Ready to combine some spectacular views with a good climb? Grand Teton National Park has it all. With different trails ranging from easy to strenuous, and spanning over 200 miles, we simply couldn't accomplish all of the Grand Teton hikes in just three days...but I certainly found my favorite! Whenever possible, I like to get off the beaten path, which is why rather than hiking to the Amphitheater Lake or Surprise Lake, I decided to veer right and rock scramble to Delta Lake in Grand Teton.
Best Hikes in Grand Teton: Delta Lake
I wouldn't recommend climbing Grand Teton unless you're an experienced mountaineer, as the Grand Teton elevation is a striking 13,775 feet (4,198 meters) above sea level. That said, I do recommend getting as close to Grand Teton as you possibly can, and you can accomplish this by doing one of the best hikes in Grand Teton National Park: Delta Lake.
First thing's first, do realize that the Grand Teton hikes can be incredibly challenging given the rugged terrain, high elevation, potential wildlife encounters, and fickle weather. Be honest with yourself about your fitness level, and it's recommended that you hike in groups of three or more for your own safety (think bears). That said, if you're in relatively decent shape and want to get as close to Grand Teton as possible, pack your bags and drive to the Lupine Meadows Park Access. Park your car there and look for signs pointing to the Amphitheater Lake Trail.
The trail starts off as a relatively easy meander through the woods. About one mile in, the trail will start to get a bit steeper, preparing you for six long switchbacks. It is a gradual, well-trodden and well-marked trail with an elevation gain of 1,761 feet (537 meters) - take your time and anyone with moderate fitness and ample water can accomplish this section. By the time you hit the switchbacks, you'll realize that you've already gained a good bit of elevation and you'll be rewarded with views of Taggart Lake and the surrounding forests and plains in the distance.
Once you veer right onto the unmarked path to Delta Lake, you will gain another 600 feet (183 meters) before reaching Delta Lake in Grand Teton. But, this wouldn't be one of the best Grand Teton hikes if there wasn't a bit of a rock scramble, would it?Continue along the unmarked path until it seemingly ends with a big rock field. Follow the sporadic cairns (rock piles) that attempt to mark the way; in all honesty, just make your way across the rock field whichever way seems easiest for you.
You will have another two rock fields to cross. When in doubt, bear right, as that is where the trail will eventually reappear. From there, you will begin an incredibly steep ascent up Glacier-Gulch before Delta Lake finally makes an appearance at 9,035 feet (2,754 meters)! And my goodness is it spectacular!Due to the nature of the hike, you will not find many hikers at Delta Lake, as the average tourists tend to continue along the trail to the Amphitheater Lake. While we've heard that Amphitheater Lake is lovely, apparently the color of the water isn't even remotely as blue, and you are not rewarded with unobstructed views of Grand Teton.
First and foremost, you should always have bear spray on you - you will be in bear territory, and while they likely won't bother you, it is important to be cautious and aware. If you're camping, ensure you have a reliable tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, camping pillow, and a warm coat at absolute minimum, especially if you stay at a Grand Teton National Park campsite. All of the gear I linked to, I own and recommend personally. Of course, there are many more things that I recommend packing for your trip though, and I highly recommend that you check out my "137 Travel Essentials" to pack for your trip to Delta Lake.