Grand Teton is a beautiful park. The mountains are some of the prettiest in the state (maybe the country), and lovely lakes reflect the peaks in their quiet waters. However, it’s not much of a day-hiker’s paradise—in fact, there are very few day hikes that I’ve been able to find that actually go places I’d want to go (I’m not much on hiking to mountain lakes). Cascade Canyon, across Jenny Lake, is nice, but what to do after that? One trail we’ve taken a couple of times that is very much worth the hike is the 0.8 mile (OW) Grand View trail. The Grand View itself isn’t that nice, but just before the “view” is an awesome view of the Teton Range and the lakes and country surrounding it. It’s glorious, and at that distance, it’s an easy day hike for all ages.
To get to the parking area for the hike, drive north (or south) on Hwy 89/191/287 through Grand Teton National Park. Between Colter Bay Village (to the north) and Jackson Lake Lodge (to the south) is a small dirt road on the east side of the highway. It is much closer to Jackson Lake Lodge than Colter Bay Village; not far north of Christian Pond. This is not Pilgrim Creek Road, which also goes off on the east side of the highway; that road is closer to Colter Bay Village and is longer than the dirt road you actually want. If you go more than a mile or so, you will know you’re on the wrong road: the road leading to the parking area is less than 1.5 miles in length. If there are signs on the road you want (I don’t believe that there are, but you never know), you will be driving towards Two Ocean Lake/Grand View Point. There is somewhat of a network of dirt roads back in here; stay on the one that seems the most used. It will eventually drop you into a small, grassy/dirt parking area in a small clearing of trees. Again, I don’t believe there are any signs, although this might have changed. The trail starts on the edge of the clearing and immediately begins climbing through the pines.
Most of the trail is uphill along a narrow path that winds its way through pine forests with bushes on either side of the trail. It’s not really grown in, but it’s not really used enough to not be grown in. I know the first time we hiked this trail it seemed to go up and up and up forever, but the second time didn’t seem that bad. Maybe we were just better hikers the second time. After 0.1 miles or so, you will come to a trail junction. You will want to turn left (follow the signs—I believe that there are signs here!).
For the next 0.7 miles, you will be walking through the forest. Occasionally you will come out into a meadow full of grass, bushes, and wildflowers, but the trail itself is quite shady. There might also be bugs at some times of year, but I’ve hiked the trail in both June and August, and didn’t have much trouble. Eventually, you will come out of the woods and onto a flat rock. The view from here is wonderful: the Tetons, Jackson Lake, and the Mount Leidy Highlands. Closer in, you can see many meadows and lakes, as well as the Jackson Lake Lodge. Take your pictures here, as this is the best view you’ll see. The first time we came up here, we didn’t even bother going any further. Because of the lack of signs, we figured there simply wasn’t any sign marking Grand View Point (it was better signed the second time we hiked the trail). However, the second time we continued on for another 0.1 mile or so and came to a sign marking a stand of pine trees: Grand View Point. The trees completely block the view, but, hey, I guess the trees must be the grand view you came here to see, right?!?
Bottom line: if you aren’t up to much hiking, don’t bother going beyond the nice view to Grand View Point itself. That will cut 0.2 miles off of you total hike! The view isn’t as non-existent as we first thought at Grand Viewpoint itself, but mostly what you see is peek-a-boo through the trees. I believe we got some nice pictures anyway, but it is a little disappointing after what you’ve just seen on the flat rock.
If you continue on up beyond Grand View Point, you will see Two Ocean Lake. You can actually hike all the way around this lake and then back to your vehicle, making a 9-mile hike. I’ve never done this, although I drove out to Two Ocean Lake, and it’s very nice (to see what I’m talking about see http://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=525472).
So if you’re looking for a nice little day-hike in Grand Teton National Park…try out one that has a fabulous view!
Fees: $12 fee for permit; good 7 days to enter both Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Interagency, Golden Age (Senior), and Golden Access (Access) Passes are also accepted.
Would I go 100 miles out of my way for this?