Taggart Lake Hike
The US National Parks system is one of the crown jewels of our country. Being able to set aside beautiful and breathtaking venues, preserve them, and provide public access really is an amazing part of our national fabric.
Before heading to Yellowstone National Park in the summer of 2012, we were spending a few days in the Grand Tetons and Jackson, Wyoming area (way-too-many photos here). Given the wild and beautiful surroundings, we wanted to take a nice hike into the foothills of the Tetons and explore.
Prior to even leaving home, we had looked at several hike options. Since the appeal of the Tetons reflected in a clear mountain lake is so strong, having a large body of water was going to be key. Also, since we were going to be hiking around the very popular and well-visited Jenny Lake at one point, it was decided to look for something that was more remote and less popular.
There are a pair of lakes, Taggart and Bradley, that have well-defined hiking trails (so we could count on having fellow travelers from time to time – safety!) and the draw of *two* beautiful lakes on one hike.
It made it an easy choice. 🙂
Since we had arrived in Jackson the previous afternoon and had only seen the Tetons from the surrounding roads, this was the first entrance into the actual Grand Teton National Park. As you would expect, the closer we get to the base of the Tetons, the more impressive they become.
A nice parking lot, a few picnic tables, and a “rest station” marked the trailhead. So, while this isn’t exactly “remote” in the sense of “wild and no one gets here”, it certainly was less populated than the far more well-known Jenny Lake and Jackson Lake areas.
A nice flier on “Bear Attacks” sets a cheery mood, so with that … WE’RE OFF!
A nice walk
It’s really a nice and fairly easy hike with only a mild increase in altitude as a result of the slope of the foothills leading up to the Teton range looming over us.
Setting out, Melanie and Kathy head out in front of me, as I’m going to be taking pictures along the way (shocking, I know).
A relatively short distance along the trail brings us to Taggart Creek and a cool log bridge spanning the rushing water below. It’s a great photo location, but we’re all enjoying the walk and keep moving.
Another nice stopping point as we get into the trees gives a perfectly-framed tree line view of the Grand Teton peaks.
Coming out of that and into another open meadow really starts to set in that we’re away from civilization.
This was *exactly* what we needed. The cool afternoon air, the almost-cloudless blue skies, the chirping of the birds, the “purple mountains majesty”… and that’s it. Perfect.
So, even though the trail isn’t a tough one, it’s still well over 6,000 feet in altitude, which to these Texas folks is “kinda high”. The slightly thinner air does make a difference, and a couple of miles later, we’re ready for a nice lunch break. It’s perfect timing that we happen upon Taggart Lake at just the right time!
Finding a few great rocks along the lake and digging into our backpacks for our lunches, we’re greeted with some truly spectacular views of not only the Teton range, but also their perfect reflections in the crystal clear waters.
It’s easy to see why people fall in love with the mountains. I certainly have.
Cleaning up our lunch back into our pack (take nothing but memories – leave nothing behind but footprints!), we walk around the lake just a little further when we come across a few people excitedly chattering among themselves.
Turns out we *JUST* missed seeing a bear fishing along the lake a bit further up.
Double-edged sword, I think. 🙂
An icy swim
Taking a slightly different path by walking alongside Taggart Lake, it’s another nice hike over to Bradley Lake. It’s a bit of a climb, again with the slightly thinner air being noticeable.
We get to Bradley Lake, with it’s own impressive backdrop of the Teton range rising behind it. But, and this isn’t really surprising for this time of year, there are some storm clouds rising behind the range as well.
Melanie, though, absolutely isn’t going to pass up taking a dip in this beautiful water, so … fully clothed… she goes in!
…and immediately realizes that this is VERY VERY COLD water! 🙂
One quick picture… and a nice rumble of thunder in the building storm in the distance… and we’re ready to head back. It’s a decent walk back to the parking lot, and we actually get there JUST as the rain starts, so our timing for the entire hike couldn’t have been better!
Oh … and for the first time on this hike, I actually used my phone and tracked our hike for later plotting.
I was really impressed at how accurate it was and how cool it looks overlaid on the satellite map!
But, again, like other things I’ve written about…