Updated 09.21.2019: Do you enjoy a hike with choices—taking the long way when there’s time or choosing a shorter version that better fits your schedule? Hiking Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming, does just that.
Alan and I have hiked this popular Grand Teton trail twice—the longer Jenny Lake trail and the shorter one that makes use of a shuttle boat across Jenny Lake to the Hidden Falls trailhead. While we both recommend enjoying this trail in the fall, rather than during the busy summer season, it’s beautiful any time of year that you can manage it.
Tips for hiking to Hidden Falls in Grand Teton
Active boomers can hike the long way, reduce the miles with a one-way boat shuttle across Jenny Lake, or take the easy route that includes a round-trip journey across the water.
On our first fall visit to Grand Teton National Park, Alan and I started the long version of the Hidden Falls hike by walking around the lake’s south end to where Cascade Canyon trail leads to the falls. But on that trip, Alan had hurt his back playing handball. By the time we reached the boat dock on the west side of Jenny Lake, he opted to wait for me as I made the short hike up the trail to see Hidden Falls.
Tips for enjoying Hidden Falls trail on a fall trip to Wyoming
Fast forward ten years, and we’re hiking to Hidden Falls again—one of our favorite fall national park hikes—this time with friends. The journey into the park begins with a late start. We wisely choose to enjoy lunch at Jenny Lake Lodge before beginning the hike—I highly recommend the buffalo burger.
The Jenny Lake Visitor Center parking lot is crowded with tourists. Even though this is an easy hike in Grand Teton National Park, considering the late start, our small group of four opts for a round-trip boat shuttle across Jenny Lake to make sure that we actually see Hidden Falls. Although it’s after Labor Day, there are a number of visitors using the same strategy.
The shuttle boat motors ten minutes across Jenny Lake providing a fine view of the Tetons along the way. Carved by glacier movement during the last ice age, the lake is over 250 feet deep. On this sunny September day, the dark blue lake sparkles with sunlight.
Not a hiker? Choose the hour-long boat tour of Jenny Lake to enjoy the view and learn about the area’s history.
Reaching the other side of Jenny Lake, we exit the boat to begin the 1.2 mile round trip to Hidden Falls. Although the trail climbs steadily, it’s moderate enough that I don’t regret forgetting hiking poles.
The hike to Hidden Falls is the most popular trail in Grand Teton National Park so we don’t find that quiet peacefulness that our hikes usually provide. However the continuous hiking traffic is probably a good deterrent to wildlife, especially bears. Although we didn’t bring bear spray, I would not hike this trail without it on a quiet day in the park.
To avoid the crowds, take the Hidden Falls trail in the morning before the boat launch begins operation. The hike will be longer but there’s more possibility to see wildlife and enjoy the view in a quieter setting.
The trail crosses Cascade Creek (on a bridge) before winding up the canyon. Partly shaded by trees, it’s a pleasant hike that’s accompanied by the sounds of water rushing, bird calls and the scampering of chipmunks through dry leaves.
Reaching Hidden Falls, we find a shady spot to sit among the crowd of visitors admiring the cascade that tumbles 100 feet into the appropriately named Cascade Canyon. Finally, Alan sees what he missed on that long ago trip to the Grand Tetons. And we remark to each other about how crowded this spot must be in the summer.
From Hidden Falls, it’s possible to continue another .5 miles to Inspiration Point. But on our visit, this access was closed due to trail rehab efforts, which meant hikers had to retrace their steps to the boat dock and then head out on the horse trail to make it to the scenic viewpoint—a journey we saved for another day.
To learn about the latest trail conditions and closures, check this page at the Grand Teton National park website.
More Things to Do in Grand Teton National Park
Add these easy to moderate hikes in the Grand Tetons to your list:
When you need a break from hiking, check some of the other boomer travel adventures in Grand Teton National Park:
- Enjoy a scenic float trip on the Snake River
- Look for wildlife on a morning wildlife safari adventure
- See the Grand Tetons from the air on a scenic flight tour.
- Admire the sunset on a 5-hour Grand Teton sunset experience.
- Or visit the geysers at Yellowstone National Park. It’s not that far!
Where to stay in Grand Teton National Park
On this trip, we stayed at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole. But Alan and I have also enjoyed a budget-friendly log cabin at Signal Mountain Lodge. Other in-the-park lodging that we’d like to try:
You’ll find additional lodging choices in Tripadvisor’s article on 10 best hotels in Grand Teton National Park. Click here to read more.
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