Taggart Lake is one of the most popular hikes in Grand Teton National Park. So how do you get away from the crowds on the main trail? Hike a beautiful and scenic loop that throws in another glacial lake and a side trail that few people ever hike. This gives you the full Taggart and Bradley Lakes Loop, topping out at just under 7 miles to complete the loop.
Taggart and Bradley Lakes Loop Trail Description
The trail for the loop begins along the main Taggart Lake Trail, and is best experienced going counter-clockwise, so starting with Bradley Lake and continuing onto Taggart Lake after.
As with the main Taggart Lake Hike, the beginning of this trail brings you along the sagebrush flats until you reach the base of the glacial moraine, where you’ll begin a slight bit of elevation change as you pass over first one rushing creek, and then another smaller one. Once past the second, the trail cuts back west and begins ascending up the moraine through a gorgeous grove of aspen trees.
At the top of the moraine, the trail emerges from the aspens, continues roughly westward, and then drops a bit where a sign marking the Bradley Lake Trail awaits. While most will head left to go straight to Taggart Lake, fewer will go right to Bradley Lake, so you can count on a few less people from here.
The trail gradually begins climbing around the base of another moraine, this one separating the glaciers that extended from Avalanche Canyon, producing Taggart Lake, and Garnet Canyon, producing Bradley Lake. As you climb higher on the moraine, increasingly captivating views of Taggart Lake and southern Jackson Hole come into view. A small spur here and there offers a better vantage point through trees, allowing you to see the landscape sprawling out below.
Upon cresting the moraine, you enter into a dense and mature forest, descending rapidly through toward Bradley Lake. After you descend through a few small switchbacks, you soon reach the junction with the Valley Trail. The view of Bradley Lake at this point isn’t terribly inspiring, but following the Valley Trail a short distance north (right) will bring you to a much more appropriate viewpoint below Garnet Canyon. In terms of views and the scope of this hike, there’s not much beyond the footbridge nearby, so as soon as you’re done appreciating the landscape, head back up the Valley Trail and continue straight through the junction you descended to previously.
The trail climbs up through the old forest to the top of the moraine, where an occasional mesmerizing view of Taggart Lake and the extended landscape below demand a short break. Over the course of a large switchback, the trail descends the moraine through a mostly exposed and broken forest, only to reenter a more typical forest as it approaches the shores of Taggart Lake. From here, the trail will wander along the eastern shoreline, sometimes next to the water, providing stunning views of the lake and Teton Mountains, other times set back a bit into the woods. You also might notice a few more people in this area since you’re quickly approaching what most people consider to be the end of the trail.
You’ll see reach the junction where the main Taggart Lake Trail intersects the Valley Trail that you’ve been hiking along. If you’re short on time and itching to get back, take a left at the junction to take the shorter way back to the trailhead. If you’re still wanting more from the hike, continue straight, where after a few more scenic vistas of the lake looking up at the towering Tetons, you’ll cross a small footbridge. This is where the lake empties into Taggart Creek, though the actual creek isn’t visible from the bridge.
Just after crossing over the bridge, the trail begins to climb up the south side of the entire moraine system you’ve been hiking along. A couple of switchbacks and zigzags will bring you to the top through the young forest, where a stunning view of the mountain landscape comes into view. From here the trail wraps around the moraine to the west before cutting back east again, providing gorgeous views all along the way thanks to the barren hillside.
Once at the bottom of the descent, you’ll begin hiking along the base of the moraine, which will be on your left. Shortly after, Beaver Creek comes in on your right, giving a pleasant and mellow natural white noise to accompany you for another 3/4 of a mile or so. Afterward, you’ll bounce up and over a few smaller hills at the base of the moraine, before being dropped back off at the base where it’s a straight shot to close out the loop and head back to the trailhead.
From Moose, WY, head up Teton Park Road for 2.5 miles, passing through the entrance station and locating the well-signed Taggart Lake Trailhead parking area on your left.
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