15 Tips for Hiking Taggart Lake in Grand Teton National Park

Like all of our national parks, Grand Teton National Park is a treasure. In 1950, it must have been sheer wisdom that combined the 1929 Grand Teton National Park with the 1943 Jackson Hole National Monument to form what we now call Grand Teton National Park.

The Taggart Lake trail is popular, to say the least. There are many ways to do it, but we did the 3 mile “out and back” with phenomenal views of the Teton Range. The average 6% incline is very doable, but the hiking trail includes rocks, roots, and steps.

Pro tip: Purchase a national park pass in advance to save time at the front gate.

Note: During our visit, the high altitude smoke from the west coast wildfires added a haze to the sky, which is why the mountains in the photos are not as crisp and clear as they would otherwise be. Always so beautiful !

Here are some tips to help you get the most out of a Taggart Lake hike.

1. Follow the good advice of the gypsy guide

Before you go, purchase and download the Yellowstone/Grand Teton “Gypsy Guide” app for a nominal fee. As you drive, it uses GPS to trigger audio about the park’s history, attractions, and more, based on exactly where you are in the park. Your own private guide! The Gypsy Guide told us this hike was a “must-do”. This app is great for all your time in Grand Teton National Park.

Pro tip: You can also download the free NPS app, which provides maps, tours, and on-site accessibility information for over 400 national parks.

Elk Bull in the meadow along Teton Park Road

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

2. Watch for wildlife

Before we even got to the trailhead, we were on the lookout for wildlife, which is always a good idea in Grand Teton National Park. Our reward for being early risers that day was seeing a bull elk in a meadow on Teton Park Road. We spotted it in the same area we had seen pronghorns the day before. This is a popular section of road for wildlife!

3. Go early

We were in the park several days before doing this hike, so we passed the Taggart Lake trail several times. From mid-morning until the end of the day, the parking lot was full and cars were parked all over the place and halfway down the road. So start early (we were there at 7:45) to avoid the crowds.

Pro tip: In September we had a cool start in the 30’s but it warmed up to 80 degrees. Dressing in layers is always a good decision.

4. Be prepared

Be aware of national park advice for hiking in Grand Teton National Park, as it “can be a challenging experience due to the rugged nature of the landscape, including high elevation, steep trails, and extreme weather changes and sudden”.

Rest easy, the hike to Taggart is rated “easy”. Still, hiking basics like good shoes, hiking poles if you need them, and plenty of water are a good idea. We loaded up our backpacks with trail mix and grabbed our bear spray (another essential) and off we went.

As we were just getting started, we saw a mule deer. He was easily identifiable because of his large mule-like ears. Apparently not a fan of hikers, he quickly ditched in the woods upon seeing us coming.

Aspens begin to turn in September

Aspens begin to turn in September

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

5. Soak up the initial views of Aspen

The views on the hiking trail as you leave the trailhead are not mountainous as expected. The hike begins in an aspen covered moraine before the trail widens out for views of the Tetons. The trees were starting to turn orange and gold and Grand Teton had more fall color than we had seen the previous week in Yellowstone.

Taggart Creek Crossing

Taggart Creek Crossing

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

6. See the clear waters of Taggart Creek

At every wooden bridge over every creek crossing we could look into the water and see all the way to the bottom. The water may not have been drinkable, but it was crystal clear. At this time, hardly anyone was on the trail. Private Hike!

Giant boulders near Lake Taggart

Giant boulders along the way

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

7. Take a seat among the giant boulders

We walked past the giant – and I mean giant – rocks. Dean and I were dwarfed by this huge boulder that was to the right of the hiking trail, and others like it. It was probably exactly where he had been sitting for many, many years.

8. Enjoy other wonders of the forest

During our hike we saw other oddities like a snag (dead tree) with so many deep holes it looked like the work of a woodpecker in overdrive. We saw another tree with large gashes on the bark and places where the bark was completely stripped from the tree. Hmm…we were in black bear and grizzly bear country. What could make such a mark? Even with bear spray, I didn’t want to think about it too much.

