Resources: Two excellent resources that provided a wealth of information and inspiration that I highly recommend:
- Grand Teton National Park – Hiking: The first place where the planning started…
- Teton Hiking Trails: The day I stumbled across this I knew I hit the jackpot! Well organized, descriptive, and it includes elevation gain and difficulty rating. I just printed out lots of trail maps of fun hikes and let fate work its course for where we would go each day.
Trail Difficulty Level: We are moderate level hikers –in good shape but live in an area offering trails with minimal incline and limited distance. About 7 miles on a moderate hike is perfect for us. There is plenty of this type of hiking in the Grand Tetons. Yes – there are also plenty of hikes that are strenuous leading you into the Canyons but for us we wanted to hike everyday.
Tip: It may be vacation but you’ll relieve a lot of frustration by getting up early and arriving before 10 at the trail-heads. That seems to be the turning hour when parking lots fill up and roads get busy. Packing a lunch is also a great idea. Well worth the $20 cooler we bought for this purpose.
Nothing more glorious then recounting our first hike in the Tetons. The bright blue sky with the most amazing clouds just above the mountain peaks. Fate chose this hike… first two trail head parking lots were filled so we just kept going… We almost gave up on this one due to thelack of parking but found a spot at the Cathedral Group Turnout about 1 mile down the road. At first we were overwhelmed by the crowds in the area, swimming & boating in the lake and assumed the trail would be crowded. (Which for our first hike I emphasize overwhelmed but due to this being unfamiliar territory with bears being a possibility we were not disappointed to know others were around). However when we got ¼ mile into the trail we left that all behind us – and as we slowly inclined the voices from the water below began to fade. The views were absolutely amazing – both looking up at the mountains and down below to the lake. We passed at most four other groups until the final stretch of the hike. Our favorite spot was the crossing over the footbridge of the Leigh Lake Outlet. It was just spectacular scenery in every direction! We decided to add on an extra stretch and hiked over to see Leigh Lake – We did not take the loop around however it would be a nice add on to make a longer hike if we had started earlier and had not parked so far away..
This ranks as one our most favorite hikes for the amazing scenery and our first up close views of the mountains away from the paved roads. It was an easy hike that was just enough elevation change as we began to adapt to the higher elevation.