Monday, May 18, 2009

Hiking in the Tetons

Today, my Dad and I got up and headed to the Ranger Station in Moose, WY, just inside Grand Teton National Park.

Entering GTNP

Albert in the Tetons

 On the way to the ranger station, we saw a large group of at least 30 elk running across the road ahead of us. 

Elk running in front of us

We asked the National Park rangers at the Moose Visitor Center about which trails were open and passable this early in the season. July through September is the ideal time to hike in the Tetons, because by then the snow has melted from most of the trails. The ranger directed us to the Taggart Lake Trail, one of the only hikable trails so far this season. We drove over to the trailhead, which was just down the road from the visitor center. Even the parking lot provided us with beautiful views, so we knew we were in for an amazing hike. 

The parking lot for the trailhead

Taggart Lake Trailhead

We started hiking at around 10:30 AM with the incredible beauty of the Tetons in front of us. The weather was warm, between 65 and 70 degrees with clear blue skies. We planned to hike a loop which would take us out to Bradley Lake and then along the shore of Taggart Lake on the way back to the trailhead.  We crossed a few streams on wooden bridges and then started to gain elevation as we walked.

After 2.2 miles or so, we came to a clearing on the Bradley Lake Trail from which we could see Taggart Lake below. It was a beautiful vista, with ice floating in the lake and mountains behind it. 
Taggart Lake

At this point, we started reaching many sections of the trail that were still covered in snow. We passed several people that had turned around up ahead, but we decided to continue to see if we could pass the snowy areas of the trail to Bradley Lake. 

The trail covered in snow

We went about half a mile further until the snow covered trail descended steeply towards the lake. At this point we regretfully decided to turn around, rather than risk falling down this section of trail. We went back to the intersection where the Taggart Lake Trail and Bradley Lake Trail intersect, and took the Taggart Lake Trail. This trail was also snow covered in some sections, but was a lot flatter, so we continued towards the lake. We walked for a half mile through the woods and across a meadow before we reached the shore of Taggart Lake, where we sat down to eat lunch.

Taggart Lake from our lunch site

As we were eating lunch, I noticed what appeared to be pieces of bread floating in the lake. People who do not practice leave no trace etiquette are putting everyone else in danger. If a bear happened to eat that bread and started associating bread with food, then every hiker carrying a sandwich in the backcountry is potentially at risk. Not only that, but if the bear became accustomed to eating people food, and then happened to attack someone, the bear would be put down. People should not enter the backcountry if they do not know what they are doing or are not willing to follow the rules. Pack everything out that you bring in, and leave no trace! 

As we were hiking, we were doing what I learned in Glacier - yelling "hey, bear" every few minutes or whenever we came to a curve in the trail. If bears know of your presence, they will almost always try to avoid an encounter. Most bear attacks happen when people and bears surprise each other on the trail. It is important to make your presence known to avoid this situation. Several times, other people we ran into on the trail asked us about this, and when we told them it was to make potential bears aware of our presence, they looked at us as if we were crazy. Again, it is scary to think that so many people venture into bear country so oblivious to bear safety etiquette. 

Hiking back to the trailhead

After lunch, we walked the 1.6 easy miles back to the trailhead. Despite having to turn around at just before reaching Bradley Lake, the hike was absolutely gorgeous and the day was warm and sunny. I don't know what else anyone could ask for!

Hike Location

View Places Hiked in a larger map

Taggart Lake Trail

View Taggart Lake in a larger map

After resting for a while, my Dad and I decided to have dinner at the Snake River Brewery. We decided to try the beer sampler. My favorite was the Dim Witbier, an unfiltered wheat beer similar to Hoegarden. The brewery was really cute and the food and beer were great. When Colin and I come back to the Tetons at the end of the summer, I want to bring him here - I know he will love it!

The beer sampler from the Snake River Brewery


  1. Oh my God, no wonder people get eaten by bears! I am confident you won't, though, since you know what's up.
    The photo from your lunch location is amazing!!! It's so beautiful out there! I'm quite jealous. And the Snake River Brewery sounds awesome- the kind of place Kyle and I would like, too!
    So glad you and your dad made the trip safely and are getting some time to hike together up there. I'm really enjoying reading about it and seeing your pics!

  2. thanks so much, jenn! it is amazing out here! you and kyle would really like it i think - jackson and the Tetons are just a few miles apart and there are tons of really cute little restaurants and bars and shops in town. its a really great little place - it would be the perfect location for you and kyle to try out some of that camping equipment you got as wedding gifts! :)

  3. Great pictures! I especially like the one of the 240 in the trailhead parking lot. It's a great shot with the mountains in the background. I can't believe there's still so much snow on the trails, even in the valley! It's amazing how beautiful it is out there. I'm glad you are putting the dumb American tourist in his/her place, Ranger Molly. There should be a mandatory Leave No Trace presentation before you are allowed on the trails. Also, I'll definitely take you up on the Sampler Platter at Snake River Brewery!

  4. Such scenic views- spectacular!!! Thank you Molly for sharing your adventures with us! I'm not much of a hiker/camper but your blog is making me think about changing that :)

  5. ethel, i think you would really like hiking... we should go sometime when we are back in g-ville this fall!