Hermitage Point

If you want a sublime, easy, all-day hike with incredible views of water, mountains, ponds and the possibility of seeing animals and birds, then Hermitage Point should be your pick. At the very least, it is one of my top choices. Sure, it is 9.4 miles round trip. Yes, it is a rather long drive from Jackson Hole (fifty minutes by way of US-191 and US-89N). But the hike is relatively flat (elevation gain of 440 ft.) and easy to follow. And, at the beginning and end, there is a park restaurant with all you need to start your day and replenish after the hike.

To find the trail, follow the concrete road south that tracks along the boat landing area. When you reach the end of the concrete, follow the old gravel/dirt service road that runs along the Colter Bay Marina. While walking, take in the beautiful views of water backed by mountains (Mt. Moran and Rockchuck Peak).

Soon, you will reach the Swan Lake/Heron Pond split. Veer right and head towards Heron Pond. You will notice that the path turns to a much narrower dirt path of the type that you would expect in the park. At the next junction (unmarked) head right towards Heron Pond [make sure that you pick-up a trail map to eliminate any confusion). In a few minutes, you will reach another junction. If you take the path to the right you will go uphill to an overlook with fabulous views. Continue further and that trail re-joins the trail you were on. Either way, after a short-distance, you will see an incredibly beautiful pond that will likely be filled with lily pads. Afterwards, you will have a rather lengthy trek through the woods before the terrain opens into sagebrush flats before coming at an end at Hermitage Point (make sure you follow the trail to right when you get to an “X” intersection, otherwise if you go left you will end up at Swan Lake.) The views of the Tetons juxtaposed against Jackson Lake are magnificent at this stage of your journey.

When you reach the rocky beach to your right, settle down for a well-earned sandwich and enjoy the magnificent views and the breeze.

When it is time to go home I recommend retracing your steps. I have gone the other way on the southeastern side of the point and, while interesting (off in the distance you can see Jackson Lake Lodge and you pass a rather cool camp site), I don’t think it worth the seemingly slight extra distance.

Hiking in Granite Canyon Near Jackson Hole

Honestly, my wife and I didn’t intend to go very far up Granite Canyon. Little did we know we would find one of most incredible destinations for a moderate hike that I have seen in Grand Teton National Park.

Lunch in Granite Canyon

Lunch in Granite Canyon


We parked just outside of the Moose/Wilson road entrance to the Park on a side road that runs perpendicular to the main road. The advantage of doing this is that you avoid the line of cars that sometimes queues up at the booth. Most people park at the Granite Canyon trailhead another mile further up on the road after entering Grand Teton National Park. But we had plenty of time and wanted the exercise.  [Read more…]

String Lake to Inspiration Point

Most guidebooks will have you park in the South Jenny Lake parking lot and walk three miles around the lake to the beginning of trail leading to Inspiration Point. Alternatively, they will point out the option of taking a boat from the Jenny Lake Boat dock.  Not me.

Instead you should drive to String Lake. You can reach it by heading ten miles north of the Moose Entrance to Grand Teton National Park.  Turn left at the signed North Jenny Lake Junction.  It is another one and a half miles to the String Lake parking lot access road on the right.  There are three lots, park in the first one. If it is full, you can go to one of the others, get out of the car, head for the lake and turn left on the trail until you reach the first lot.

From the first parking lot head south, following the short trail that skirts the eastern edge of the lake. Within a couple of hundred yards you will see a bridge on your right cross it, or perhaps stop in the middle and marvel at the view.

After the bridge the trail bears west and south. It passes through area burnt from a forest fire in 1999, incredible views of the Tetons looming over the hills, and a fast moving stream on your left. When you reach an intersection after about one third of a mile, bear left, rather than breaking right to continue around String Lake. The path will take you about 1.5 miles to Jenny Lake and then head west along the lake shore for a short stretch to the western edge of Jenny Lake where the boat ramp is located  (hopefully you arrived at a different time than the boat). [Read more…]

Hike to Phelps Lake

An Idyllic hike that combines rushing rivers, wooden bridges, and a beautiful lake with a mountain backdrop can be had by parking at the Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve Center and following the Lake Creek Trail to Phelps Lake. Along the way you will cross three bridges, hike gentle switchbacks up and down forested hills, and arrive at a large lake with a tempting bench to sit on. This can all be accomplished within slightly less than a three mile roundtrip.

If you just want to soak in the view, you can forsake the trip and relax on one of the many benches strategically placed along the streams and enjoy the sounds and the view. For those who want to extend the journey, once you reach Phelps Lake, follow the trail to the left (I have not yet travelled to the right). After walking approximately three quarters of a mile you will reach a rocky promontory that juts into the water. It is a great spot to relax and eat a sandwich.  I have been known to wade into the cold waters of the lake from that spot, but be aware it is slippery.  Water shoes definitely help. [Read more…]

String Lake to Hidden Falls – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

If you like mountains, rushing streams, a gorgeous lake, and a waterfall to boot, then this 4 mile round trip hike is for you.   Perhaps long stretches of shade, open terrain recovering from a forest fire and minor elevation gain would interest you as well. 

