Okay folks, here’s the thing about this one. This hike is not family friendly and it is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the first-time hiker and it is not for someone who doesn’t have experience navigating an unmaintained, hard to follow route. You must have quite a bit of experience in the mountains if you are going to attempt this trail.
If you want a secret hike that is family friendly, check out my posts on Zion and Capitol Reef. If you are looking for more family friendly activities in Grand Teton, check out my list of 15 Things You Can’t Miss on Your First Visit or the Death Canyon Trail (which is just as long but is on a well-maintained trail!).
That being said, if you can do it, you are compensated with some of the most spectacular views on this earth. I have been hiking for many years and have completed many trails, and I can say with confidence that nothing can prepare you for the beauty you will encounter in the Tetons. Be prepared to be put under a spell that you will never be able to break. You will forever more be drawn to Grand Teton National Park.
This hike is up Avalanche Canyon. It leads to the spectacular 200-foot Shoshoko Falls and the pristine alpine lake, Lake Taminah.
What You Need to Know
The entrance fee for 7 days in Grand Teton National Park is $30.
This trail begins at the Taggart Lake Trailhead and can be difficult to find. Take the trail to Taggart Lake and take a right (head north) around Taggart Lake toward Bradley Lake. Just before you start climbing the ridge to get to Bradley Lake, you will see a trail branch off to the left (west). The start of the trail is blocked by some sticks, but this is how you access Avalanche Canyon.
It is not a good idea to hike this trail solo. I strongly suggest having a group of three or more because this area is prime moose and bear habitat. You will want to be making noise entire time, but especially as you are bushwhacking through the thick brush. Carry bear spray and be knowledgeable about how to handle wild animal encounters. That being said, we did run into one moose in Avalanche Canyon, but the bear we saw was in the busy area of Taggart Lake. You really never know.
You will not be following a distinct trail the whole way. I have heard that in this past year, an avalanche has spread downed trees along a stretch of the trail that makes it difficult to follow. The ascent from the bottom of Shoshoko Falls up to Lake Taminah is on a talus slope (lots of loose rock) so you will need to look for cairns to show you the way. Be sure you have a good topographical map with you and a GPS if possible.
The trail stays on the north (right) side of the canyon as you are heading in. Just past Lake Taminah are two more alpine lakes. I did not hike to them because there was still a lot of snow, but just so you know, you can continue on (from the north side of Taminah) to reach these lakes if you are feeling really adventurous!
Always tell someone where you are going when you hike in the backcountry. This trail is approximately 11 miles round trip.
From Jackson, head north on US-191 toward Grand Teton for 13 miles. Turn left toward Moose, Jenny Lake, and Park Headquarters. Follow the road, passing the entrance station, for 4 miles until you see the Taggart Lake Trailhead on your left. Park and begin your hike from here.