Jenny Lake is one of the most scenic and popular areas of Grant Teton National Park. It was also its first developed area. After setting up camp at Colter Bay, we packed lunches, drove to Jenny Lake, and set off on a late afternoon hike.
With only a few hours of daylight left, we decided to hike half of the 7.1 mile loop around Jenny Lake. The Jenny Lake Trail is a relatively flat and easy loop trail around the lake providing breathtaking views of the mountains towering over it. Our plan was to start at the visitor center, finish at the shuttle boat station across the lake, and ride the boat back to the visitor center. It didn’t quite work out that way but it was still an enjoyable hike.
Before I begin explaining the hike, I should tell you about the shuttle boat that can ferry visitors across the lake. The boat provides easier access to a popular trail connected to the Jenny Lake loop, saving lots of time and energy for those who want to hike to Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point. For example, Hidden Falls is a five mile hike from the visitor center but only a mile from the west boat dock. As of May 2016, it costs US$15 for adults round-trip and US$9 one-way (US$8/$6 for children) and is operated by Jenny Lake Boating.
We started hiking at 4pm. After a few minutes, the hike was already paying dividends with some magnificent views of the mountains.
After about 20 minutes and a some slight uphill walking through a colorful forest, we reached a point where we could see across the lake. Adding to the scene was a gorgeous rainbow that arced over the lake. We stopped for a few minutes to admire the view and continued through the forest. The trail eventually came back closer to the lake.
At about 5pm, I reached the perfect place to have my very late lunch. I had told Martin and Gönül that if I find a spot where I can sit at the water’s edge with a view of the mountains directly in front of me, I’m stopping to eat. To my right was a view clear across the lake. To the left were tall trees with a mist-covered mountain behind them.
Hiking to the Dock
My idyllic meal came to an end and I caught up to Martin and Gönül. We walked through the forest a bit more, passed a small waterfall on Cascade Creek, and came to the boat dock. Guess what? No boats. The boat’s season had ended a week before. We had a choice to continue the loop or hike back the way we came. We chose the latter because we didn’t want to get caught in the dark on an unfamiliar part of the trail.
End of the Hike
I made it back to the parking lot at around 6:45pm. Just under three hours to do the hike was good, and with the crisp mountain air it was refreshing. We drove back to our campsite where Gönül cooked a delicious and hearty meal.