The trip starts in the String Lake parking lot. 

String Lake

String Lake

You can shorten the distance if you park in the first area on your left.  Lengthen it slightly and park in the last lot, but then you have the advantage of quick access to the bathroom facilities.  Either way, leave the parking area and head to String Lake where you turn left.  Eventually, you will cross a scenic wooden footpath bridge.  Follow the path and continue straight, instead of turning right at the intersection with the String Lake loop trail.  [Read more…]

String Lake – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

It probably was once a river channel connecting Jenny Lake to the South and Leigh Lake to the North. Now, String Lake is nothing short of a spectacular narrow body of sparkling water ringed on its Western and South Western sides by majestic mountains that seemingly stretch from the shore to the clouds.  On its eastern shore are numerous small beaches, some immediately adjacent to the parking lot and others to the North that provide some semblance of privacy.

The trail that rings the lake is easy, especially the stretch from the parking lot north to the bridge that crosses a mild set of rapids to the Western side (about a fifteen minute walk).  The shaded walk keeps you in close contact with the water on the left and the woods on the right.  Should you want to go further, after crossing the bridge follow the trail for another couple of hundred yards until you reach a branch heading South (to your left).  It will lead you back to your starting point in another hour after first circling the lake.

String Lake is not just for viewing. It is also for swimming as well.  [Read more…]

Cunningham Cabin – A Peek At Jackson Hole’s Past

A nondescript turn off, a ¼ mile road boarded by “buck and rail” fences stretching like an dagger pointed directly at the Tetons, and sagebrush and flatland stretching all around you – why stop here?

After you park your car and pass through the open fence, a faint trail leads you to an unanticipated delight.  Cunningham cabin [Read more…]

Taggart Lake – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

Whether it is a hike in the spring, summer and fall, or a snowshoe or cross country ski jaunt in the winter – the trail to Taggart Lake and its destination represents the best compromise of distance, beauty and terrain in Grand Teton National Park.  A casual hiker will be able to negotiate the 3.6 mile round trip without great difficulty.  The traveler looking for a greater challenge can continue to Bradley Lake or be satisfied with an incredible combination of water, mountain, terrain and vegetation that will make the day well worthwhile.  The easiest way to get to the trailhead

Taggart Trail Start

is to enter Grand Teton Park through the Moose entrance and go three miles to the Taggart parking lot on your left.

The first several hundred yards of trail heads due west towards a low rise.  The Tetons loom beyond.  When you reach a “T” intersection take the right branch of the trail.  After crossing a stream on a scenic wooden foot bridge you will pass a rail fence on the right before the trail once again turns west and starts up the only significant uphill section of the journey.  After about ten minutes, and one or two stops to catch your breath for those that are not in condition, the narrow wooded trail will open up to a vast vista of the Teton mountain range beyond and a stony, but grassy, valley below.

Continue on and you will once again be faced with a choice of trails.  The path to the right will take you eventually to a series of switchbacks heading towards Bradley Lake – but that is a story for another day and another post.  Instead, continue straight and the path will descent into a stretch of pygmy like trees.  This short section is one of the most delightful parts of the hike.  Whether you are hiking or whisking through mounds of snow

Author In The Trees

you will feel isolated and at peace as you pass through a tunnel of green.

Upon emerging you will see an open area that shortly descends to the lake.  The views of the mountains forming a barricade on the other side of the water is majestic –

Taggert lake

your choices of paths simplistic.  Bear left and you will come to a long wooden bridge crossing the short neck of the lake.  It is a great location to stop and eat.  If you want you can continue on and loop back to the parking lot – but I do not recommend it.  The journey back by retracing your steps is shorter and more rewarding.  If you bear right at the lake rather than left there are many rocky outcroppings on which you can enjoy a welcome break. If you continue further a determined hiker will reach Bradley Lake after negotiating a series of switchbacks up and then down a low hill.

In the winter, after checking that the lake is well frozen, you will be well rewarded if you head out into the frozen expanse stretching in front of you.

On Taggert’s Frozen Expanse

The perspective and vastness will overwhelm you, as will your curiosity as to the destination of the creator of the inevitable set of cross country ski tracks heading for the western shore.

Goodwin Lake – Hiking Near Jackson Hole

Hiking Length: Approximately 6 miles RT
Elevation Gained: About 900 feet
My View of Difficulty: Moderate
Best part:  The end when you reach a secluded mountain lake that I swam in until I could not stand the cold. [Read more…]

Rendezvous Tram To Granite Canyon – Hiking Grand Teton National Park

Rendezvous Tram to Granite Canyon

The first half of the hike ranks with the best, but the second half may test your patience, calves, ankles and toes if you are heading downhill! [Read more…]