Bradley Lake, Grand Teton National Park

A moment of reflection at Bradley Lake

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

9. Take the offshoot at Bradley Lake

Are you feeling ambitious? At the split in the marked trail, follow the Valley Trail to the right and head towards Lake Bradley. Note that the Valley Trail is rated “moderate”. Moderate and worth it! I say, any morning you can hike to two alpine lakes is a good morning.

We were captivated in Bradley by the beautiful reflection of the mountains in the water. We haven’t seen a soul! Who are we to have our own private lake, mountains and trees?

Bradley Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Bradley Lake Bridge

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

The bridge at Bradley’s end crossed the narrower end of the lake. I couldn’t help but notice how many old trees in this section of the park have fascinating, thick, gnarled roots.

Pro tip: If you take the Bradley offshoot, the park’s website estimates hiking time at 2-3 hours. Without Bradley, the Taggart hike is estimated to be 1-2 hours.

We loved our detour here, but it was time to continue hiking. From Bradley Lake, we followed the well marked Valley Trail signs to Taggart Lake.

Reflections of Taggart Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Reflections of Taggart Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

10. Linger over the views of Lake Taggart

Taggart is popular for a reason. Everywhere I looked, mountains were reflected in this great still lake. Violets and greens and mauve colors. Evergreens and big rocks with this clear water. Even with the smoke from the forest fires clouding the mountains, it was a beautiful sight.

A fisherman tries his luck on Lake Taggart

A fisherman tries his luck on Lake Taggart

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

11. Try your hand at fishing

Anglers were lined up on an outcrop of rocks near the water, trying their luck fishing in Taggart Lake. I don’t know what they were fishing, but the Teton lakes are home to some 16 species of fish, including brook trout, lake trout, cutthroat trout, and whitefish.

The Long View of Lake Taggart

The Long View of Lake Taggart

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

12. Take the long view from the wooden bridge

Before leaving this heavenly place, walk to the long wooden bridge on the south side of the lake. It gives you a long perspective of the lake that you can’t fully appreciate from other vantage points.

13. Hiking has its own rewards

As we were walking back to the car, we passed a family hiking towards Lake Taggart. I turned around to take a photo of this family sharing such a dramatic nature with their children. At one point during a hike, we spoke to a father and mother, each walking with a small child in baby carriers on their backs. I applauded their efforts (knowing that traveling with young children is an effort) and told them, and the father easily replied, “I have to start them early.” I liked it.

Pro tip: The hike to Taggart is beautiful and there are many other trails to choose from. When you go, stop at a visitor center and talk to a ranger, who can suggest additional hikes and give you updated trail conditions.

14. Pack a picnic to enjoy after the hike

More than once, Dean and I enjoyed sandwiches, grapes, fries, and water from our little cooler at the end of a hike. Simple foods taste best when eaten with the majestic Grand Tetons as a backdrop.

Picturesque scene in the Grand Tetons

Picturesque scene in the Grand Tetons

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

15. Take a photo stop on Teton Park Road

As we headed up Teton Park Road, we saw a quaint, now familiar little brown stable set against the mountains. We had been driven by this scene before, but this time horses were roaming the meadow. I also loved the old suede rail fences in the foreground, so unique to the area and becoming a thing of the past. The mountains were a bit smoky which made them feel a little surreal and to me that just added to the wonder of the scene.

One last look at beautiful Lake Taggart

One last look at beautiful Lake Taggart

Photo credit: Joan Sherman

Final Thoughts

With over 250 miles of trails, I would say Grand Teton National Park makes the most of its mountainous landscape. There’s something for everyone, from short walks like this 3-mile Taggart beauty to true backcountry experiences. Lots of options for getting up, out and in.

The short, easy hike to Taggart Lake is quintessential Grand Teton, and it offers everything a person hikes in the mountains to experience: natural beauty, solitude, and a glorious place to refresh your soul.

Related Articles:

Comments are closed.