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Top Trails: Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks contains 46 "must-do" hikes to help maximize visitors time and enjoyment of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

Inspiration Point

Trail Features: Panoramic Views, Waterfall inspiration-point
Trail Location: Jenny Lake Trailhead
Roundtrip Length: 2.2 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 6783 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 450 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 409 Feet
Highest Elevation: 7203 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 3.10 (easy)
Parking Lot Latitude 43.75114
Parking Lot Longitude -110.7238
Nearby Lodging: Jenny Lake Lodge

Trail Description:

The hike to Inspiration Point begins from the Jenny Lake Trailhead. To reach the trailhead turn west off Teton Park Road at the South Jenny Lake Junction, located roughly 7.7 miles north of Moose Junction. From the junction drive another half-mile to the boat dock parking area. Hikers have the option of taking the Jenny Lake Trail around the south end of Jenny Lake, or taking the shuttle boat across the lake to the Cascade Canyon Trailhead. The boat cuts-off roughly 2.4 miles of walking each way; however, there is a fee for the boat ride

This hike description follows the route beginning from the Cascade Canyon Trailhead, located at the West Shore Boat Dock, after taking the 12-minute shuttle boat across Jenny Lake.

Covering roughly 1191 acres, glacially-carved Jenny Lake is the second largest lake in the Grand Tetons. At 423 feet it's also one of the deepest. The lake was named for a Shoshone Indian named Jenny who assisted with camp logistics during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1872. Nearby Leigh Lake is named for her husband, Richard "Beaver Dick" Leigh, an itinerant trapper and early tour guide who helped guide the Hayden Expedition through the area. In 1876 Jenny and their six children died of smallpox.

hidden-fallsThe Spring 1939 issue of Grand Teton Nature Notes reports that "By far the most popular trail in the park is the lower portion of the Cascade Canyon Trail which leaves Jenny Lake and climbs above Hidden Falls." More than 75 years later that statement still holds true. As a result of overuse through the years the park launched a multi-year project in the spring of 2014 to improve the area surrounding Jenny Lake. The project included extensive rehabilitation of trails connecting Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, as well as improvements to the viewing areas at both destinations.

From the boat dock the trail begin to climb upward through a pristine conifer forest. It's likely you'll notice quite a few huckleberry patches along this stretch, which is one of the reasons why you'll need to watch out for bears on this hike.

Soon the trail crosses over Cascade Canyon Creek, and at roughly three-tenths of a mile, will reach the Valley Trail which also serves as the western portion of the loop hike around Jenny Lake.

At just over a half-mile from the boat dock you'll pass the horse trail leading up from Jenny Lake. Hikers should proceed straight ahead at this junction. A short distance later you'll pass the short side trail that leads to Hidden Falls. Hikers should turn left here to visit the viewing area of this extremely impressive waterfall. Situated near the mouth of Cascade Canyon, Hidden Falls drops roughly two hundred feet in a series of steps.

After viewing the waterfall return back to the main trail and turn left to continue on towards Inspiration Point. From the falls the trail resumes climbing along a very rocky and rugged trail. As you near Inspiration Point you'll pass over a short section of trail that traverses a fairly steep ledge. This granite-carved segment of trail that gains access to Inspiration Point was built by Civilian Conservation Corps workers in the 1930s. Hikers should definitely use caution along this stretch of the trail.


As you climb higher you'll enjoy some outstanding views of the "Cathedral Group" towering above the canyon towards the west. This group includes 12,325-foot Teewinot Mountain, 13,770-foot Grand Teton and 12,928-foot Mt. Owen.


At 1.1 miles hikers will reach Inspiration Point, one of the most popular hiking destinations in Grand Teton National Park. From this lofty perch you'll have outstanding views of Jenny Lake, Jackson Hole, as well as the Gros Ventre Range towards the east. For those wishing to go home with some great photos you may want to note that the sun will likely pose problems during the morning hours. You may want to start your hike later in the day, or perhaps travel a little further into Cascade Canyon where you'll have even better views of the Cathedral Group. Elevation gain beyond the overlook is much more gradual. Although you don't have to go all the way to the Forks of Cascade Canyon, a short hike into the canyon itself is well worth it if you have the time and energy. Depending on your timing, the sun may be high enough in the sky to allow for better photos of Jenny Lake after returning back to Inspiration Point.