Lunch Tree Hill
|Trail Features:||Panoramic Views, Wildlife, History|
|Trail Location:||Jackson Lake Lodge|
|Roundtrip Length:||0.4 Miles|
|Trailhead Elevation:||6863 Feet|
|Total Elevation Gain:||87 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||435 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||6950 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||0.57 (easy)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||43.87781|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-110.57824|
The hike to Lunch Tree Hill begins from the Jackson Lake Lodge, located one mile north of Jackson Lake Junction. This short hike begins from the north side of the back patio.
Hikers will begin their short walk from the historic Jackson Lake Lodge. The resort complex, now a National Historic Landmark, was built atop the former site of the Amoretti Hotel and Camp Company's Jackson Lake Lodge. Eugene Amoretti began building his resort in 1922, which boasted the first hot and cold running water in the valley.
As the name might imply, the trail begins with a relatively steep, but short climb along a paved path. Along the way there will be a couple interpretive signs that explain the wildlife, geology and history of the area. The entire route also offers outstanding views of the entire Grand Teton Range, as well as that of Jackson Lake and Willow Flats.
Jackson Lake is the largest lake in Grand Teton National Park. This natural, glacially-carved lake was enlarged by the construction of the Jackson Lake Dam. The original dam was built in 1906, rebuilt in 1911, enlarged in 1916, and was rebuilt again by 1989 to withstand a 7.5 magnitude earthquake. The top 33 feet of the lake is utilized by farmers in Idaho for irrigation purposes. In its natural state, Jackson Lake originally covered about 17,100 acres, but is now more than 25,500 acres in size. The lake is named for David E. Jackson, a trapper who purportedly spent the winter of 1829 along its shores.
The expansive valley here was originally known as "Davey Jackson's Hole," but the name was shortened many years later. In case you're wondering, "hole" was a term used by fur trappers to describe high altitude plateaus surrounded by mountains.
Just below Lunch Tree Hill, and extending out towards Jackson Lake and the Tetons, is the expansive marshy area known as Willow Flats. This willow-choked plain offers outstanding habitat for a variety of wildlife, including moose, elk, beaver, sandhill cranes, Calliope hummingbirds and northern harriers.
The short hike ends at the top of the hill, just two-tenths of a mile from the lodge. On one side of the viewing area you'll have outstanding views of the entire Teton Range, while on the eastern side is a plaque dedicated to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., which commemorates his key role in the creation of Grand Teton National Park.
On this hilltop in 1926, Rockefeller, along with his family, met with Horace Albright, the superintendent of Yellowstone National Park at that time. This historic meeting led to Rockefeller purchasing "the entire Jackson Hole Valley with a view to its being ultimately turned over to the Government," and its eventual inclusion into the National Park System. In 1950 these properties were finally added to Grand Teton National Park.
As the name would also suggest, the scenic overlook atop Lunch Tree Hill is a great spot for a picnic lunch for the entire family. Visiting at dawn or dusk are also great times to view the sunlit mountains from this vantage point. These timeframes are usually the best for spotting wildlife as well.
Beyond the overlook at Lunch Tree Hill the trail continues along the ridge, heading towards the north, if you wish to explore more of the area.