Hike to Delta Lake

7 Miles Round Trip - 2400 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Lupine Meadows Trailhead - Search Nearby - 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.

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers

Details

7 Miles
2400 ft elevation gain
Out-and-Back Trail

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Overall rating: 

Stunning!

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!

Had to work for the awesome payoff!

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!

Incredible

Awesome hike.