My favorite day hike in the Tetons features stunning views of Teewinot Mountain, Mount Owen and Grand Teton, passes pretty waterfalls, travels through alpine meadows awash in wildflower and ends at beautiful Lake Solitude, nestled in a rugged granite cirque.
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Why Hike Lake Solitude
The hike to Lake Solitude highlights the best features of Grand Teton National Park. The journey starts with a boat ride across beautiful Jenny Lake, accompanied by great views of the high peaks towering above the west side of the lake. In short order the trail ascends to Hidden Falls, a thundering cascade dropping 200-ft. down a series of rocky ledges, and then climbs to Inspiration Point with fine views of the lake and the Gros Ventre Mountains to the east.
Beyond Inspiration Point the trail gently ascends lovely Cascade Canyon, rimmed by a rugged ridge to the north and a trio of the highest peaks in the park, Teewinot Mountain (12,235-ft.), Mount Owen (12,927-ft.) and Grand Teton (13,770-ft.), to the south. Rock slides and avalanche chutes offer openings along the timbered canyon to view the high peaks, rugged crags and waterfalls along the way. Lovely Cascade Creek flows down the valley floor, at times meandering through willow thickets and in other spots tumbling over rocks and boulders. It’s not unusual to see moose grazing in the willows or wading across the small ponds and shallows along the creek.
At the Forks, the confluences of canyon’s South and North branches, our trail turns up the North Fork and soon emerges into an alpine wonderland rimmed by granite peaks. Here the ascent steepens as the trail climbs through rocky meadows filled with wildflowers, crosses rock slides and climbs over ledges and up rock outcroppings. Behind you, to the south, Teewinot Mountain, Mount Owen and Grand Teton form a stunning backdrop for this gorgeous valley.
Just before the head of the valley waterfalls, fed by Mica Lake and the Lake Solitude’s outlet stream, spill down the steep slopes above the trail. The well-water area around the falls supports an amazing profusion of colorful wildflower.
A final stiff climb leads to the scenic bench cradling Lake Solitude. Peak 10,686-ft. forms the backdrop for this photogenic lake. Steep rugged cliffs rise to the northwest while the trail to Paintbrush Divide climbs along the talus slopes and meadows of the massive wall rimming the east side of the valley. To the south the summits of Teewinot, Mount Owen and the Grand fill the skyline. Large rock slabs provide excellent perches to lounge around the lake and take in the stunning views.
The hike back is every bit as scenic as the hike to the lake. As you descend from Lake Solitude along the North Fork enjoy fabulous views of the Grand, Mount Owen and Teewinot Mountain for the first 2.0 miles. The easy grades and good trail along Cascade Canyon then allows you to cruise back to the boat dock.
There is one downside to the hike – the initial sections of the trail are very crowded. The hikes to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point are among the most popular trails in the park. I recommend getting an early start to avoid the crowds and allow ample time to enjoy this amazing hike.
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