The Taggart & Bradley Lakes Download
Highlights: Great views of the Tetons for moderate effort, two glacial lakes, wildlife.
Travel Time (from Urban Centers to Park/Trailhead): Twenty-five minutes from Jackson, Wy.
Nearby Supplies and Gas: Moose (2.8 miles).
Difficulty: There is some moderate climbing, via long switchbacks, and all is at the beginning.
Distance: 5.5 miles.
Entrance Fees: $30 (7 days) or $20 (1 day) for vehicle, $20 for motorcycles, $15 (7 days) or $10 (1 day) for individuals, plus various annual passes.
Top Elevation: 7,230 feet.
Elevation Gain: 1,011 feet.
Trailhead Waypoint: 43.693155, -110.732858
Getting There: From Jackson, drive 12.3 miles north on US-191/US26E/US-89N, turn left on Teton Park Road and drive 3.5 miles (includes the Moose park entrance). A clearly marked parking lot is on the left; there will be toilet facilities.
The previous year, I’d taken the hike to Cascade Canyon, which is supposed to be one of the most awesome at Grand Teton National Park. You get some pretty nice, up-close views of Grand Teton – and I saw moose and pika. However, the steady climb from Jenny Lake is a workout, especially when you’re packing 30 pounds of camera gear like I was.
With my wife Florangela this time, I sought a little less taxing hike – and figured we’d get a little less of the spectacular in the bargain. That truly is not the case. The peeks at the peaks may not be as in your face, but they are more prevalent, as if the Tetons were tagging along. Plus you get the two glacial lakes and fairly flat trails, with the ascents focused on the approach to Bradley Lake and then out from Bradley, en route to Taggart.
We also got a great bonus, which I’ll outline a little later.
The beginning of the hike can get a little confusing, but at the first two forks, stay right. When you hit the footbridge over a cascading portion of Taggart Creek, you’ll know you’re on the right track. Not far after are the National Park Service horse stalls on the right, then you’ll climb to an area cleared by the Beaver Creek fire of 1985. It still bears the scars, but is great habitat for wildlife, so keep an eye peeled.
After a slide incline, you’ll reach the junction to Bradley Lake. Stay right and you’ll climb to a series of overlooks with views of Taggart. At a bit past the 2-mile mark is the junction with Valley Trail; go right here for Bradley Lake, a smallish lake ringed by the Tetons and well-shaded for a quick break. You’ll climb away from Bradley Lake to a ridge. The trail is bordered by huckleberry, which is a favorite of bears, so make some noise.
At the 3.5-mile mark you will reach Taggart Lake and follow the shoreline to a small beach with a killer view of Middle Teton, Grand Teton, Mt. Owen and Teewinot Mountain. Our bonus was spying a young moose splashing around on the other side of the lake. We watched it for some time and then it suddenly bolted for the forest, as if called back for dinner. As you’re leaving the lake, make sure to take some long looks back at the spectacular setting.
Loop back via the Beaver Creek Trail for a little more length, the soothing sound of rushing water and more wildlife-viewing opportunitites.