Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park

This is the view of Cascade Canyon from a turnout on the one way road along Jenny Lake.

Cascade Canyon from across Jenny Lake:

Photo below © E J Peiker

e j peiker photo Jenny Lake panorama:

The hike up into Cascade Canyon is probably the most popular in Grand Teton National Park, sometimes crowded, but not if you get up earlier and walk a little farther than most of the hikers. (Often 500 people per hour have used the trail below Hidden Falls. In a 2011 one day visitor count 1,626 people (650 per hour) reached Hidden Falls, 1,377 of them continued on, and of those 1,060 reached Inspiration Point. Previous studies show that of those who visit the falls, only 31% continue up the Cascade Canyon trail past Inspiration Point.)

below, a photo of a display at the Jenny Lake visitor center, Cascade Canyon is the one almost snow free near the center:

photo of a display at a visitor center, photo of Jenny Lake

We’ve seen moose, deer, a black bear, a pine marten, a fox, a weasel, marmots, pikas, river otters, golden-mantled ground squirrels, tree squirrels, Steller jays, tanagers, sparrows, water ouzels, butterflies and more.

As you go up in elevation you’ll find different spring/summer flowerings. Moose, Wyoming is at 6,454 feet elevation. Just as the snow melts earlier at a lower elevation, the same flowers that bloom in Moose will be blooming about a day later for every 100 feet in elevation you climb.

A long spring or early summer hike up Cascade Canyon will not only give you great views back down to the flatlands, closer-up views of the snow-topped range and all those cascades tumbling down the cliff walls, but also days earlier peak wildflower bloom than on the flats.

You can catch the (fee) shuttle boat across Jenny Lake (6,783 feet elevation) (late spring to early fall) and save 2 miles of hiking, but you have to wait for the first boat run. (Check when the last shuttle boat return run will be and plan your hike accordingly or plan to walk farther. Last boat leaves the dock at the posted closing time.) Reservations not required.

Schedule from the website in 2018, “Water, Weather, and Trail Conditions permitting, our schedule will be as follows:

May 15 – June 7: 10 am – 4 pm

June 8 – Sept 3: 7 am – 7 pm

Sept 4 – Sept 30: 10 am – 4 pm

From the website in 2019: “Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. The last boat will leave the dock at the posted closing time.”

Cost (from the website 2019) round trip adult (12 yrs to 61 yrs) $18, round trip child (2 yrs to 11 yrs) $10, one way adult $, one way child $8, senior (62+) round trip $15, (no one way senior rate) under 2 and over 80 free.

At heavy usage times there will be a line to wait in.

Jenny Lake boating lightning policy 2007

shuttle boat on Jenny lake: shuttle boat underway on Jenny lake

You can do a short (one half mile from the boat dock to the falls) hike to Hidden Falls and the Inspiration Point viewpoint that looks down to the lake (The Rangers sometimes lead hikes there, 2 1/2 hours, 2 miles, with some moderate uphills, usually limited to 25 people) or for a farther hike it’s 4.5 miles to the trail junction at the forks of Cascade canyon (elevation 7,840 feet) and another 2.7 miles and a 1,000 foot plus climb to Lake Solitude at 9,024 feet elevation. This part of the trail may have snow until the first part of July and ice may not leave the lake until then. Wildflowers at the lake peak in late July or early August depending on the snow melt. If you get a permit this can be a backpack all the way up Paintbrush Divide and looping back down to String and Jenny Lakes.

Please note that in the summer of 2016, 2017, 2018, and potentially 2019there will be trail re-construction as a part of the Jenny Lake renewal project. Hikers will find the “newly completed Hidden Falls viewing area and continue 0.3 miles uphill to the scenic Lower Inspiration Point.”

