Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point near Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons National Park of Wyoming
Jenny Lake in the Grand Tetons National Park
During our two week vacation, while staying in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, one of the tours we took in the Grand Tetons National Park, introduced us to Jenny Lake.
My mother, niece and I generally like to take tours when new to an area because we learn so much from the guides and then, if we have extra time, we can always go back to areas where we might wish to spend some additional time. When we first saw Jenny Lake on tour, we knew that we wanted to see more of it.
These first three photos are from that one day tour. The rest that follows is from our going back and spending much of a full day there.
Lakes in the Grand Tetons
- Jenny Lake formed about 10,000 years ago along with the other lakes in this area after glacial action scoured this locale leaving the valley surrounded by mountains.
- Jenny Lake is about 1 1/2 miles long and about 1 mile wide. Its depth is approximately 236 feet.
- Trout live in this lake.
- The lake was named for the wife of an early homesteader by the name of Beaver Dick Leigh.
- The other lakes in this national park are Taggart and Phelps lakes to the south and Leigh and Jackson lakes to the north.
- Jackson Lake is by far the largest lake.
Taking a boat ride across Jenny Lake, we were to ultimately see the lake not only at ground level but also from a much higher elevation looking back down upon it.
People need to treat all water in the area as if it is contaminated. Most of the liquid has the contaminants Giardia and Campylobacter in it coming from wildlife wastes and also from human activity in the area. Heeding this advice we carried our water and snacks for the day.
Hiking Up To Hidden Falls
After disembarking the boat, the start of a hike that would take us up to Hidden Falls began. The craft would come back and be available to us on a regularly established schedule so that everyone could determine their own pace and take their time in the enjoyment of this unspoiled beauty of nature that gradually unfolded with every step that we made.
Any group of people quickly becomes widely scattered except for several gathering points of interest. One can take the time to sit on a rock or fallen trunk of a tree and breathe in this wilderness beauty and savor it for a while. For most of the time, the three of us were alone on the path.
The entire hike to the falls was alongside the river. We thoroughly enjoyed each twist of the path and each discovery as it appeared to our eyes and ears.
The path was natural—sometimes smooth and often rocky. One has to be in reasonably good shape to undertake this hike. Because this is in its natural state, there is no such thing as wheelchair access. So while limited to some, the pristine beauty remains pretty much as it occurred over time.
We saw many little chipmunks and ground squirrels along the trail. While similar in appearance, one can determine the difference between them because of a streak that continues alongside the face of the chipmunk. In the case of the ground squirrel, the stripe ends at the back of the shoulder. They are cute little guys to watch as they scamper over rocks and munch on nuts.
Other wildlife found in this canyon include the yellow-bellied marmots and the pika. The larger animals that are further up the canyon include the moose, mountain sheep, and the occasional black bear.
Many birds call this location home. Included among them are hawks, eagles, western tanagers and the American dipper bird.
One sees Douglas fir trees in abundance. The air is fragrant and sweet. One should take time to savor the sights, sounds, and fragrances of this forested area to discover small things as well as significant.
Similar to all such nature preserves, one is expected to haul out what one brings in to this environment. No littering is allowed.
We could hear the falls as we approached the sight before seeing it. It is a gathering spot for people along the trail. Technically Hidden Falls is not a waterfall at all. It is a cascade. A waterfall has to fall freely while a cascade tumbles over rocks as this one does.
Hidden Falls tumbles over rocks for about 200 feet before reaching the riverbed below. Most of it comes from melting snow. As the summer progresses, the falls diminish in volume over time. The name "hidden" came about because the only way to see it is by walking and hiking the trail. Views of it from the highway are not available.
Hiking Up To Inspiration Point
The hike up to Inspiration Point would become more complicated and strenuous. My niece and I decided to undertake that, and we joined others who wanted to look down upon Jenny Lake and the valley containing Jackson Hole from that perspective. It was a very rocky and at times a challenging chore to keep going especially because of those higher elevations. Just about the entire trail is above 7,000 feet.
Protected within the park are all natural features such as the rocks and all vegetation. Photography is allowed, but items are not to be disturbed. No pets are allowed to be on the trails or backcountry in the park.
We saw several types of blooming wildflowers. Some of the wildflowers that are known to be in the park include wild columbines, Indian paintbrush, silky phacelia, glacier lilies, and many others.
The trees vary from the Douglas Fir to a Subalpine Fir, Lodgepole pine and Engelmann Spruce. There are some trees in this area reputed to be over 400 years old.
Gazing across Jenny Lake with the Grand Tetons to one's back, one can see the other mountains that surround the valley and Jackson Hole.
One can continue hiking beyond Inspiration Point. We chose not to do that as my mother was waiting for us below and we had quite a hike to get back down to the lake and catch our boat ride again across it. For those who have more time, the trail leads for another six miles through Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude.
Off in the distance, we saw some people who were mountain climbing. Anyone going further than Inspiration Point has to register with the park rangers, and they keep track of just how many people are out there on those trails at any point in time.
This adventure took up one precious day of our time on this vacation trip, but it was well worth it. We communed with nature, enjoyed the fresh mountain air, and got some healthy exercise.
In July of 2018 Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point was closed to the public because of a 100-foot long fissure recently discovered. Scientists are monitoring the site to determine if tourists can once again safely have access to these beautiful areas within the Grand Tetons.
Have you ever visited Jenny Lake?
© 2009 Peggy Woods