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Taggart Lake: An Easy Hike to a Picturesque Lake

Posted by Jim Steele on May 24th, 2008 filed in Grand Teton National Park

One of the easiest lakes in Grand Teton National Park to hike to is Taggart Lake – but easy access doesn’t mean that the lake isn’t beautiful. Taggart is tucked right up against the Tetons and the view of the lake at the base of the range doesn’t disappoint.

Taggart is a popular hike and also makes a great cross-country skiing or snowshoeing adventure in the winter. You might also see a few trail-runners in the summer. Backcountry skiers pass through the area in the winter.

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It’s possible to follow the main trail from the parking lot up to the lake and then loop back via a second trail. Or if one lake isn’t enough, you can make a side trip to Bradley Lake. Also, various other trails originate or can be accessed from the Bradley-Taggart area, including Avalanche Canyon (an unofficial trail that isn’t on your map) and the Garnet Canyon/Amphitheater Lake trails. At around 6,900 feet in elevation, Taggart is not much higher than the level of Jackson Hole – your elevation gain on this hike is 272 feet. The area is perfect for an after-work hike in the summer and makes a perfect picnic area.

Getting to the Taggart Lake trailhead is easy. From Moose, follow the Inner Park Road north for about three miles. Just before Cottonwood Creek you’ll see a marked – and large – parking area on the west side of the road. This area of the park is popular with hikers, climbers and campers, so expect some company on the trail.

From the parking lot, it’s 1.6 miles to Taggart Lake. The trailhead, along with a map of the nearby hiking trails and an outhouse, is at the north end of the parking lot by the outhouse.

The first stretch of the trail is flat, wide and largely unforested, which is a great bonus because it offers a superb view of the Tetons. If your camera has a panoramic mode, this is a great place to try it out.

A panoramic view of the Tetons, taken from the Taggart Lake trail.

Soon after leaving the trailhead, you’ll come to a junction where you can go straight or turn right. To follow the shortest trail to Taggart, turn right here. You’ll follow the trail to a bridge over Taggart Creek, where the water will be gushing down the hill. The view of the tumbling waters from the bridge makes another cool picture – especially since you can get the tip of a mountain in the background. There are plenty of boulders in the area, providing evidence that glaciers have come through. Taggart Lake was formed by a glacier coming down Avalanche Canyon.

Taggart Creek gushes down the glacial moraine near Taggart Lake.

From here, you’ll pass behind a ranch, cross another arm of Taggart Creek, then continue climbing up the glacial moraine, following Taggart Creek. This modest slope will comprise the majority of the elevation gain on this hike.

Next, the trail will flatten out and you will come to a junction where you can turn north to Bradley Lake or follow the main trail to Taggart Lake; you’re only about half a mile from Taggart. If you decide to head to Bradley Lake, you’ll have the option of making a loop to Taggart via a second trail. The trail from the parking lot to Bradley Lake is two miles each way; looping from the trailhead to Bradley to Taggart and back to your car is a little longer.

On our last trip, we saw a moose grazing on the ridge near the Bradley Lake junction. The forest here is thin, thanks to a fire in 1985, and gives you a chance to see firsthand how quickly nature can rejuvenate. After passing through the burned area, you’ll return to the forest, into another clearing, and then on to the lake.

A moose grazes on a ridge near the Taggart Lake / Bradley Lake junction.

Stop and enjoy Taggart. The setting is gorgeous, set against the Tetons and at the base of Avalanche Canyon. The waters are pristine and the backdrop is first rate. If you’re taking pictures, wander around the shore and down to the bridge at the south end of the lake. Kodak moments abound.

Taggart Lake, with the Teton Range as a backdrop

The Teton Range is reflected in Taggart Lake

To return home, retrace your steps or follow the loop trail south of the lake – it’s 1.6 miles if you retrace your steps or 2.4 miles if you take the southern loop. I hope to write more about the loop option and the trip to Bradley Lake later this summer.

Trail conditions: We hiked to Taggart Lake on May 18. The first half of the trail was mostly clear of snow but muddy in areas. Past the Bradley Lake junction, we had to walk on snow the whole way. The lake was still partially frozen, although it won’t take long for the ice surface to melt.


Grand Teton National Park day hike guide (PDF)

One Response to “Taggart Lake: An Easy Hike to a Picturesque Lake”

  1. The Mountain Goat » Bradley and Taggart Lakes Says:

    […] to a loop that goes from the trailhead to Bradley Lake, to Taggart Lake, and home via Beaver Creek. I’ve already written about the hike straight into Taggart Lake. This article is about the “Grand Loop,” which is about six miles. If that’s more […]