A park service map of the construction area at Jenny Lake for 2018 is below:

map of a edge of lake and construction zone

A park service map of the closed trail summer of 2018 is below:

map with trails and a closed trail section

This was the closure summer of 2016/2017:

NPS map Hidden Falls trail closure summer 2016

Read about the project and see before and after pictures at the campaign for Jenny Lake

AND in part of summer 2018, rangers were “monitoring a crack in a rock buttress above the Hidden Falls viewing area near Jenny Lake. To ensure visitor safety, the information is being used to develop a risk assessment of the potential for rockfall. . . (July) the Hidden Falls viewing area is currently closed out of an abundance of caution . . and the trail reopened in August. The huge piece of rock fell in early November (“The crack in the rock identified earlier this summer was approximately 100 feet long and it appears that the entire length of the crack broke off or calved from the mountainside. After initial observation, it appears that the Hidden Falls Overlook did not receive any damage. Large rock debris is located about 50 yards from the overlook with small rock and tree branch debris closer to the overlook area.”). Always check with Rangers for trail conditions before you go so you won’t need to be disappointed.

The Grand Teton Online Ranger Station, with climbing, mountain pass, canyon and trail route conditions is at:

There you will find info you need to know, for example in 2012, Lake Solitude started to melt around the edges by June 30, and was open water July 13. By July 13 the north fork of Cascade Canyon was mostly dry and all campsites were snow free. By July 20 only patchy snow remained in the upper portion of Paintbrush Canyon.

Below are pictures of the raised relief map at the Moose and Jenny Lake visitor centers showing the area from Taggart Lake to Jackson lake and a closeup of (L to R) Jenny Lake (6,783 feet elevation), Leigh Lake and Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons. The red arrow points to the Jenny Lake visitor center and shuttle boat dock location.

relief map of Taggart Lake to Jackson Lake: relief map of Jenny and Leigh lakes:

and below, a landstat image of the area from Jenny Lake to String and Leigh lakes:

landstat Grand Teton park Jenny string lakes:

You can find a larger copy of the NPS photo map below of Jenny Lake, String Lake, Leigh Lake, Paintbrush Divide, Cascade Canyon, Paintbrush Canyon, Hanging Canyon, Mount Woodring, Mount Moran, Teewinot, Holly Lake and Lake Solitude at:

photo map with trails, lakes, peaks and roads

You can find a larger copy of the NPS photo trail map below of Thor peak, Mount Moran, Mount Woodring, Rockchuck Peak, Mount Moran, Paintbrush Divide, the Jaw, Jenny Lake, Leigh Lake, String Lake, Bearpaw Lake, Trapper lake, Paintbrush Canyon, Leigh Canyon, Cascade Canyon, Moran Canyon, Holly Lake and Lake Solitude


photo map of trails, lakes, peaks

Most people only do the short walk to Hidden Falls, so the crowds disappear as you go farther.

Below, Hidden Falls in June and September:

Hidden Falls: Hidden falls september 2005:

a fed bear is a dead bear sign:

After the fall the trail becomes increasingly steep, leading to several viewpoints with wide views across Jenny Lake. The first viewpoint has almost as good of a view as the last, so consider at least going that far if the remaining steeper trail would bother you.

Below, the last long switchback to Inspiration Point:

last switchback to Inspiration Point:

Below, a shuttle boat takes off from the dock below a viewpoint.

shuttle boat from Inspiration Point:

Below the view up into the canyon from Inspiration Point:

WY_InspirationPoint01 copyright EJ Peiker: rows of mountain peaks and just a little clouds

photo above © E J Peiker used with permission

If you planned ahead and brought enough water, lunch and rain gear you could continue into the canyon.
There is water only steps away here and there in the canyon, but it is only safe to drink if you brought a water purifier.

pumping water Cascade Canyon:

There are no restrooms or pit toilets along the trail. You should be prepared to “urinate at least 200 feet from streams and lakes. To prevent contamination of waterways, bury feces in a hole 6-8 inches deep at least 200 feet from streams and lakes. Pack out” (do not bury or burn) “used toilet paper,” etc.

