The Grand Tetons is one of those National Parks that flies under the radar, but once you experience it, it changes you. When we arrived to the Grand Teton area, we quickly changed our plans from only staying a couple days to staying an entire week. Since we extended our trip, we were able to really slow down and enjoy our hikes. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be the Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls trail.
There are several different options that you can do here to make the trail shorter, longer, harder or easier. We went early with the goal of seeing wildlife so we detoured out and around Moose Pond before joining up with Jenny Lake Trial. We then went up to Hidden Falls before venturing back down to the Jenny Lake Trail and taking the ferry back across the lake. I don’t have an exact mileage for this route but I believe it was a little over 4 miles total with Moose, Jenny and Hidden Falls combined!
This was early in our trip so I was still building up my hiking legs. Most people continued up the mountain to Inspiration Point from Hidden Falls for a bit of an elevation push and a great view. Another option to extend this hike is by completing the loop around Jenny Lake which is about 4.5 miles around. If you’re an advanced hiker you can continue up to Paintbrush Canyon and Cascade Canyon for a hard 22 mile loop and 4,4500 ft elevation gain.
From the Jenny Lake trailhead parking lot, we walked south a bit to follow the Moose Pond trail out through the grassy area and around the pond clockwise. We had woken up and got out to the trailhead around sunrise which is the best time to see some wildlife! We had this entire portion of the trail to ourselves and the only sounds we were hearing were birds and Elk bugles in the distance.
The trail cut into the woods for a bit and we made sure to speak loudly as we walked to ward off bears. Once the trail opened up above the pond, we spent about an hour meandering the pond to listen and see if we could spot any wildlife. Though there weren’t any moose at this pond, we had a little mule deer following behind us and had to navigate around a family of goose and their protective father!
Though this pond is not one of the most scenic of bodies of water, the view of the Teewinot Mountain behind it could captivate you for hours. It was also such a special treat to be out in the silence of nature without any other humans. I’d recommend adding in this little loop if you make it to Jenny Lake early.
The trail from Moose Pond connects into Jenny Lake Trail just a bit west of the trailhead at the parking lot. We immediately went from being completely alone, to sharing the trail with tons of people. However, almost immediately after we turned onto the trail, we spotted a group of moose grazing in the woods! There were at least two males who were knocking antlers while the female continued on grazing. The trail basically circled around them so we were able to walk up a bit farther and see the group of moose from a different angle as well. That was our first time seeing moose in the wild so it was SO exciting.
The trail stayed in the woods the whole time leading up to where Hidden Falls splits off. We had been close behind another group of people so when they turned left up the hill, we continued straight for a couple feet to check out the wooden bridge that crosses over one of the many creeks coming off the mountain.
It’s very clear where Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point break off from the Jenny Lake trail as most hikers turn up that direction. It does have a bit of an elevation gain but there’s nothing technical about the trail so it’s an easy addition to make it up to Hidden Falls. Once you reach the top, there is a series of boulders that creates a seating area where people took turns taking photos and others stopped to snack or rest their legs.
Hidden Falls is a beautiful 100 foot waterfall with several different tiers of falls. It’s easily the most beautiful waterfall in the park and many people stayed in this spot to admire it for a while.
If you are able to, I’d recommend climbing up another 200 ft in elevation to reach Inspiration Point for some amazing mountain views. I chickened out at the time and regret it because in retrospect, it wouldn’t have been that tough and the reward seems worth it. That’s definitely the most accessible spot to get a panoramic view of Jenny Lake.
Jenny Lake Ferry
The one downfall of taking a moment to relax at Hidden Falls is that it puts you in a bit of a meditative, quiet state. Once we jumped back onto the Jenny Lake trail, we forgot to keep talking loud and came face to face with a black bear! Luckily Kyle jumped so high that it startled the bear and he ran away into the woods! I love seeing wildlife out in nature but its always a bit unsettling to come face to face with one on a trail!
The trail didn’t continue much longer before we ended up down at the West boat dock. You have the option to walk the additional 2+ miles around the lake or take the shuttle boat back across the lake to the parking lot. We easily could have kept going around the lake but thought it’d be fun to take the boat! They let you hop on from the West side and then pay when you get back to the East dock.
The shuttle ride only lasts about 12 minutes but it essentially cuts off 2 miles of hiking/walking. So it’s a good option for people who may not have the time or endurance but also want to take the round trip out so they can hike up to Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point! The shuttle is $10pp one way or $18 for round trip.
Tips & Advice
- Get there early! This is by far the most popular parking area in the entire park so it will fill up fast and early.
- Be bear aware! Bring Bear Spray and talk loudly as you hike. Huckleberry patches are common in this area so it’s a frequent bear area.
- Be prepared for weather! Depending on the time of year, be prepared with sunscreen or extra layers. We went in mid-September and we bundled up at sunrise and slowly removed layers as we continued on with our hike.
- Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. We saw more wildlife during this one hike than we did on all our other days combined!
- Bring money! You can pay for a ride on the shuttle boat or shop at one of the many shops or the visitor’s center when you arrive back to the Jenny Lake area!
- Take it all in! Take moments to slow down and take in the scenery! This hike is a gem and it’s a blessing to be able to explore such a beautiful area of our country.
Have you been to Jenny Lake or the Grand Tetons? Which trails did you take and what would you recommend for a route? Did you have the same luck with wildlife spotting as we did? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Interested in planning your own road trip to the Grand Tetons and surrounding areas? Check out InMotion Adventures to see how I can help you plan the trip of your dreams to Grand Teton National Park! Until next time…