Grand Teton National Park should be on everyone's bucket list. Then as the number one activity to do while you are there is you should definitely go hiking. Some of the most beautiful places you will see in the United States are within the Tetons. We have explored this beautiful national park multiple times and these are the three that we believe are the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park.
This shouldn't have to be said, but please do not approach wildlife. ANY wildlife.
Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
As you are planning your hiking adventures, make sure that you understand your own capabilities. A lot of people come here and it is their first time hiking. A hike will say 7 miles and they don't understand a couple things that come with that. First you start at a very high altitude. Most people think of Denver being the mile high town, but there are so many places that are higher. The base of the mountain is at 6,300'. If you are not used to altitude, your body may react differently to activity. You will be able to do some of the hiking as long as you prepare properly. That includes, clothing, shoes, potentially poles, food and WATER. Most of the hikes also have elevation gain. This is also something that casual hikers are not used to.
I will provide a little explanation of skill level for each of these hikes.
Phelps Lake Loop Trail
Stats: 7 miles - 700' in elevation gain - considered easy to moderate. This is a great hike for almost all ability levels. 7 miles is still long but the elevation gain is gradual and rolling. Otherwise, it is a great stroll around a beautiful lake.
This trail starts at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center. There is limited parking and nothing bigger than 22'. Get there early or you can wait in line and a volunteer will let you know when the next spot opens. This really is a beautiful hike with amazing views of the mountains, a rock that is popular for people to jump in the water and the majority of the hike is right along the shore. There are multiple places to stop for a snack and there are even a few campsites that you have to reserve ahead of time.
In summary, this is a great hike for the family or anyone that wants to still get out into nature and experience the amazing national park. You can also just hike to the lake and get a spot for a sweeping view of the area. That would make the hike around 3 miles with about 400' in elevation gain.
Delta Lake Trail
Stats: 7.65 miles - 2,300' in elevation gain - Hard
This hike is considered hard because of the elevation gain and boulder scrambling that you will have to do the last half mile. The first mile of the hike is moderate and then after that it is continuous climb through forests and fields of wildflowers. Then at about 3.25 miles you hit the turn for the lake and it becomes very difficult. I would say, as I said before, know your limits. If you think you will be fine, good. Take it slow, take a lot of breaks and remember a lot of water. We saw people very flushed, in the wrong clothing and they had no water. That isn't smart. Even with the hard level of hiking we absolutely loved this hike. It was one of the most beautiful hikes mile to mile we have been on.
Delta Lake has to be one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the United States. If you are lucky enough to see it, don't take it for granted. You accomplished a decent hike and should be proud. We heard a woman talking that her father was really sad that he couldn't accompany them. Don't take your ability for granted.
Always remember to practice LEAVE NO TRACE and do NOT FEED WILDLIFE. Also, baby buffalo are just fine with their herd. They do not need to be taken to warmth.
Paint Brush Canyon Loop Trail
Stats: 19-23 miles - 4,000'-4,300' in elevation gain - Hard/Advanced
This is a beautiful hike to some of the most stunning views in Grand Teton National Park. Most of the pictures that you will find are of the Tetons but not a lot of IN the Tetons. This trail has you going through two canyons and to two gorgeous alpine lakes.
Depending on the time of year you will have to hike through snow and some of it on steep terrain. The trail is rocky and the elevation gain after starting at 6,300' and making it well over 10,000' will have your muscles gasping, as well as your lungs. Make sure to know your limits. I know I keep saying this, but it is serious and a warning that a lot of people do not listen to. Have you done a hike over 15 miles? Have you done decent enough elevation gain and have you ever hiked at altitude? These are questions that you should ask yourself before you decide on doing this hike.
If you are able, you are lucky to be able to see some of the most beautiful landscape in the United States. Paintbrush Canyon is the first Canyon you enter.
Going counterclockwise, Holly Lake is at the 6 mile mark and a good spot for a snack before the big climb to the divide.
After Holly Lake is where the snow begins and again, there can be a lot. There is trail finding and hiking through snow. Then always making sure to take it slow because the last scramble to the top is steep and sketchy only because of the snow being potentially slippery if it has begun to get slushy.
But when you make it to the top, you will not be disappointed. You are now above 10,000'.
The second canyon as you descend is Cascade Canyon. It was absolutely jaw dropping. It was my favorite of the day.
Solitude Lake is the last lake and your last stop until Jenny Lake which is very close to the end. Most people make this a day hike from the Jenny Lake shuttle drop off.
This hike was one of our tops hikes we have ever done. It was incredibly beautiful. My only negative is that I dislike hiking on rocks and scree and since you are so high up, that is what you get.
As a reminder, you could do the lakes as day hikes. Holly would be 12 miles round trip and Lake Solitude can be 16 miles round trip or less from the shuttle drop off.
I hope you get to enjoy one of these hikes during your visit. Let me know if you have!
As always, please practice LEAVE NO TRACE.