Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Grand Teton NP : Glacial Lakes...Part 1

Colter Bay RV Park
July 9-22, 2019
Grand Teton NP

To say we loved the Tetons would be an understatement. Around every turn was one jaw dropping moment after another. 

 I thought maybe a July visit would be crowded, and there were folks there, but we hardly ever saw them.  We headed out early each morning and on our way home in the early afternoon, the parking lots were jammed and vehicles were parked along the roads for miles.  While these folks were dodging crowds, we were at home playing with our pups, maybe napping, and enjoying the solitude.   

Jackson Lake with Mt. Moran in the background was our front yard.

The pups enjoyed morning and evening walks.  
We saw a fox one morning...even Sally was startled!

Grand Teton was established in 1929.  The original park only included the Teton Range and the six glacial lakes at the base of the mountains.  Now that seems like a plan...hike the six original lakes. 

Part 1 includes the three lakes in the Cascade Canyon.  Cascade Canyon lies between the Cathedral Group (Teewinot Mt., Mt. Owen, and the Grand Teton) to the south and the St. John Group (Symmetry Mt., Spire, and Rock of Ages) to the north.  It is spectacular! 

1. Jenny Lake (July 12)
 Hiking to Hidden Falls was at the top of the hiking list so our first glacial lake was Jenny Lake, one of the most visited spots in Grand Teton NP.  Jenny Lake was formed about 12,000 years ago by glaciers pushing rock debris which carved Cascade Canyon.  The plan was to take the shuttle boat (a minimal fee...Its nice to be seniors!) across the lake and hike to the falls then take the lake trail back to the Visitor Center.  Total was just under 5 miles RT.

As we were crossing the bridge to the boat, we were excited to see a mama moose and her baby.  Seeing a moose was at the top of the list for wildlife...two "top of the list" things checked off in one day. 

Leaving the dock...

For most of the hike to the falls we followed  Cascade Creek.  It sounded and flowed more like a river...
 Hidden Falls...

The trail around the lake was full of views in all directions and lined with gorgeous wildflowers.

2. String Lake (July 18) 
String Lake Trail is a loop around this narrow lake.  We did it counter clockwise veering left at every juncture and logged in 6.7 miles.  I was so excited because the morning sunlight was perfect for reflections ! 

Mt. Moran

We were not completely alone...

Once we crossed the bridge over the Leigh Lake outlet, the trail climbed through a lodgepole pine forest...  

(Lodgepole pine trees are the most common tree in the Tetons.)  

...and eventually came to an alpine clearing.

 As we were closing the loop and nearing the trailhead, we crossed the bridge for the String Lake outlet, we had a very nice view of the Cathedral Group...Teewinot Mt, Mt. Owen, and the Grant Teton.

3. Leigh Lake (July 21)
The last of the three lakes in Cascade Canyon is Leigh Lake.  To reach the trailhead, we had to retrace our steps from the String Lake hike for about a mile.  The outlet for Leigh Lake flows into String Lake.  At the juncture where we turned left at the outlet bridge to loop String Lake, this day, we turned right.  The trail is an in-out hike all the way to the end of Leigh Lake. It is 8.5 miles RT...mostly flat thank goodness.  

The first part of the trail meanders along the bank of Leigh Lake.

 Once we entered the "forest", we were delighted to experience our second bear sighting.  There are no pictures. Just when Joe was about to snap his photo, I moved to the side of him, the bear looked up and made eye contact so we both began to back up very slowly and continue our hike.  
We did see a very handsome buck...

 ...and these cute little fellas always put a smile on my face.

 We entered into a burn area that opened up to a meadow.

 A left turn at the next juncture took us to the end of the lake.

As with most in-out trails, the out is just as pretty as the in.

 It's nice after a few weeks to go back and look at these pictures again.  Stay tuned for part 2.

I'll close with a few pictures...

So until next time...



  1. Awesome photos of my favorite place.Spent five years there workamping for the Grand Teton Lodge Co.

  2. Beautiful reflections in the still of the morning. Looks like you had great weather to enjoy your outings.

  3. Awesome photos--those reflection ones are stunning!

  4. Great blog post and spectacular pictures. We're hoping to go next year. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I think Grand Teton was the highlight of our time on the road. SO beautiful and so many animals!!!!

  6. One of our absolute favorite places, but we only got to spend a day there. I am so jealous of you all (especially your ability to wake up early in the morning... that is some magical stuff right there!!) Wonderful photos!

  7. Oh, my! We just had that small taste of hiking in the Tetons when we did the trip over to hike Phelps Lake. We most definitely need to return just to spent time hiking here. Love, love the lake hikes!! Your reflection photos are spectacular. How nice that the sky was clear and there was no wind. Sweet that you saw the mother moose and calf. Awesome! So nice to see Joe out there on the trails. You two are putting some miles on those boots!!

  8. Great shots of a gorgeous area.

  9. Oh wow!! So much to love about this beautiful area. That creek is a lot fuller than some of the rivers we're seeing. We are still waiting to see our first moose - lucky you! That bull elk looks like he was just groomed :-) Thanks for sharing a place we are looking forward to seeing soon.

  10. Beautiful captures Gay of a beautiful place. A visit and a hike at the Tetons never fail to nourish the soul! - ML