on February 17, 2006
Jenny Lake may be the world's most beautiful body of water. When we came upon it at the scenic turnout one morning, it was difficult to move on. The setting is spectacular: it's completely surrounded by the Tetons on its western and northern side. We ended up having our family portrait taken there by some new friends, and we all love that picture.Jenny Lake is also the site of one of the park's main attractions: the pleasant hike to Hidden Falls. It's popular enough that unless you schedule it first thing in the morning, you'll find the trail pretty busy. When you get there, you'll know why: it's a modest climb along a series of cascades, leading to a beautiful 200-foot drop of pure whitewater.You have several options for getting there: it's about 1.7 miles around the north shore of Jenny Lake to Hidden Falls. There's also a park concessionaire shuttle across the lake for $7.50 RT or $5 one way ($5/$4 for kids 6 to12). I'd recommend taking the boat at least one direction—Jenny Lake is a beautiful spot, located right underneath the Tetons, with wonderful views up at the mountains in almost all directions.We took the boat both ways, so I'm not sure how much company you'll have if you hike around the lake. But once you get to the dock at the Cascade Canyon Trailhead, you'll certainly be part of a crowd on the last half-mile. It's probably the busiest trail I've ever been on (we were there about 1pm on the 4th of July). We hiked along with a group of 12 from the Teton Mountaineering School, who were beginning their ascent of Grand Teton. The whole crowd on the trail had a nice spirit.The trail has a very modest elevation gain, about 150 feet. After taking you along some smaller but pretty cascades, it brings you out to the view of the falls. There are benches available if you'd like to sit and relax and watch the water for a while. The falls are called "hidden" because they are a little back in the woods: as you approach, you'll see a sign that says "Viewpoint 100 feet," even though you can hear and practically feel them.Don't let the crowds scare you away from this spot. It's worth the trip.The Jenny Lake scenic turnout is a little more difficult to reach than most (that, and our 9am arrival probably kept the crowds down). It's on a one-way stretch of road reached by heading west at the North Jenny Lake Junction on Teton Park Road. The first stretch is two-way; just before you reach Jenny Lake Lodge, it changes to one-way. From junction to turnout is about 2 or 3 miles; it's another half-mile to where this loop rejoins the Park Road.You can find the schedule, fares, and more at the website for Jenny Lake Boating, the operator of the shuttle.
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