Amphitheater Lake

Beeline from the valley floor to the park’s stunning subalpine zone in 1 day on this exceptional (if quite steep—elevation gain is nearly 3,000 ft.) hike. Your views of the Grand Teton, Mount Owen, and Jackson get better with every step, and soon you’ll ascend to vistas over Bradley and Taggart Lake, too. You know you’re almost there when you reach Surprise Lake; press on to the stony cirque cradling Amphitheater Lake, topped off by Disappointment Peak lording over the water to the west. Not only is the trail blessed with views, glacial moraine features, and wildflower meadows, but you might see black or grizzly bears, moose, or grouse—making it one of the finest day hikes in the entire park. As an additional or alternate destination, spire-riddled Garnet Canyon awaits just south on a spur branching off the main trail at mile 3.

10 miles round-trip. Difficult. Access: Lupine Meadows Trailhead.

Forks of Cascade Canyon

One of the park’s absolute stunners, Cascade Canyon is a U-shaped glacial valley surrounded by skyscraping peaks. Up here, incredibly jagged mountains fill the horizon, marmots and pikas scamper among boulders, and black and grizzly bears feast on abundant trailside berries. Cascade Canyon is a popular entry point for backpackers seeking to explore the Teton’s remote wilderness, but this stretch is doable in a day for fit hikers. Catch the shuttle across Jenny Lake to shave a few miles off the trip, then start with a short, steep grunt up to Inspiration Point (see “Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point,” below). Most people turn around here, but press on to climb up this narrowing valley, where Mount Owen dominates the view. You’ll also skirt under Table Mountain and The Wigwams, two peaks straddling the western border of the canyon. Turn around at the Forks, the point where the canyon (and trail) split in two: North will take you to Lake Solitude and south heads for Hurricane Pass, both top-shelf backpacking trips. 

9.6 miles round-trip via the Jenny Lake shuttle; 14.4 miles round-trip from Jenny Lake Trailhead. Moderate to difficult. Access: Inspiration Point.

Hidden Falls & Inspiration Point Trail 

It’s easy to see why this short, beautiful hike is one of the park’s most popular: You can get a taste of the wildlife, views, and water features that make the Teton so special. The shortest route to Hidden Falls starts from the boat dock after taking the Jenny Lake shuttle; from there, you’ll cross Cascade Creek and hike through huckleberry patches to the dramatic, 200-foot cascade (via a short spur trail). But don’t stop here: The .5-mile (one-way) climb up to Inspiration Point is worth it. Tiptoe along a rocky trail cut into a cliff face to reach this, well, inspirational view across Jenny Lake to Jackson and the Gros Ventre Wilderness. For a longer trip, skip the boat and hike the long way around Jenny Lake on the Lakeshore Trail, a move that extends the out-and-back hike to 5 miles.

2.2 miles round-trip from boat dock; 5 miles round-trip from Jenny Lake Trailhead. Moderate. Access: Trailheads are at the east or west shore boat docks of Jenny Lake (if you take the boat shuttle).

Jenny Lake Loop 

Circling the park’s second-largest lake makes for a mellow, view-packed trip. You can hike it in either direction, but hugging the eastern shore earlier in the day means you’ll escape more of the road noise from the Jenny Lake scenic drive. From the east side, the park’s biggest peaks rise directly across the lake—the biggies like Grand Teton as well as Rockchuck or Baxter Pinnacle. On the west, wildfire-burned areas alternate with thimbleberry bushes and forest; from here, you can also tack on the out-and-back to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. A trail to Moose Ponds heads south around the southern tip of Jenny Lake (stop here to look for the namesake beasts) then circles back to the start. 

7.1 miles round-trip. Easy to moderate. Access: Trailhead is at the east shore boat dock.

Leigh Lake

Mount Moran looms large in this hike along a large lake just north of Jenny Lake, especially at the start—but you’ll also earn a front-row view of Teewinot, Rockchuck, and Mount Woodring, and probably shake many of the Jenny Lake crowds. The trail starts on the northern end of String Lake, then traces the eastern shore of Leigh Lake through woods with frequent openings to gaze at the peaks. The beaches you’ll pass provide the best uninterrupted views. Once you’ve hit the northern tip of Leigh, you can also continue another .9 mile to Bearpaw and Trapper Lakes, two smaller, picturesque lakes with even more solitude.

7.4 miles round-trip; 9.2 miles round-trip to Trapper Lake). Easy to moderate. Access: Trailhead is at the end of a spur road off the Jenny Lake scenic drive, .5 mile past the String Lake Trailhead.

String Lake Loop

Easy hiking with excellent views are what you get with this pleasant trip circumnavigating String Lake. The trail clings to the eastern shore, with views of Mount Moran and the Cathedral Group. Cross the Leigh Lake outlet and head into the forest, then traverse an open slope that provides a nice look back at String Lake. Ambitious hikers can combine this loop with the Leigh Lake hike, above.

3.7 miles round-trip. Easy. Access: String Lake Trailhead.

Paintbrush Canyon to Holly Lake

Gorgeous Paintbrush Canyon is a popular backpacking destination, but strong hikers can get a taste of the magic on this trip up to Holly Lake. You’ll climb to views over Leigh Lake and wander through a colorful canyon blanketed with paintbrush, gentian, and columbine blossoms, not to mention dip a toe in glacial Holly Lake, a high-country tarn at the base of 11,590-foot Mount Woodring. The trail starts on the String Lake Loop, then ascends through the rocky, rough terrain of Paintbrush Canyon to your turnaround point at the lake.

13 miles round-trip. Difficult. Access: Leigh Lake Trailhead.

Taggart and Bradley Lakes

The effort-to-reward ratio is stacked in your favor on this loop to a pair of super-scenic backcountry lakes: Views of major peaks like Grand Teton, Middle Teton, Teewinot, and Mount Owen await almost from the start, and the peaks look even more impressive rising behind the green-blue lake waters. Head straight for Bradley Lake, passing through a conifer-aspen forest on the way. Turn southwest on the Valley Trail to drop down to Taggart Lake. Both are fine places to unpack a picnic and stay awhile. Finish by hiking another 1.5 miles back on the Taggart Lake Trail. 

5-mile loop. Moderate. Access: Trailhead is west of Teton Park Rd., approximately 6 miles south of Jenny Lake.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.