this 10 mile loop you’ll see Swan Lake, and so many incredible views of Jackson lake, with the climax coming as you reach the very tip of Hermitage Point!
The panorama view at Hermitage Point will take your breath away. The fact that Hermitage Point sticks out into Jackson Lake means that you get almost a 360 degree view of lake surrounded by mountains. It can be tough to capture in a photo, so check out our video below!
We recommend staying left as you make your way to Hermitage Point. Then on the return from Hermitage, you’ll stay along the lake as you walk back to the trailhead.
The Hermitage Point trail is just under 10 miles, and can be taken as a loop trail OR an out & back trail depending on your taste. The elevation change throughout the hike is just under 400 feet. The hike is fairly easy, but can feel difficult. Take your time!
Day 2 – Grand View Point, Two Ocean Lake, Emma Matilda Lake
For Day 2, we have a hike that is not a solo route that the National Park has labeled. Instead, it is a combination of a few different hikes that makes for one incredible loop!
The trail starts at the location for the Grand View Point hike, and that is exactly our first stop. Grand View Point offers a WONDERFUL view of the entire Teton valley and the Teton Mountain Range.
After Grand View Point, follow the trail North to the tip of Two Ocean Lake. There, turn right and follow the South coast of Two Ocean Lake. This is a walk that offers dense forests combined with open pastures – where hopefully you’ll spot some wildlife!
The entire trail along Two Ocean Lake has incredible lake views, and we even spotted a few sea otters doing what sea otters do! At the opposite end of Two Ocean Lake, divert from that trail and turn right towards Emma Matilda Lake.
The views of Emma Matilda Lake from the trail are breathtaking as well. Are you getting a theme here? This trail has EPIC views of 3 separate sights: Grand View Point, Two Ocean Lake, AND Emma Matilda Lake!
Follow the north shore of Emma Matilda Lake back to the trailhead. Now you can rest easy knowing you did one of the best hikes in ALL of Grand Teton National Park, and it isn’t even labeled! You did a secret hike!
This custom loop hike is just about 8 miles, but can be longer if you decide to take any detours. The elevation gain throughout the hike is about 1350 feet. The hike is moderately difficult.
Day 3 – Signal Mountain
Signal Mountain is a must for every hiker when they visit Grand Teton National Park! This hike was SO solid in every respect, we left the hike thinking ‘wow what a great hike! Let’s get a beer…’
The Signal Mountain involves a bit of elevation gain, and is definitely not short, however we never felt like we were struggling to the top. The walk is through a beautiful stretch of the forest, and there are multiple natural stops and overlooks along the way.
The view at the top is one of the best in the park! The mountain is called Signal Mountain because of signaling equipment placed at the top – which was placed there because the peak is taller than all of the surrounding area!
What does that mean? Technically, I have no idea. All I know is that it means it has a gorgeous view!
Also, an added bonus is that along the drive to Signal Mountain there are a couple of lookouts that you will be FORCED to stop at because of their sheer beauty. If you catch it at a time when the water is still (and therefore reflective) you better stop to take in the sights!
The hike up to Signal Mountain is an out & back trail just under 7 miles. The hike involves an elevation gain of just under 1000 feet. The hike is moderately difficult.
Day 4 – Jenny Lake Loop to Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point
The Jenny Lake Loop, like Signal Mountain, is as close as you can get to a ‘must’ for hikers in Grand Teton National Park. Why? A few reasons!
First off, the lake itself is a stunner. This hike goes right around the lake in a big ol loop, and around every bend is an absolutely new view of the lake. You don’t really appreciate how much the backdrop of a lake effects the view until you see it! Around Jenny Lake, you’ll get backdrops of mountains, valleys, and everything in between!
Second, the waterfall along the way! Hidden Falls is a SUPER cool waterfall, however it wasn’t the MOST hidden. There were quite a few people who found it alongside us…
Third, Inspiration Point! Have you been looking for a place to sit, relax, and become inspired? Well, my friend, look no further! Inspiration Point is your spot!
Finally, as if you needed another reason, is the wildlife you may see along the path! We saw a small black bear from quite a distance away (not close enough for a picture unfortunately…) and saw a TON of marmots (or maybe beavers, we aren’t really sure…).
The Jenny Lake Loop is just over 7 miles, and involves an elevation change of just under 700 feet. The hike is fairly easy. However, the hike is moderately difficult if you choose to go to Inspiration Point.
