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Jenny Lake Trail is one of Grand Teton National Park’s most iconic hikes. What makes it so great? It’s perfect for people who want to do a hike over 5 miles but don’t necessarily want to gain thousands of feet of elevation. The Jenny Lake Loop offers a gently rolling trail that follows the edges of the stunning Jenny Lake.
Can You Hike Around Jenny Lake?
What’s great about the Jenny Lake Trail is it circles the entire lake. That means you can explore by foot the park’s second-largest lake. As you hike around the lake, you’ll find several great trails that spur off of Jenny Lake Trail and lead to Hidden Falls, a 100-foot waterfall that’s fed by snowmelt, Inspiration Point, an iconic viewpoint in the park, and Cascade Canyon, a stunning canyon that’s visible from the eastern shores of the lake.
You’ll start at the Jenny Lake Trailhead on the east side of the lake near the Jenny Lake Visitor Center. The visitor center is housed in the historic Harrison Crandall Studio that was built in the 1920s and renovated in 2019. As you head north along the trail, you’ll come across String Lake, a popular lake for stand-up paddleboarding and canoeing. You’ll have incredible views of what is known as the Cathedral Group—Mount Owen, the Grand Teton and Teewinot.
As you get to the west side of the lake, you’ll see the trail junctions for Hidden Falls, Inspiration Point and Cascade Canyon. If you’re feeling energized, hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, both fun spurs. You’ll continue around the lake, heading to its south side where you’ll pass Moose Ponds. If you walk to the overlook down a short spur, look for moose and beavers. Be sure to stay at least 25 yards away from moose and 100 yards or more from bears. Before you know it, you’ll be back at the Jenny Lake Trailhead.
(Photo: Getty Images)
How Long Is the Hike to Jenny Lake?
Jenny Lake Loop is a 7.6-mile hike that loops around Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. The trail itself is dirt with some tree roots and rocks along the way, so is not suited to strollers or wheelchairs
Jenny Lake was formed by glaciers and is 256 feet deep at its deepest point. If you’re wondering where the name “Jenny” came from, Jenny refers to Jenny Leigh, the Shoshone wife of Richard Leigh who was a member of the 1872 Hayden Expedition. The expedition’s goal was to document the geology, flora and topography of the Yellowstone area, which included the Teton area.
Where Do I Park for Jenny Lake Trailhead?
The Jenny Lake Trailhead is on the east side of the lake and has a parking lot. To get to it, drive Teton Park Road and turn onto South Jenny Lake. Because this trail and the area is so popular with visitors, it’s best to get to the parking lot before 9 a.m. to get a parking spot. If you’re an early riser and can get there even earlier, that’s even better.
What Do I Need to Bring on My Jenny Lake Loop Hike?
The first thing you need to bring with you is bear spray. Despite this being a popular trail, grizzly bears live throughout the park, not just in remote areas. You’ll want your bear spray to be on your pack’s hip belt or somewhere very accessible. If it’s buried in your backpack, you won’t have time to reach it if you run into a charging bear. Be sure you know how to remove the safety clip and how to use your bear spray. In other words, read the bear spray directions before you start down the trail.
You’ll also want to pack water and snacks. While this hike doesn’t offer a lot of large elevation changes, it is more than 7 miles long. With the air in the West really dry, you’ll find you will need more water to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding altitude headaches and altitude sickness. Jenny Lake sits at 6,783 feet.
Pack layers, too, so that if the weather changes quickly, you have a rain jacket and warm top layer. You’ll also want sunscreen and a hat to protect your face from the sun.
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