Our work time in the Tetons went so quickly, and honestly, we could spend years and probably not hike every trail out there. And even though we didn’t have time to do an overnight backpacking trip this go-round, we knocked out 2 epic day hikes.
Trailhead: Lupine Meadows
Out and Back Mileage: 10.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,963 feet
With dozens of peaks so divinely proportioned rising up 1000s of feet into the sky, it’s hard to look down. But once you do, you’ll get to enjoy all the sapphire-colored lakes found throughout the park.
We finally made it to 2 pretty popular alpine lakes that have been on our list since last year: Surprise (9,570 feet) and Amphitheater (9,698 feet).
Thanks to the record snowfall the Teton Valley received this year, the last mile was still full of snow! Thankfully, we had our microspikes, making it manageable. You can go beyond these lakes to Delta, but we didn’t feel like we needed to put forth any more snow travel effort (especially since this was my first hike with my recovering ankle).
The lakes were still frozen over, but their unique coloring was still present. We couldn’t linger too long, cause a lovely thunder cloud was heading our way.
We saw a handful of black bears along the way from a distance, but ended up having the closest bear encounter we ever had. I was in front and heard Justin yelling, “Go bear go!” (I actually thought he yelled, “Go babe go!”) I turned around to see a bear just about 15 feet away. He apparently was about to cross our paths/run into us until Justin spotted him and yelled. Thankfully, he reacted to our yelling and just changed his course a little bit to avoid us. Phew. Of course I couldn’t capture a picture, but I did get one of a cute marmot!
Avalanche Canyon / Shoshoko Falls
Trailhead: Taggart Lake
Out and Back Mileage: 9.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,211 feet
Everything in the Teton Range pretty much wins America’s geologic beauty contest, so you can’t really go wrong. We took the advice of seasoned locals to go a little deeper into the park. You can see Shoshoko Falls from Taggart Lake (if you really magnify this picture, you’ll see them in the U). I swear, in person, the falls look much closer than they are!
This trek takes you west into Avalanche Canyon off the Taggart Lake trail. The Avalanche Canyon trail is more popular in the winter, so can be difficult to follow since it sees less people and there are a lot of downed trees. The trick is staying close to the river when you lose the trail (and having a good map to help guide you), and not straying into the surrounding boulder fields.
Once we finally came out to a clearing, Shoshoko Falls came into full view, and then all the effort became worth it. The 200-foot falls are in full flow with all the snowmelt.
You can actually climb up the rocks and boulder fields to get on top of Shoshoko Falls and go beyond to Lake Taminah, but we could see the ice & snow up there. Dicy travel ahead! We really want to go back to this area as there are more alpine lakes up there and a cirque called “The Wall,” which basically is the border of Grand Teton National Park … This was enough adventure for one day, but maybe someday.
The rumor is Avalanche Trail is where you see all the grizzly bear and moose. So we spent most of our time talking out loudly to warn the bear, and it must have worked. Because we saw … NONE. (But we saw some cool cocoons!)
And now we are off into “The Great North.” I’ll do a Teton recap next time we get service, but unlikely during our drive through Canada! This will be Justin’s 3rd drive to Alaska, and my 2nd. Woohoo!!