Planning a trip to Grand Teton National Park? This hike will change your life! We almost hesitate to share Delta Lake because it is such a lovely and pristine location. Our hope is that if you are able to reach this amazing location, you will subscribe to the Leave No Trace fundamentals and quietly enjoy this special oasis.
Delta Lake is a seven mile round trip out and back hike with a 2400′ elevation gain beginning at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead near Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park. This hidden treasure is a glacially fed alpine lake that many hikers don’t know about. The trail to Delta Lake is an ‘unmaintained’ trail that crosses three boulder fields so good balance and an aptitude for way finding is a must. Be forewarned! This hike is not recommended for casual hikers or those who are not in top physical condition. Do not attempt it if you are unsure of your capabilities. Several hikers have had to be extracted by search and rescue professionals from Jenny Lake. Don’t be one of them!
To reach Lupine Meadows Trailhead from Jackson: head north on US 191, take a left on Moose Junction Road into the Park. Proceed about 7 miles north, then turn left onto Lupine Meadows Road. The road is unpaved, so be careful! The first time I tried to do this hike, my Subaru ended up in the ditch. The shoulders of the road are very soft (and I guess I wasn’t a very good driver that day.)
I couldn’t get her out of the ditch on my own. Fortunately, a very nice couple had a van with towing capabilities and they hauled us out. We scrapped our attempt at this hike that day and it wasn’t until the next year when we returned to the area that we were able to get up there. This parking lot fills very early, so starting at dawn is recommended!
The trail starts out gradually and then begins to ascend. Follow the signs to Surprise/Amphitheater Lakes. The first junction you reach will be the Valley Trail and the second is Garnet Canyon, continue towards Surprise/Amphitheater Lakes at each junction. The trail ascends and you will begin to catch glimpses of Bradley Lake and Jackson Hole below.
The trail will begin to switch back – when this happens, start counting the switchbacks. At the sixth switchback, you will notice there is a lesser traveled dirt trail that descends down and towards the right. You will see several downed trees crossing the trail – this the way to Delta Lake. After a few tenths of a mile, you will reach the first boulder field. Always go across the boulder fields, not up. Look for a slightly dirty path across the boulders as well as cairns that previous hikers have left to signal the way. There is a larger boulder field beyond the first and then a smaller one. The last bit of the trail is steep, loose dirt. Hang in there, you’re almost there! You will reach the crest of the trail to views opening out onto Delta Lake, Grand Teton, and the Teton Glacier.
Bring a camera, lots of water and a picnic lunch. Take some time to relax and drink in the beauty that is this wonderland in Grand Teton National Park. Let this magical place renew your spirit. It sure did ours.
“I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful; an endless prospect of magic and wonder. ” – Ansel Adams