Cascade Canyon Trail on the west side of Jenny Lake is a popular dayhike for getting a closer experience within the Tetons. Start early to avoid the crowds.
There is an alternative to the entire Jenny Lake chaotic summer crowd scene (many visitors use the Jenny Lake shuttle boat to access Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon trailheads).
Instead, park at the String Lake Trail lot on the north end of Jenny Lake. A shaded path follows String Lake southbound a half mile, and continues towards Jenny Lake as it joins the Valley Trail. Head west on Valley Trail using the wooden bridge to cross the river connecting the two lakes. Continue on Valley Trail along the river and past slopes covered in grass, shrubs, wildflowers and tree stumps from an old fire burn. The river soon enters into Jenny Lake, with the trail following the northwest side of Jenny Lake (gorgeous views). Continue for about a mile. Signage for the Jenny Lake shuttle dock, Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point soon appears. Since the Inspiration Point access to Cascade Canyon was closed for maintenance in early June and likely will be all summer, alternative signage directs you uphill on Horse Trail .9 mile to access Cascade Canyon.
The path climbs steadily through dense forest; then you’ll see signs for the Cascade Canyon Trail and points beyond. From here the trail is well maintained with a gentle incline. Much of the path parallels Cascade Creek, which in early June was thundering with snow melt. Enjoy the cooler temperatures, watch for interesting wildlife (saw a beautiful fox!) and keep going as far as you want. When you are ready, just turn around and retrace your route.
During summer be prepared for thunderstorms quickly building over the mountains. Of all the trails I explored on my first trip to Grand Tetons NP, Cascade Canyon was the one I liked best. Craggy mountain views, rushing rivers, forests, wildflowers, and wildlife.
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