Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows Trailhead

Alta, Wyoming

4.6/5
based on 14 reviews

Details

Distance

7.16 miles

Elevation Gain

2365 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Michael O'Keeffe

Beautiful, secluded lake at the base of the Grand Teton. Access via unmaintained trail equals rare solitude for day hikers. Keep in mind to always stay on the trails, maintained or unmaintained, to preserve the beauty of this area.

Delta Lake is a hidden gem in one of America's busiest national parks, Grand Teton in Wyoming. On paper, Delta Lake should be a hotspot for visitors to Grand Teton with its relatively moderate distance and elevation gain which lies in the realm of most day hikers. However, this spectacular glacial lake which lies at the base of the Grand Teton is almost unheard of. The reason for the lake's secrecy is the lack of access to reach it. To reach the lake one must traverse an "unmaintained" trail and then navigate a large boulder field which requires some good route finding skills. Again, this is a beautiful area and it's our collective duty to keep it that way...stay on the trail(s) and leave the area better than you found it...for everyones sake.

To reach Lupine Meadows Trailhead (from Jackson) head north into the park on US191. Make a left at Moose Junction onto Teton Park Road. Stay north on Teton Park Road for just over 7 miles where you will then turn left onto Lupine Meadows Road, it is unpaved but relatively well maintained (my FWD sedan made it no problem). Follow Lupine Meadows Road to the end where you will a parking area and the Lupine Meadows trailhead to begin the hike.

From the Lupine Meadows trailhead, the first mile of the trail is a gentle, steady incline before it banks to the right and begins a steeper ascent up a ridge. This portion of the trail is mainly forested with occasional views of the Tetons presenting themselves. When you reach the junction for the Valley Trail make sure to stay straight toward Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes. The next mile and a half takes you over a series of steady switchbacks through open meadows with commanding views of Jackson Hole and Bradley Lake below. Eventually you will reach another junction where the trail will split to either Garnet Canyon (left) or Surprise/Amphitheater Lakes (straight/right). Make sure to stay straight/right toward Surprise/Amphitheater Lakes. The first switchback after the junction you will leave the maintained trail.

The "unmaintained" trail is not hard to find but easy to miss if you're not looking. The trail will quickly descend and just as quickly mellow out. This portion of the trail it is easy to see why it is "unmaintained" with several fallen trees creating obstacles. While the trees are not difficult to navigate around it is very easy to lose sight of the faint trail. This is where having good route finding skills comes in handy. After a few tenths of a mile the trail will open up into the first boulder field. Look for cairns to guide you to stay on the trail.

The trail continues after the first boulder field then entering a much larger boulder field which marks the final 500 feet of elevation gain to the lake. Keep an eye out for cairns to help maintain your course and take it slow, while not a technical scramble by any means it still takes some balance and careful navigation. Follow the boulder field up until you reach the foot of lake. Be sure to bring a camera and stay awhile as the view is gorgeous!

To return retrace your steps back to the trailhead and your car.

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Features

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Reviews

First off, this is a 9-mile hike, not 7 (source: my garmin). It's a pretty steady incline until you drop into the beginning of the unmaintained Delta Lake trail which is the last mile to the lake. Let me tell you, it was a hard mile but once you get to the lake, all that pain of climbing went numb. It's absolutely incredible! Bring proper clothing as the weather drastically changed at the start of our descent - thunder, lightning, hail and down pour. Other than that, it was a long but rewarding day on the mountain!

The maintained trail hike was varied and interesting, but the real fun began when we got off on the unmaintained portion. Challenging both from a physical and directional standpoint. Stay true to the cairns (both rocks and some driftwood markers). If you want a more challenging climb, ignore the cairns and venture off on the boulders. The lake is worth the climb!

If I had to look at one alpine lake for the rest of my life i'd pick here! Such a great way to escape the crowds, only saw one other group at the lake! Fun scrambling to get there and as long as you follow the cairns and water flow it's hard to get lost. Epic mountain views and the water is unreal up there!

One of the most amazing views of the Tetons. Such an epic place. Would highly recommend it.

I got to the Lupine Meadows Trailhead around 8:30 on a Monday and the parking lot was already pretty crowded. It took me around 2 hours to get to the lake. The cairns through the boulder fields are not very obvious but there are actually packed down trails and you don't go through either boulder field for very long. I thought this would be a pretty remote hike and there wouldn't be a lot of people, and from the comments about it being an "unmaintained" trail I thought it would provide to be pretty difficult route finding. This was not the case. The trail seems to get quite a bit of traffic and has been pretty packed down, making it a rather obvious route the majority of the way. I did this hike alone and had no problems. I stayed at the lake for about an hour and saw around 20 other people. Definitely worth it.

Can anyone give an accurate trip time estimate for a physically fit person? I intend to photograph this location during sunrise and am trying to figure out what time to start the hike by. Also are you able to camp there overnight? I know there are places by Surprise Lake but not sure about here. Thanks in advance!

Not anymore. Thanks, Outbound.

It is not easy to get to (that last stretch of trail is steep!) but this lake is more than worth it! I would recommend arriving as early as possible. I stayed at the Surprise Lake backcountry campsite and came here first thing in the morning and nobody else showed up for hours which was quite the treat.

Ditto to the other reviewers. This was an unreal hike. The directions in this post are perfect, as this is an unmarked trail and isn't that easy to find. I've been to many NPs in the US and this is easily a top 5 hike I've ever done. So rewarding when you get to the top of the lake after climbing over numerous boulder fields. Not a very populated hike once you get off the main trail which makes this even better. We were the only ones at the Lake upon arrival. HIGHLY recommend.

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