By: Marc Bowen
I live a little over an hour away from two national parks. Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Both parks can be pretty crazy with the amount of people visiting in the summertime. These two parks are amazingly beautiful in their own way. I spent most of this summer hiking the trails in the Tetons. One of these trails is the Taggart Lake Loop.
GETTING TO THE TAGGART LAKE TRAIL HEAD
I live on the Idaho side of the Tetons so I drive over the mountain into Jackson Wyoming and then enter the park through the south entrance near Moose Wyoming. Just a few miles up the road on the inner highway is a parking lot and restrooms just off the highway. We left home well before light and arrived at the trail head just at sunrise (this is a good idea if you want to beat the crowds as this is a popular hike). As we exited our car we could hear an elk bugling and as we donned our gear we could see on the ridge where we were headed several elk in the trees. If you have ever heard the sound of a bull elk bugling in the cool morning air it is a sound you won’t forget. Even in midsummer early mornings are in the low 40’s so it’s best to dress in layers (by afternoon the temperature rose to about 80 degrees).
HIKING TO TAGGART LAKE
The hike into Taggart Lake is an easy hike with only a 277 foot elevation gain. There is one trail leading from the parking lot straight toward the Tetons across a flat area and then over a glacial moraine. It’s 3.2 miles in and out or you can take the loop from the lake south around and back along Beaver Creek and that is about 4 miles. We took the 4 mile loop in order to come back a different way.
After you leave the parking lot, and cross the flats the trail winds through some beautiful aspen groves that are especially beautiful in the fall.
The trail then crosses Taggart Creek via a bridge that is perfect for photos.
While on the bridge look to your left for a great view of a waterfall
The trail crosses Taggart Creek, circles past Park Service corrals and an historic old barn and cabin from the homestead era ( circa 1911 ), and turns back towards the mountains.
The trail then climbs up the moraine along the creek then as you flatten out and walk towards the mountains the trail then splits right towards Bradley Lake ( see my Bradley Lake Loop Trail post ) and left toward Taggart Lake through an old burn and down to the lake.
Taggart Lake is a pristine glacial lake sitting at the base of Avalanche Canyon with views of the high peaks behind. I am told that fishing for trout from the shore is pretty good. The water is cold and I’m sure the fish would be tasty. This is a perfect place to break out the camera for photos or canvas and brushes to begin a painting. We lingered here for about an hour then continued south around the end of the lake across a footbridge over a low rise then down along Beaver Creek back to the trail head. The parking lot was full to overflowing when we returned with people of all ages headed up the trail. As I said before this area is very popular and if you want to beat the crowd and the heat go early!