Grand Teton National Park Hiking – Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point

Jenny Lake - Grand Teton National ParkGrand Teton National Park – Wyoming

The Grand Teton National Park is located in the northwestern part of Wyoming. It is due south of Yellowstone National Park. It has a spectacular, rich landscape with majestic mountains, pristine lakes and is teaming with a large variety of wildlife. The mountain range pierces the sky, while the glacial lakes adorn their base with a rich, blue platform. The valleys in front of the lakes are covered in pale green sage. The park attracts nearly four million visitors per year.  Grand Teton National Park Hiking is amazing.

Trail: Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point Trails in Cascade Canyon

Directions: (From NPS website)

From Salt Lake City, Utah (approximately 275 miles/5-6 hours):
1) I-15 to Idaho Falls. 2) Highway 26 to Swan Valley. 3) Highway 31 over Pine Creek Pass to Victor. 4) Highway 22 over Teton Pass, through Wilson to Jackson. You will see a sign in Swan Valley directing you to Jackson via Highway 26 to Alpine Junction, ignore the sign and follow the signs to Victor/Driggs, Idaho.
If you would like to avoid the 10% grade of Teton Pass: 1) Highway 26 from Idaho Falls to Swan Valley. 2) Continue on Highway 26 to Alpine Junction. 3) Highway 26/89 to Hoback Junction. Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.
OR
1) I-80 to Evanston. 2) Highway 89/16 to Woodruff, Randolph, and Sage Creek Junction. 3) Highway 30/89 to Cokeville and then Border. 4) Continue on Highway 89 to Afton, and then to Alpine Junction. 5) Highway 26/89 to Hoback Junction. 6) Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.

From Denver, Colorado (approximately 550 miles/9-10 hours):
1) I-25N to Cheyenne. 2) I-80W through Laramie to Rock Springs. 3) Highway 191 North through Pinedale. 4) Highway 191/189 to Hoback Junction. 5) Highway 191 to Jackson.
OR
1) I-25N to Fort Collins. 2) Highway 287 North to Laramie. 3) I-80W to Rawlins. 4) Highway 287 to Muddy Gap Junction. 5) Continue on Highway 287 to Jeffrey City, Lander, Fort Washakie, Crowheart, and Dubois. 6) Highway 287/26 over Togwotee Pass to Moran. 7) Highway 26/89/191 to Jackson.

General Information:

Distance: Hidden Falls - Grand Teton National Park

There are two ways to reach Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. You pick up the trail and hike from the Jenny Lake Visitor Center or take a ferry across Jenny Lake from the boat dock at the Visitor Center.

Hidden Falls: If you hike from the Visitor Center it is 5.2 miles round trip, (3 hours), 550 feet total climbing. If you take the ferry across, 1.2 miles round trip, (1 1/2 hours), 150 feet total climbing. This is a moderate trail. Hidden Falls are not really falls at all. They are Cascades.

Inspiration Point: If you hike from the Visitor Center it is 6.0 miles round trip (4 hours), 800 feet total climb. If you take the ferry across, 2.0 miles round trip, (2 1/2 hours), 420 feet total climb. The park literature calls this a moderate to strenuous climb. Note: this trail leads off of the Hidden Falls Trail.

Family Oriented: The Hidden Falls trail is for all ages. It is nice and wide, short distance (if you take the ferry) and the view of the falls at the end is well worth it. The Inspiration Point Trail is another matter. The trail is narrow and steep in certain locations. This may not be good for smaller children.

Dogs Allowed: Not allowed on any trail.

Fees: There are many fees associated with this hike. Park entrance fee, as well as, a Ferry crossing fee (if you decide to take that route). Here is the Grand Teton National Park Fee Schedule Page.

Hidden Falls - Grand Teton National ParkAbout: We took the ferry across Jenny Lake. Once off the ferry, the Hidden Falls trail is a gradual elevation gain until you reach the falls. You are in Cascade Canyon and the trail follows the valley floor. There are breathtaking views as you look up the canyon walls. Hidden Falls, at the end of the trail, is a 200 foot high cascade. As you are going to the Hidden Falls, the Inspiration Point trail leads off to the right. From almost the very start, the trail is in a steep climb along the canyon wall. There are points where only one person can pass. In these locations, it is a good idea to stay near the “wall” side of the trail, because there are sheer, high drop offs. This is not a trail for the person extremely afraid of heights.

The Hike: Grand Teton National Park Hiking is expansive.  There are so many trails to choose from. We decided on something shorter, because of our limited time. We arrived at the parking lot at the Jenny Lake Visitor Center later than we wanted to. It was early afternoon and it did take some time to find a parking space. Because of the later time of day, and taking advice from our relatives, we decided to take the ferry across. There was a fee for each way (we could have hiked back if we wanted). The afternoon was a nice temperature in the 70s with clear blue skies. It was mid-July. There was a line at the boat dock, but we were on in no time. During the summer months, the ferries run often, about every 15 minutes. The ferry we rode on was a typical pontoon boat with a cover over about half of it. With the breeze from the moving boat, it kept us cool and the views from the lake were wonderful. Also, since I was seated and not having to worry about driving or hiking, I was able to take a lot of pictures.

They dropped everyone off at the trail head and we were on our way. The trail was extremely crowded. I have heard that this is one of the busiest trails in the park. That didn’t deter us and the trail was wide and well maintained. There was split rail fencing on part of the trail and nice bridges to cross the Cascade Creek with nice small cascades along the way. We arrived at the end of the Hidden Falls trail and were greeted with an incredible view of the cascade. The volume of water was amazing.Hidden Falls - Grand Teton National Park 2

We headed back towards the trail head to pick up the Inspiration Point trail. Again, it was very crowded. There were times where we would have to stop to let people pass a narrow stretch on their way down. There are a couple of nice open areas on the way up. At these points, you can look out over Jenny Lake and beyond. But, don’t end your hike at these, the view from the top is truly inspiring, thus the name. There are small Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrels at these look out points. They are a little aggressive. This is probably due to people have either given them food or they find scraps that people have dropped from their lunches. Please, do not feed any wild animals. It doesn’t matter how cute they are. This is bad for the wildlife.

We carefully made our way back down the trail and to the ferry. A great afternoon hike. I can see why it is one of the favorites in the park.

Tips:

  • If you are going during the summer months, go early in the morning to beat the crowds. Find out when the ferries start and be at the dock then. (I have heard that they run a special early ferry that you may be able to get on. Ask the park personnel for information).
  • This is Bear Country, be aware of all the precautions when hiking in this area.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water. Even though this was a short hike, I drank what I thought was more water than normal.
  • Grand Teton National Park Hiking can be at higher elevations. If you are a low-lander like me, know that you may get out of breath a lot easier. Don’t push yourself.
  • The weather can change quickly, be prepared with the appropriate gear.
  • All overnight camping in the back country requires a permit.

Hoping your next hike is Relaxing, Safe and Inspiring,

Russell

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