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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.

Taggart Lake

Trail Features: Panoramic Views, Lake Views, Fall Aspens taggart-lake
Trail Location: Taggart Lake Trailhead
Roundtrip Length: 3.3 Miles
Trailhead Elevation: 6625 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 300 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 182 Feet
Highest Elevation: 6921 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 3.90 (easy)
Parking Lot Latitude 43.69313
Parking Lot Longitude -110.73299

Trail Description:

The hike to Taggart Lake begins from the Taggart Lake Trailhead, located roughly 2.3 miles north of the Moose Entrance Station. This hike is the easiest and most direct route to Taggart Lake.

From the trailhead hikers will immediately enjoy stunning views of Grand Teton towering above the sagebrush flat. At 13,770 feet, Grand Teton is the highest mountain in the Teton Range. The peak was renamed as Mt. Hayden by the 1872 Hayden Geological Survey, but most people continued to call it Grand Teton Peak. In 1931 the U.S. Board of Geographic Names recognized its more common name, and then shortened it to Grand Teton in 1970.

taggart-lake-trailThe first documented ascent of the peak occurred on August 11, 1898 by four climbers. Two members of the Hayden Geological Survey claimed to have reached the summit in 1872. However, that ascent is disputed by climbers and historians who have concluded, after studying the climber's accounts, that the two reached a side peak known as The Enclosure. Moreover, the 1898 climbers found no evidence of a previous ascent, including a cairn which was a common practice for the expedition.

At just over one-tenth of a mile from the trailhead hikers will reach a fork in the trail. The Beaver Creek Trail leads to the left. Hikers should veer to the right to continue along the Taggart Lake Trail. After walking another tenth-of-a-mile you'll arrive at another split where an old gravel road forks off to the left. Hikers should remain on the footpath that leads to the right to continue on towards Taggart Lake. A short distance beyond the junction you'll cross a footbridge over Taggart Creek which offers a nice view of a cascading waterfall just upstream from the bridge.

taggart-creekAt just over four-tenths of a mile hikers will pass the NPS horse corrals. Soon afterwards the trail begins climbing a moderate grade towards Taggart Lake. This section of trail more or less follows along Taggart Creek, while traveling through a mixed forest of spruce, fir and lodgepole pine. You'll also pass through some long stretches of aspen groves, making this an excellent choice for a fall hike.

At just over a mile from the trailhead you'll begin passing through an area that was burned during the 1985 Beaver Creek Fire. The lightning-ignited wildfire charred more than a thousand acres, and was reported to be so intense that it "exfoliated 8 to 10 cm of stone from granite boulders". As a result, hikers now have excellent opportunities for spotting a wide variety of wildlife that are now taking advantage of the new growth, as well as the decaying trees. This will include mountain bluebirds, flycatchers, woodpeckers, owls, marmots, elk, mule deer and bears. Throughout this stretch hikers will also enjoy outstanding views of the mountains looming towards the west.

At just over 1.1 miles hikers will arrive at the Bradley Lake Trail junction. The trail leading to the right visits Bradley Lake, the smallest of the glacially-carved chain lakes lying below the Teton Range. From Bradley Lake hikers can swing back around to Taggart Lake via the Valley Trail to form a loop hike. To continue directly towards Taggart Lake, hikers should veer left at this junction.

From the junction the trail travels over mostly level terrain that also offers some amazing mountain scenery. After walking only a half-mile you'll finally reach the southeastern shore of Taggart Lake where you'll enjoy outstanding views of 12,804-foot Middle Teton, Garnet Canyon, Grand Teton, 12,928-foot Mt. Owen and 12,235-foot Teewinot Mountain.


This 305-acre, glacially-carved lake was named for William Rush Taggart, an assistant geologist under Frank Bradley during the Hayden Geological Survey of 1872. Both Taggart and Bradley were among the party that attempted to climb Grand Teton during that expedition.

This extremely popular out-and-back hike returns via the Taggart Lake Trail. However, if you wish to explore more of the terrain in this part of the park, you could return to the trailhead via the Beaver Creek Trail, which would add only another half-mile to your overall hike.