After some hiking near the creek, the trail opens up with a first view of the peaks. Can you see the hiker midway along the trail in this section?

Cascade Canyon trail and mtn: Cascade Creek just up into the canyon:

On the right, about a half mile along the flatish section of trail above the first canyon switchbacks, Storm Point draws climbers. The first part of the southwest ridge route, known as Guide’s Wall, draws more climbers than most other one day climbs. Climbing experience required. Without experience, but with with binoculars, you can spot and watch climbers along a lot of the canyon when you hear their voices reflecting off the walls.

The park service warns that you should stay 300 feet from big mammals like moose, elk or bison. (The flowers in the foreground are columbine.)

Cascade Canyon Moose and Columbine:

The bull didn’t give us a classic pose for a picture during the half an hour we watched him. With your own binoculars you can see animals up close.

moose and snow patch:

Friends hiking the day before also photographed a bull moose from a safe distance. You can always enlarge part of the photo. (Photo below by Wendy Sato).

moose by Wendy Sato: moose closeup by Wendy Sato:

As luck may have it, you can wait and watch for hours and the Bull Moose with the huge antlers will stay napping.

antlers of napping bull moose:

But minutes later, another person in your group could find this scene Sylvia Gallegos photographed:

two moose by Sylvia Gallegos:

two moose closer by Sylvia Gallegos:


cascade canyon 2007 cow and calf moose peaks in background:

cow calf moose cascade canyon 2007: cow calf moose cascade canyon, tetons 2007:

Or you might be able to sit on the trail, looking down towards the river, and watch a bull moose for a half hour:

moose 2009 Cascade Canyon hike: moose by a creek, still with velvet

Stop for awhile and look for Pikas and Marmots in the talus (rockslide) slopes. Below a baby pika huddles close to mom. (Photo by Wendy Sato).

less grainy pika by Wendy Sato: pika and baby by Wendy Sato:

closer view of Pika Grand Teton Natl Park Sept 2006: marmot and pica on trail: marmot and pica on trail

and one year we watched a pika scampering with food to dry and store for the winter.

pika with a large leafy branch in his mouth

(see also Pika )

first talus slope Cascade Canyon:
Cascade Creek at second talus slope: cascade canyon cascades and clouds: cascades down a forested cliff and clouds

All along this trail you will find wildflowers.

Penstemon in the Tetons: Silky Phacelia and Columbine:

At Cascade Canyon wildflowers you’ll find pictures of Penstemon, Silky Phacelia, Western Serviceberry, Cascade Mountain Ash and Columbine in June and fall colors of Asters, Mountian Ash and Aspen in September.

The farther into the canyon and the higher in elevation you go the lower the temperature will be. One forecast on the 2009 trip had 75 degrees in the valley at 6,000 feet elevation, 68 degrees at 8,000 feet and 60 degrees at 10,000 feet. Another forecast had 68 degrees in the valley at 6,000 feet, 61 degrees at 8,000 feet and 53 degrees at 10,000 feet.

Lake Solitude hikers with early fall snow 2006:
In 2005 and 2007 it snowed on hikers at 9,039 feet elevation Lake Solitude and rained on those lower down. Grand Tetons Weather

photo by Peter Ye Ethan Wilkie jumps into lake solitude: man jumps from granite rock into lake photo by Ethan Wilkie Peter Ye jumps into lake solitude: man jumps from granite rock into lake photo by Peter Ye Ethan Wilkie swimming in Lake Solitude: man swimming in a mountain lake

In 2011 it was sunny all day and a couple of hikers swam. (Yes, the water they jumped in to was very deep.)

By June 8, 2014 there was 60% snow up Cascade Canyon and nearly 100% snow to Lake Solitude. By June 4, 2013 the first 4.5 miles of the Cascade Canyon trail had minimal snow, by July 4, 2013 the Cascade Canyon trail was free of snow all the way to to Lake Solitude.