Day 5 – String Lake, Taggart Lake, Bradley Lake
Where to even START with day 5?! This was our FAVORITE day of ALL of them hiking Grand Teton National Park! And that is saying something, because it was going up against some stiff competition…
Day 5 started out with a sunrise trip to String Lake, which was recommended to us as a PERFECT morning destination. Why? Because of the reflection off the lake! The water during the morning is as still as GLASS, and gives a PERFECT reflection of the forest and mountains on the other side of the lake.
The String Lake reflection view looks better than any painting. After all, art imitates nature, not the other way around. This is obvious when you see a place like String Lake.
After taking in the sunrise, take a lap around String Lake for a brisk morning hike of just over 3 miles. The hike is very quick, shouldn’t take more than 90 minutes. After completing it, there is still time for another relatively short hike, and Taggart Lake is the one for the job!
Taggart Lake is another incredible lake loop available to hike in Grand Teton. And you have the option (which we most definitely took) to take a detour on the hike to see Bradley Lake as well!
At both lakes, we got right down to water level and soaked up the sights. The mountains, as they do in SO many places in this National Park, give a beautiful background to the lake’s foreground.
All in all, this was our favorite day of hiking because of all the incredible and unique views we got along the way. We know you will love this one!
The String Lake Loop is just under 4 miles and involves an elevation gain of under 400 feet. The trail is easy to complete.
The Taggart Lake Loop, adding in the Bradley Lake detour, is 6 miles and involves an elevation gain of almost 800 feet. This trail is fairly moderate.
Without the Bradley Lake detour, the Taggart Lake Loop is just under 4 miles and involves an elevation gain of about 400 feet, making the hike relatively easy
Day 6 – Bradley Lake to Garnet Canyon
Day 6 will have views of a place you will be familiar with after Day 5, Bradley Lake! However, today won’t be a day hiking around lakes. We are going right by Bradley Lake on our way up to Garnet Canyon!
The trail starts from Lupine Meadows trailhead, where we saw herds of elk every time of day. This trail is probably the most difficult of any in our 7 day itinerary, so be prepared. Plan more than enough time and bring more than enough water!
Along this hike, you’ll have stupendous views of Bradley Lake and Taggart Lake as you ascend the Teton Mountains through Garnet Canyon. Hey, if you’re lucky you might even strike it rich and find a garnet! Don’t count on it though… We sure didn’t get lucky.
The hike to Garnet Canyon is just over 8 miles out & back. This trail involves an elevation gain of over 2200 feet. This makes the trail difficult to complete, make sure to bring enough water and have enough time!
Day 7 – Death Canyon to Patrol Cabin
Our 7th and final day hike on this Grand Teton itinerary is none other than Death Canyon to the Patrol Cabin! After 7 straight days hiking some of the most beautiful trails we’ve ever seen, we had high expectations for this one, and it did not disappoint!
The hike itself is the second most challenging, after Garnet Canyon, however it is rewarding! Along the hike, you’ll have a great overview of Phelps Lake, one of the jewels of Grand Teton National Park.
In addition, there is a POWERFUL waterfall of snow melt flowing down the mountain (note: probably not flowing if you’re there in winter). We were in AWE with how much water was rushing down the mountain, it really put us in our place.
As we approached and reached the Patrol Cabin, we were talking about and considering how a person used to legitimately live and work there. At a cabin in the Wyoming wilderness, separated from all civilization, with a goal of patrolling the Teton backcountry!
For us, having lived in Minneapolis for 8 years and Chicago for 2, it would be a crazy experience! But then again, so is living in a van I suppose…
The hike through Death Canyon to the Patrol Cabin is just under 8 miles out & back. The trail involves an elevation gain of just over 2000 feet. This trail is difficult, bring enough water and maybe plan a picnic!
Note: the road to this trailhead is very bumpy, it is recommended to have a 4×4 vehicle. Having said that, we made it in our 2001 Eurovan (go Winnie!) so it can definitely be done. Another location you can start the trail from is the Laurance S Rockefeller Preserve.
Camping Outside Grand Teton – For Free!
The free camping outside Grand Teton National Park is the best we’ve ever seen. I said it. We’ve spent 6 months in free campsites, from the East to the West, North to South, we haven’t found better.
The camping available is mostly in Bridger Teton National Forest, but there are a few other options as well. Here was our favorite site, which (along with our other sites) we found on iOverlander.
We hope you LOVED our itinerary detailing 7 day hikes in Grand Teton National Park! This itinerary made a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us, and we hope it will for you also!
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