Early in the season (this from June 2014) you will find some of the trail lower down completely filled with snowbanks:

hiking through snowbanks cascade canyon June 2014: man with pack hiking through a large snowbank that covers the trail

Most park high elevation trails, canyons and passes still contained patchy snow or small snowfields to cross by the end of July 2010/2013, mid July 2012. By the end of July 2011, there was still 2-5 feet deep snow at higher elevations and many passes.

High elevation campsites can clear up from snow with enough space to pitch a tent in mid to late June, but the bear boxes can remain buried in snow so bear canisters will be required by the park.

Below, park service photos of the north fork of Cascade Canyon as seen from the summit of the Grand Teton July 25, 2010 and June 28, 2012. In July, 2010 Lake Solitude was barely melted out and Paintbrush Canyon had a small path shoveled out of it’s steep snow patch. A backpacker had lost his balance on this steep snow, and broke (open fracture) his leg July 18.

NPS photo N. Fork of Cascade Canyon as seen from the summit of the Grand Teton July 2010: tree covered canyon with snow capped mountains aboveNPS photo cascade canyon from summit of grand teton june 28 2012: a canyon as seen from above with patchy snow

Again from NPS, Cascade Canyon, May 21, 2016:

Cascade Canyon May 21, 2016 NPS photo

And on July 2, 2016 the Jenny Lake Climbing Rangers had this note: “Patchy snow up near Lake Solitude with continued patchy snow on the long traverse and climb up to Paintbrush Divide. Ice axe still recommended for the divide.”

Below: NPS display of part of the trail up to Lake Solitude, over Paintbrush Divide and down to Holly Lake on the Paintbrush Canyon trail.

nps display Lake Solitude and nearby trails

NPS photos of Lake Solitude and the view to the southeast from above Lake Solitude:

NPS photo Lake Solitude: NPS photo view to southeast from Lake Solitude:

and Lake Solitude again and the Paintbrush Canyon trail:

lake solitude wildflowers nps photo: lake, mountain and wildflowers paintbrush canyon trail nps photo: trail up a canyon

Enhance your hike by reading:

The day hike gear section at Camping equipment checklist

GORP and hiking snacks

Thunderstorm and lightning safety includes the answer to the question: Why can’t you swim during a lightning storm? A strike on a lake doesn’t kill all the fish in the lake.

At altitude

Backpacking Advice

see also: Cell phones in the wilderness which has advice on how/when to use a cell phone to contact 911 in the wilderness and a warning about interference between cell phones, iPods and avalanche beacons.

NPS photo short haul rescue: National Park Service photo of a short haul rescue showing helicopter, litter and rescuer from below You can’t always expect a helicopter rescue

fatal, near fatal or close call incidents/accidents in camping, backpacking, climbing and mountaineering

GPS is not infallible

Can a person who is prescribed an epi-pen risk going into the wilderness? and some sting prevention notes are at: Anaphylaxis quick facts

Leave no trace

Hiking Advice has hot weather hiking advice, hiking logistics and the answer to the question: When is the best time of day to cross a mountain stream?

Enhance your drive to the park: Road trip advice and etiquette

The day hike gear section at Camping equipment checklist

animal sign comparisons

Rocky Mountain mammal size comparisons

Grizzlies are rare in the Grand Tetons, but growing in number.

your safety in grizzly bear territory tells you what to do if
you see a bear in the distance or a bear charges you and has info, including links to park videos about Bear Pepper Sprays.

Camping solutions for women has tips for and answers typical questions from first-time women campers,
including the question: Can menstruating women camp or backpack around bears? YES.

Bears has links to general info about bears, then practicalities of camping and backpacking around bears, (food storage, what to do if you see a bear) mostly geared towards our trips around black bears in California.

See also Grand Tetons sightseeing, Grand Tetons backpacking

Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park photos

NASA aerial photo of Teton Range

photo below by Quang-Tuan Luong/
, all rights reserved.

terragalleria tetons Cascade creek afternoon storm: